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New Open Doors USA Program Connects Students to Persecuted Christians

Contact: Jerry Dykstra, Open Doors USA, 616-915-4117, jerryd@odusa.org

SANTA ANA, Calif., March 14, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- The new Open Doors USA college and youth program called "Open Doors Fortify" is off to a fast start.

"We are excited about what God has done through this new outreach to students," says Open Doors USA College & Youth Director Kate Yates. "There is such enthusiasm among the students I have met in the last few months. They have a passion to reach out to persecuted believers in prayer and in other tangible ways. It has been a joy to interact with them."

At a recent youth event in Nashville, a total of over 300 students committed to pray and advocate for persecuted Christians, who are the most oppressed faith group in the world. Students can link arms and hearts with suffering Christians through two new programs -- United in Christ and Change for Change.

United in Christ offers the opportunity to encourage Christians in war-torn Iraq through the use of social media. Young people are urged to record a video message of hope and prayers for believers in Iraq, which is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. The messages are posted on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube with the hashtag #UIC2014. Open Doors facilitates distributing the posts to the proper places.

"Christians face severe persecution and violence in Iraq," says Yates. "Though there were more than 1.5 million Christians living there in 2003, Open Doors now estimates that only 330,000 believers remain. The United in Christ outreach program sends a message of hope to Christians, especially young Christians, in Iraq."

An Open Doors field worker says: "It's heart warming that so many young people are praying for Iraq. We can't wait to show persecuted Christians the videos so they can see they are not forgotten by their fellow followers of Jesus."

To watch the videos from around the world, go to www.uic2014.org.

The Change for Change campaign asks students across America to give up something they value or usually purchase for one month and donate the money to help support persecuted Christians in the nearly 60 countries where Open Doors works.  Students can sacrifice coffee, soft drinks, snacks or hobbies for a week and contribute that money toward the ministry of Open Doors. Supporters then can send a check with the funds saved to: Open Doors USA, 1956-J University Blvd. S #255, Mobile, AL 36609.

Formerly Yates was intellectual property manager for Open Doors International. She has a Master of Arts degree in Christian education from Talbot Theological Seminary (CA) and more than 10 years' experience in youth ministry. She has traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe to meet and encourage persecuted believers.

Yates can be contacted at katey@odusa.org. To follow her on Twitter, go to @ODUSAFortify.

For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians in the areas of Bible and gospel development, women and children's advancement and Christian community restoration. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

(To set up an interview or for more information, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email