Hope and despair
The BBC recently broadcast a programme about starvation in Yemen. In Our World, Starving Yemen* a reporter follows a Yemeni doctor as she visits families with malnourished children. Included is the story of an eighteen-month-old boy who is slowly starving because the only milk his body can digest is no longer available… His mother cries as she tells the doctor, ‘I’m losing my son and there is nothing I can do about it.’
It’s clear that many children have been dying in Yemen, while for the most part the media has looked away. Most of us know there is an ongoing war, but we know little of its devastating side effects: famine and disease. The doctor mentioned above has been buying medicine with her personal savings, remaining in Yemen alone while her husband and daughter stay in Jordan. She makes a powerful statement:
If you don’t die from an airstrike you die from illness, or starvation. The hardest way to die is from starvation.
Prior to the war, which began when Houthi rebels took hold of the capital, Sana’a, Yemen was a poor nation with many obstacles to overcome. Today, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia continues with its efforts to restore the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The daily bombings of Houthi strongholds have led to the displacement of more than three million Yemenis. But many remain, too poor to leave. They live with the constant threat of bombings, rarely leaving their homes for fear of being shot by snipers. Some live on little more than water and flour.
Hunger for the truth
While all of this is taking place, another hunger is clearly stirring hearts in Yemen. The Holy Spirit is moving mightily among the people of Yemen. There are no longer any foreign workers, but local believers are active and, of course, the internet is playing a crucial role.
At Arab World Media, we have had a steady stream of Yemenis getting in touch with us this year. In fact, since April there have only been two or three days without contact from at least one Yemeni!
One woman contacted us saying she wanted to study the Bible alone on the internet. She writes:
I was a Muslim but I left Islam because of the contradictions and terrorism that it adopts. Add to that the suppression of women. Those things made me hate and doubt Islam. I got out of it because I know that Islam can’t be from God, because God is Love, and that’s what is rooted in my heart. I want God to be a father who loves me and takes care of me. That’s what I have heard in Christianity. And I love Christ from the depth of my heart and want to follow him. Because I have a special love for Christ, I want to know his book and his commands. I want to live in his shelter for he is my refuge and my haven. He is the real father who loves us and cares about us. Thank you for taking care of me.
Eventually, we were able to connect her with some Yemeni believers and they met up in early August. A team member has also been able to talk to her husband and give him a detailed explanation of the gospel. Now both the lady and her husband are meeting with local believers.
Our chance to respond
Clearly, God has not forgotten about Yemen and neither should we. Although we cannot increase its prominence in the news, we can help fellow believers to become aware of the situation by talking about it in our church groups and services. We can encourage people to pray for the situation, particularly for a peaceful end to the conflict and for essential aid to reach those who need it. We can also raise funds and make donations to the various aid agencies that are working in the region. And, of course, your donations to our ministry make it possible for Yemeni seekers to receive personal support on their journey to faith.
Some resources for prayer
- Yemen country profile
- Yemen: Three ways to pray (AWM-Pioneers)
- Yemen’s Suffering Children (Interserve)
- Yemen fact sheet (Open Doors USA)
- Yemen Prayercast video
- Pray for Yemen (site dedicated to raising prayer for Yemen)
*Our World, Starving Yemen is no longer available to watch in full but you can view a shorter version on YouTube.