We serve Christians around the world whose brave faith in Jesus means they are, beaten, threatened, imprisoned, tortured, falsely accused, disowned and hated.

Or very own Naomi spent the beginning of Lent choosing to lose her bed for a few nights to raise money, awareness and prayer for young Christians around the world who are losing out because of their choice to follow Jesus. Because of their Christian faith, many believers can be shunned by family, excluded by community, losing home, security, safety and more. In other places, being known as a Christian can be extremely dangerous, leading to prison or violence. Through Naomi’s challenge, she has raised nearly £1,000 for the work of Open Doors partners helping Christians facing persecution – amazing!

If you’re you thinking of taking on the challenge yourself and giving up something you love to raise money for your persecuted family, here’s a list Naomi has complied of 10 things she thinks you should know! And if you’re not yet taking on the challenge, but feel inspired too – get your free fundraising pack here…

1. It should cost you.

If you’re giving something up and you know you won’t feel the pain, then you probably aren’t giving up the right thing. If you know you spend hours gaming, then give up your console;
or ages on YouTube or social media, maybe that should be your thing. Maybe you’re too comfortable and so going without your bed, or shoes or a meal would be costly. You choose – but choose something that you know will feel like you’re losing out.

2. It’s all in the preparation.

Ordering your Choose To Lose pack, setting up a justgiving page, letting people know what you’re doing – it will all help to make sure you are able to make the most of your Choose To Lose Challenge. So don’t leave it until the last minute. Order your pack today.

3. The “why” is the most important thing.

This challenge is all about raising money and prayer for Christians who lose out because they have decided to follow Jesus. That’s why we
get involved. As we live in freedom, we want to do all we can to support our brothers and sisters who experience pain for choosing to become Christians. This is one way we can use our time, comfort and influence to make a real difference.

4. Real people, our Christian brothers and sisters, lose out.

We aren’t talking about distant, faceless people. In your Choose To Lose stories booklet you will read stories of real people, like you and me who have chosen to follow Jesus and because of that decision have lost out on family, home, security and freedom. Our hope is that sharing their stories makes these issues and people real for you and impacts why your actions are necessary.

5. People in your community want to support you.

When young people are doing something for a good cause, the community often wants to support this. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to show that young people can be known for making a positive impact on a real issue. Make sure you ask for and take opportunities to share what you are doing and why.

6. Asking people for money can be awkward.

Asking people to sponsor you can feel uncomfortable. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that what you’re losing is difficult enough that people think it’s worth sponsoring. But do ask people to sponsor you if they can. You don’t have to hard sell, but explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what your sponsorship money will do to help Christians who lose out.

7. Reading about Brother Andrew will inspire and challenge your faith.

We always encourage people to read Open Doors founder, Brother Andrew’s, book – Gods Smuggler. It is the story of how one man started saying yes to God and the different ways in which God gave him opportunities to encourage Christians all over the world. You might not like reading but we promise this is a page turner – also you can get an audio version on audible.

8. Praying will have an impact.

God listens and responds to your prayers. Sometimes we see answers to prayer, other times we don’t; but God hears our prayers and chooses to work through the things that we pray. So spend some time praying for the people who’s stories you’ve read. Pray for Christians who lose out because they keep bravely choosing to follow Jesus. And trust that your prayers are doing things that you might never see.

9. You might want to give up.

When we voluntarily choose to lose, it can be tempting when we start to feel the cost to want to give up. Whatever you have chosen to lose, if it’s something you love, it will be a struggle to complete this challenge. But you aren’t just doing this challenge for you. You are doing this to raise money and prayer for your Christian brothers and sisters. You’re in this together. They know the pain too – so when you’re tempted to give up, remind yourself of one of the stories you’ve read. Many Christians have to give up far more than we do – if they can do that, we can take part in this challenge. You might want to get some friends to take part too – that way you’ve got support right there with you.

10. Taking part in the Choose To Lose Challenge will change you.

Reading the stories, reflecting on your own freedom, learning about Brother Andrew, feeling the cost…it will all have an impact. Our hope is that this challenge does change you. We hope it changes how you feel about your Christian family around the world, that you’d feel more connected. We hope it changes the way you appreciate the freedom you have, the way your prayers have an impact, the reality that you have influence and power to act and speak up for those who don’t have a voice. This challenge has the potential to impact your faith and how seriously you take it. We hope it changes you to be more like Jesus.

Choose to Lose. Take on the challenge!

Choose what to give up, for how long and when. Simple. Sign up at the link below and we’ll send you a free fundraising pack!

Last year, Naomi chose to lose her shoes to fundraise for her persecuted church family. She raised over £1000, which is amazing. This year, she’s choosing to lose the comfort and warmth of her bed. For three nights, she’ll be sleeping outside, with nothing but a pallet mattress and sleeping bag!

Naomi is taking on the Choose to Lose challenge to raise money, prayer and awareness for Christians around the world who are missing out because of their choice to follow Jesus – Christians like Saser and Mihea (names changed) from Laos.

The two young men had recently chosen to follow Jesus when their Christian faith was discovered. In the space of an afternoon, they lost their home and their safety. People they used to call neighbours, along with the police, questioned and beat them. The mob wouldn’t let them go. They were told to sign documents saying they would stop being Christians and that they would return to the local tribal religion. But they refused. So, the beatings got worse and worse.

Eventually the villagers pushed them out of their house and evicted them from the area. The message was clear: if you choose Jesus, you’re no longer safe here.

