Some were not interested in losing their power and corrupt privileges. Others preferred to continue their religious life with a “straw God”.
The IDOP joins millions of Christians worldwide, to pray for those who suffer because of their faith in Jesus. Resources are offered by several organisations with facts and prayer requests.
Today, more than 100 million Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith in Christ. Christians in countries such as North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sudan or Sri Lanka risk their lives everyday.
Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.
According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and most of these people are Christians). The United States Department of State, reports that Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbours, only because of their faith.
IDOP: PRAYING FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH SINCE 1996
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), started in 1996 with a resolution on the worldwide persecution of Christians passed in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.
Many Christian organizations, along with tireless advocates for the persecuted Christians, convicted by the realization that more people had died for their Christian faith in the twentieth century than in all the previous centuries combined, met for the first time and issued a “Statement of Conscience and Call to Action” in which they pledged “to end our own silence in the face of the suffering of all those persecuted for their religious faith.”
After that inaugural event, a smaller team, formed by local Christian organizations and the U.S. representative of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF, now World Evangelical Alliance), began to meet regularly to plan the first International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
That first IDOP took place on September 29, 1996, with 110 countries actively taking part on the event. Among those 110 countries were Sudan, China, and Iran, some of the countries that today, according to Open Doors, are at the top of the World Watch List of the most dangerous places for Christians to live.
In the modern church calendar, the moth of November is set apart to remember and pray for the persecuted church. In 2015, the specific dates are November 1, 8, and 15.
“A PRIVILEGE OF PRAYING FOR THE SUFFERING CHURCH”
“The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, gives us the privilege of joining together with over half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for the suffering church”, affirms Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director WEA Religious Liberty Commission.
“It plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted church and also awakening churches in places where there is no persecution”, he adds.
“We call on Christian leaders from all denominations to adopt IDOP as an annual event in the Church calendar, we must make sure that the plight of the persecuted Church is heard", UK Evangelical Alliance (EAUK) general director Steve Clifford says.
“The persecution of Christians does not stop, specially now with the difficult situation in Syria and Iraq; from North Korea to Colombia, the Body of Christ is suffering, and we need to be there for them in prayer”, the Religious Liberty Commission of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance states, encouraging Christians in the country to take action.
WEA IDOP ON NOVERMBER 1 AND 8
The Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), has set apart the first two Sundays of November to remember thousands of Christians around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
The WEA has a specific webpage with many resources to help churches organise their own IDOP activities.
MANY RESOURCES TO USE
The UK Evangelical Alliance launched its Religious Liberty Commission last February, as a collaboration with several organisations like Release International, Open Doors, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide. They marked the IDOP for the UK on Sunday, 15 November 2015, and urge churches to unite in prayer for those across the world suffering for their faith.
Among the resources they have created to equip churches throughout UK and worldwide, they made a video with testimonies of persecuted Christians, prepared presentations and different materials for the churches to use, and organised different events in several cities during the whole week.
At the beginning of the IDOP 2015 campaign, Open Doors organised a webcast, with guests from North Korea, Iraq and Kenya, that can be used by anyone, along with all the other resources that this organization has available for the IDOP.
There are other organizations which have resources, for all those churches and Christians that want to participate in the IDOP, like Critical Prayer Requests, International Christian Concern and The Voice of the Martyrs.
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3