Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry advocates on behalf of those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. He provides leadership to Open Doors in its mission to strengthen and equip Christians who live under extreme restrictions, while encouraging these believers to remain strong in their faith.
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive regions, empowering and equipping persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries by providing Bibles, training, and programs to help those who have been marginalized because of their beliefs as well as helping to restore those communities that have been targets of persecution. For twenty years Open Doors has published the World Watch List, a report on the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
Since assuming the role of CEO in August 2013, Curry has traveled extensively to the field to encourage those living under persecution and support the work of Open Doors. He appears frequently on Fox News and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. He has also been published or featured in sources such as CBS News, CNN, The Washington Post, Christianity Today, USA Today, The Christian Post, and other news outlets. Prior to coming to Open Doors, Curry served as CEO and president at Christian organizations that serve homeless and neglected children in several countries, including India and Peru.
Curry is the author of four books: First Aid for Enablers, It's Not How Far You Fall It's How High You Bounce, God Plays Golf and Change Your World! Curry holds a bachelor's degree from Northwest University in Seattle and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Faith Evangelical College and Seminary based in Tacoma, Washington. Based in Santa Ana, California, Curry and his wife have two children.
Q: David, thanks for doing this interview with us. Why don't we start with yourself? Tell us a little about yourself and Open Doors.
I am the CEO of Open Doors USA. What motivates me is the injustice that I see against people who want to practice their faith in places like North Korea, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. My job allows me to focus on doing whatever I can to make sure people who do not have a voice for their faith, are heard. I am a follower of Jesus, not a religious person necessarily, but someone who has seen the power of Jesus.
Open Doors started years ago with a man, using the code name "Brother Andrew," who started smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union because he believed everyone should have ability to read the Bible and decide for themselves what they thought of Jesus. That was a dangerous thing to do, which required him to put his life on the line. Today Open Doors continues to support Christians suffering in the most difficult places for faith.
Q: One of the areas you are working with right now is in Nigeria. Can you briefly describe for us the persecution that is going on in Nigeria now?
Every two weeks there seems to be an attack on Christians in Nigeria, the most recent being 17 Christians kidnapped directly from their choir practice and held captive until this moment. Attacks like this are indicative of the tremendous persecution that Jesus people are facing in the north of Nigeria. It is motivated by two Islamic extremist groups, Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsman, who each have their religiously motivated reasons for attacking Christians. The result is a faith community under pressure. More than 30,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram in the past few years and no one knows about it.
Q: What are some of the kinds of threats Christians are facing now?
Christians have tended to live in close-knit communities in the north of Nigeria, for community and familial reasons. But this also makes them an easy target for raids on these communities. The women are especially vulnerable, with many Christian women kidnapped and forced into marriage or sold in slave trade...all because they are Christians and considered a second-class citizen. Because of the Islamic Sharia Law in these areas there is often nothing that can be done legally to get these captives back. It's a very sick system.
Q: Why is ISIS killing Christians there?
Boko Haram, which is a partner of ISIS, wants to set up a Islamic Caliphate - they want their own kingdom - in that area. This means they feel religiously justified to kill Christians or drive them out. ISIS has provided money and technical training - bomb-making and other type training - to help Boko Haram gain traction and power. So far, they are succeeding in driving Christians out, as many have gone south to more populated areas. But those that remain to be salt and light in their community are heroically living their faith despite great pressure.
Q: And who is Boko Haram? What is its role in this persecution?
Like Al Qaeda and ISIS before it, Boko Haram has an ideology of Wahhabism, which is the most radical interpretation of Islam. Their goal is to set up a medieval understanding of Islam, no education for women and a total enforcement of Islamic Sharia law. Practically, that means that they can force you by law to follow Islam or kill you. It makes them a motivated and dangerous force, especially because the government of Nigeria has been slow and ineffective in their response to Boko Haram.
Q: How is Open Doors helping the people in Nigeria now?
Christians there need food, aid, training and trauma care. You can imagine that these Christian churches are often feeling isolated and afraid, and left to themselves they may not have the tools to survive. Open Doors will do everything we can to help make sure they are not alone. We are a presence ministry that is there with them on the ground, but there is so much more we can do.
Q: How can we help and respond to situation like this?
I encourage people to get knowledgeable, and then adopt a project in Nigeria to make sure that we strengthen the Christians there to stand strong in the storm. Opendoorsusa.org has stories, videos and projects that help you to understand the people and families we are helping and how you can take part.