For Saser and Mihea, choosing Jesus has meant losing physical safety, security, and community. Despite wanting to go home, they have moved to a local city where Open Doors partners have been supporting them.

Could you take on the Choose to Lose Challenge for some or all of Lent and help raise money and prayer for Christians like Saser and Mihea? Sign up and we’ll send you a free Choose to Lose fundraising pack, with help on getting your challenge started and reflections to help you connect with your persecuted family!

Naomi’s 10 simple steps to help you choose to lose!

1. Order your choose to lose pack.
It’s easy, fast and simple.

2. Decide what you are going to choose to lose
Will it be your games console, a favourite snack or drink, screen time or something more extreme? What would feel like a real sacrifice?

3. Decide how long for
Whether you choose to lose for 24 hours, 3 days, a week, a month or longer – you can choose. But challenge yourself – this is called the Choose To Lose Challenge, what will cost you and will make any support you receive worthwhile?

4. Set up your justgiving page
This is an easy way for people to sponsor and support you and Open Doors. You can follow this link to set your page – if you need any help let us know! Message us on Instagram or send us an email youth@opendoorsuk.org

5. Prepare
Depending on your challenge you will need more or less time to prepare. You might want to create a little video to explain what you’re doing and why and post on your socials or ask to share in Church or youth group. If you’re giving something up you might want to make sure you have hidden it away, out of sight. You might want to line up alternative activities so that you find it easier to cope – why not order a free copy of God Smuggler to read.

You might need to collect items – I’m losing my bed, so I had to work out what I needed to sleep outside for a few days. Make sure you give some time to prepare so you are ready for your Choose To Lose Challenge.

6. Tell people
Tell them what you are doing (what are you choosing to lose and for how long?), why you are doing it (to raise money and prayer for Christians who lose out because they choose to follow Jesus) and ask them to sponsor you (please would you consider sponsoring me?) If you need a paper sponsor form you can find one here…. Once you sign up, we’ll also send you a bunch of Choose to Lose graphics you can edit and use on your social media accounts too!

7. Read the stories
In your Choose to Lose pack you’ll find a stories booklet which shares 4 stories of Christians who have lost different things because of their decisions to become Christians. These are powerful stories of real people – take time to read and learn from them.

8. Pray
The BEST thing we can do is pray for our Christian family. God chooses to work through our prayers; use the prayer points from the stories to help you to know what to pray. But let that be a springboard into praying your own prayers!

9. Feel the pain
The whole point of the Choose To Lose Challenge is to identify with the cost of choosing to follow Jesus. For many, this choice is a decision which means they lose out – they might lose family, friends, community, homes, education or employment, freedom or even their lives. Feel the pain of what you have chosen to lose and ask God to speak to you through the pain.

10. Reflect
In taking part in the Choose To Lose Challenge, what have you learnt? Have any of the stories connected with you? How have you found losing out? Has God spoken to you? Take some time to think and jot down some reflections so you can come back to them and see what God was doing through this challenge.

11. Bonus
Feedback to all those who have supported you – let them know what you have learnt and thank them for their prayer and financial support. Then send in any funds you’ve been able to raise and let us know how you got on!

Ready to go?

Excellent! Order your pack and get ready to choose to lose!

You know the Christmas story already right? Angels appearing and sayng, ‘do not be afraid’. A really long journey involving a heavily pregnant woman. The lack of hotel rooms and then Jesus being born and laid in a manger. The shepherds and wise men following a star and finding Jesus. So, as the nights start getting colder and longer, you may be thinking that you need a rest, rather than hearing that same familiar story all over again?

We can know a lot about Jesus and the Christmas story. Kind of like social media – you can follow a load of people and know a lot about them, but do we really know them? It can be the same with our faith – do we really know Jesus?

Image: Boy looking out over a city in Egypt – illustrative image – this isn’t Adel.

Knowing about to knowing: Adel’s story

Adel is 10 and he lives in Egypt. He’s grown up knowing his family are called ‘Christians’. He’s learnt the Lord’s prayer, goes to church at Christmas and is treated differently because of his faith. But he didn’t really understanding what being a Christian means. Adel knew about Jesus, but didn’t actually know Him.

From a young age Adel was forced to start working at a rubbish filtration workshop. If he didn’t bring home enough money at the end of the day, his dad would beat him.

Meanwhile, at his job, Adel was humiliated by his boss and teammates: he says he was paid less than his Muslim co-workers, and they would make fun of him and call him ‘crazy’ because he was known as a Christian. Remember, he’s only 10. That’s a lot to deal with.

Adel was understandably unhappy. He heard about a children’s group that was meeting during his break time and decided to go. Here, for the first time, Adel heard about a God that had created him and loved him. One of the most important topics he learnt about was ‘God as a father’. This was massive for Adel, as his idea of God had been distorted because of his own experience with his father.

A new chapter opened in Adel’s life. “Knowing God makes me feel happy.” Adel says: “I know I have a Father in heaven that I can always talk to. That’s amazing.”

Adel changed. Before he knew about God. Now he know’s God. He knows he has a loving Heavenly Father, and amazing truth, especially if our earthly dads aren’t what we hoped they would be.

What about you?

So here’s the question: Are we so familiar with the story of Christmas that we forget how amazing it is to get to know God? For Adel knowing there is a God he can always speak to has changed how he sees himself and his life. For us, choosing to get to know Jesus could be the best possible way to celebrate Christmas this year.

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
John 1:18

As you hear or watch the Christmas story this year, we are praying you will see and know Jesus more.