Listen: Jonathan JD Douglass chats to Andrew Morris. Above: Hope UC Pastors Mark and Darlene Zschech, and Hillsong United’s JD and Taya.
In Australia, where Easter for many people is all about holidays and chocolate, it’s easy to miss the fact that for 245 million Christians around the world, it’s the toughest time of year.
Persecution of Christians intensifies in many nations – because enemies of the faith know that Easter is our most significant celebration. When believers gather to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, physical attacks increase. Many are in danger of their very lives just by coming together to worship.
This Easter, Open Doors is calling on Australian and New Zealand Christians to donate one day’s wage to support the persecuted church in their struggle and survival. The campaign is called ‘One With Them’, as it calls on people to stand in solidarity with their fellow believers.
The Meaning of the Cross On the Wrist
Ambassadors for the campaign include pastors Mark and Darlene Zschech of Hope UC church, Karl and Jane Faase of Olive Tree Media, singer Chris Sebastian, worship artists Jonathan ‘JD’ Douglass and Taya Gaukrodger (Smith) from Hillsong United, Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies, and Rice Movement leader Steve Chong.
They are leading the way in not only donating a day’s wage – but also marking their wrist with a cross, as a sign of their solidarity and support for persecuted believers. The symbol is inspired by the traditional cross tattoo worn on the wrist by many Coptic Christians, who live in danger in persecuted parts of the Middle East. For some, wearing this symbol to signify their faith has cost them their lives.
Supporters are also posting photos of the cross on their wrists, onto their social media accounts, using the hashtag #onewiththem.
Open Doors CEO Mike Gore explains that by supporting the persecuted church, we help stir up their courage, and increase unity in the global body of Christ. While the amount of one day’s wage is a big ask for some, it encourages people to reflect on the sacrifices persecuted Christians make every day.
JD: “They Pay a Price for Their Belief, With Joy in Their Heart”
Hillsong United singer Jonathan ‘JD’ Douglass caught up with Hope 103.2 to chat about the campaign. He said that by supporting the campaign we don’t just offer our financial support – we also grow in our own faith.
“In my experience travelling in [developing nations] and seeing the way these people live, I think we take for granted how blessed we are,” he said. “We think of persecuted people as ‘they’re worse off than we are’. Pastors are running churches where at any time people can come in and disrupt their services, and they can literally lose their lives for their faith.
“But the most encouraging thing about meeting these people is to understand and experience how strong they are in their faith and the joy that they have.
“Pastors are running churches where…they can literally lose their lives for their faith.”
“I’ve visited these kinds of people, hoping I could bring encouragement to them, but I’m always left way more encouraged and challenged to step up in my faith and joy, and who God is and what he’s called us to do.
“They do pay a price for their Christianity and belief, and they do it with absolute joy in their heart.”
JD encouraged people to not only give a day’s wage, but also to pray.
“I think we always underestimate the power of prayer,” he said. “I’d encourage people to make themselves a little more educated, to find out how this helps people and the work Open Doors are doing. I think people will be pleasantly surprised at the amazing things God is doing in this church that we’re not hearing about. Checking out what Open Doors do is something that will encourage you and build your faith.”
Give / Find Out More
To read more about the persecuted church, or to support One With Them, click below.