Interview with Dr. Carl Moeller

CEO of Open Doors (USA)

Open Doors was founded by Brother Andrew, the author of God’s Smuggler, which has sold over 10 million copies in 36 languages. Open Doors has served persecuted believers for over 56 years, which makes it the oldest on-going ministry to suffering Christians. Today Open Doors is an international Christian ministry with offices in 21 countries and works in 60 restrictive countries.

Dr. Carl Moeller is the President of Open Doors, USA. He is a dedicated advocate for the millions of Christians worldwide who are denied basic religious freedom. Carl Moeller began his ministry in 1983 with Campus Crusade for Christ. He was appointed President of Open Doors USA in 2003. Carl lives in Southern California with his wife Kim and their four children. He has ministered in 62 countries.

JOY Magazine interviewed him during a recent ministry tour in South Africa.

Dr. Moeller, how would you describe the ministry of Open Doors?

The Scripture which God gave our Founder, Brother Andrew, was: “Wake up! And strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die…” (Revelation 3:2). One aspect of our ministry is to wake up the churches that enjoy freedom in the West. Our main ministry is to strengthen those suffering Christians who are in many cases in danger of their lives. We serve persecuted Christians by delivering Bibles, Sunday school materials, adult training materials and other Scriptural materials, training of pastors in Biblical Truths and helping in community development with skills and vocational training.

What are the main sources of persecution?

Atheistic ideologies such as Marxism are behind the persecution in North Korea, China, Vietnam and other communist countries. Religions such as Islam are behind the persecution in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Gaza and Pakistan. Buddhism is behind persecution in countries such as Myanmar (Burma). Hinduism inspires the ideology of Hindutva, which maintains that to be an Indian you must be a Hindu. Although India is the world’s largest democracy and provides for religious freedom, one of the largest political parties in India adheres to Hindutva and Hindu mobs have viciously persecuted Christians in many regions of India, without being brought to justice by the state. The Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and to a lesser extent Judaism, are shame and honour religions where those who convert from the family faith are shamed, shunned and rejected. In the case of Islam and Hinduism, this can result in honour murders, where fathers may kill their daughters, uncles their nieces and brothers their sisters - for bringing dis-honour to their family by converting to Christianity. In many ways the persecution by family members is the very worst. In a Mid-East country an Imam converted to Christ was killed by his own family. Of 23 believers baptized in 2003, six are dead already.

Is there still persecution of Christians in Afghanistan since it was liberated by American and Allied military forces?

There are thousands of believers in Afghanistan, but they must exercise their Faith in conditions of strictest secrecy. Every month Christians are murdered and arrested. Kidnapping, physical harassment and attacks on the property of Christians is commonplace. The new constitution of Afghanistan stipulates that: “No law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam.” Open Doors has delivered a plea from the Afghan believers to secure religious freedom. This has been ignored by government officials. The US government actually burned Bibles that were found in the possession of US soldiers for distribution within Afghanistan! The new flag of Afghanistan has the Creed of Muhammad emblazoned on it. Only Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have the Creed of Muhammad actually on the national flag. Many American soldiers are saying that we did not fight to bring about this kind of radical government which persecutes Christians!

What is going on in the Middle East?

Persecution is increasing exponentially throughout the Middle East. The Arab spring has been less about democracy and more about a return to radical Islam. The fundamentalists hold the intellectual high ground in Islam today. Many Muslims have been bemoaning their loss of power and influence. They believe that Muslim countries should be the richest and most powerful. They feel humiliated that other countries are more powerful militarily, economically and politically. The Islamists are calling for a back to the Quran fundamentalist movement to restore an Islamic Caliphate which will restore military, political and economic power to Islam. The people throughout the Middle East are seeking answers – in the empty well of Islam. But honest seekers after God are coming to Christ. We see the average Muslim as a victim of a hopeless, helpless philosophy. Open Doors contacts have distributed more Bibles in the Middle East in the last 9 months than in the previous 9 years. The spiritual hunger is intense, but the situation is volatile and unstable.

What do you believe that we can learn from the persecuted Church?

We have much that we can learn from the persecuted Church: their faith, their devotion to prayer, the love for studying the Word of God. Persecution purifies a church. The hangers-on and those with mixed motives tend to disappear when persecution heats up. Persecution creates more courageous Christians. Persecution deepens and grows the church. It is actually a spiral. Churches that challenge the devil’s strongholds come under persecution. This persecution weeds out those with impure motives and leads to better and bolder witnesses who win more converts and bring about more persecution. This in turn deepens and strengthens a church even more and makes it even more powerful and effective for Christ.

Then what can we say about those churches which are not experiencing any persecution at all?

If satan isn’t gunning for you, you must ask: Why? The forces of darkness don’t need to waste their time on comfortable and irrelevant Christians who are wrapped up in their own entertainment. Lukewarm Christians just aren’t worth the bullet.

Many Missions have suffered a dramatic decline in financial support since the economic depression of 2008. How has this affected Open Doors?

Like all missions and ministries we suffered a drop in support following the economic downturn. What we found was that some larger donors stopped supporting Open Doors, or reduced their gifts. But on the positive side, many other supporters remained faithful even in tough times. That was a real blessing and encouragement for us and those who suffer persecution around the world. Also, one of the trends we found is that some mega-churches have stopped supporting long-established mission agencies and instead opted to send out their own missionaries and mission teams. However they are ignoring generations of networks and experience in trying to set up their own works in countries where they may not have any history of involvement.

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