Each month, 322 persecuted Christians die for their faith.
They face trials, murder, and torture every day, meeting in secret to protect themselves from the authorities.
Now, a new free film series is bringing their stories to light.
“The information we share is often hidden from our own family members.”
That sentence gives a glimpse into the lonely and often frightening life of a secret believer. Those who follow Christ in secret must decide how and when to share their faith, often at the risk of their brothers and sisters in the church.
“We are an ancient underground movement. Our mission is not of this world. We are the secret believers.”
Secret Believers is a film series produced by Open Doors USA that tells the stories of persecuted Christians around the world. The series will be split into one episode for each believer, and the first episode is currently available on the Open Doors website.
The first episode focuses on Amir, a pastor from a country where the Gospel is not allowed. When he was a young man, Amir received a call from God to start smuggling Bibles into his country.
“My name is Amir, and I am a weak person,” Amir begins. “I have no boldness without Christ.”
The thought of smuggling Bibles scared him, as he knew he could be arrested and tortured if he was caught, but he knew it was important work.
Amir, his fiancé, and a group of fellow Christians started smuggling Bibles across the border, using any means they could find. It was going well until Amir was pulled aside in an airport one day.
He had hidden six Bibles under his fiancé’s wedding dress in their suitcase. When the security guard opened up the suitcase and pulled back the dress, revealing the Bibles, Amir was terrified.
“What is this?” the guard asked, and Amir knew that he would have to tell the truth.
His fiancé stepped in, however, and told the guard, “It’s my bride dress.” Her quick thinking defused the situation, and she and Amir went on their way, assured that they were safe for the time being.
They didn’t expect another member of their group to mention Amir’s name when he was detained in security.
It wasn’t long before Amir was arrested and taken to a government prison.
“I was full of fear,” Amir admits. As it became clear that he would be interrogated and tortured, he prayed, “I’m a weak person, Lord. Please help me.”
The guard who came into his cell wanted to know the names of the other Christians in Amir’s group. He beat and threatened Amir, and it was tempting for Amir to give up his fellow believers in order to protect himself.
He was in prison for three days. At one point, he began to ask God, “Why have You put me here?” He received an answer almost immediately.
“You need to be light in this dark place,” God said to Amir.
God had placed Amir in the prison to witness to the guards and other prisoners and shine the light of the Gospel in a very dark place.
Amir recited stories from the Bible to his torturer, drawing strength from the Scriptures. He gave up no names, and was eventually released to rejoin his fiancé and the other Christians.
The government was far from done with Amir, however.
Over the next two years, the pastor was routinely arrested, tortured, and interrogated. It was a dark and discouraging time for Amir, who considered the spiritual and psychological torture to be far worse than the physical pain he endured.
He came to realize, over and over, just how weak he was, and just how much he needed God’s strength and grace. But he still held onto his faith and did his best to protect his fellow Christians.
Eventually, Amir was betrayed by another believer close to him. How could he find the strength to forgive someone for giving up the information he fought so hard to protect?
You’ll have to watch the series to find out!
These are all-too-common struggles for secret believers, a fact that Open Doors hopes to help the world understand through this series. The ministry also offers ways to help and support persecuted Christians around the globe at the end of each episode.
To watch the series and learn more about the stories of persecuted believers, click here.