The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Sundays 5th and 12th of November have been set apart to advocate and pray for the Persecuted Church. This year’s motto is “From ashes to glory”.
According to statistics, at least 100 million Christians around the world deal with persecution everyday. In countries such as North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sudan or Sri Lanka, Christians often suffer routine harassment and difficulties in silence and isolation.
Discrimination in education and employment, physical assaults, violence, beatings, confinement, isolation, rape, imprisonment, slavery, and even death is the reality of many Christians worldwide.
“THE BIBLE CALLS US TO IDENTIFY WITH THOSE WHO SUFFER”
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) officially launched the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) in 1996, encouraging local churches worldwide to dedicate a Sunday of November to pray for the persecuted Christians.
Since then, the IDOP has served as a platform to highlight their stories and advocate their plight, a source of solidarity and encouragement to persecuted Christians by reminding them that they are part of a larger, global family of believers.
“The Bible in Hebrews 13:3 command Christians to pray for those suffering as if they themselves were suffering. It calls us to not only remember those who suffer but also to identify with them in their suffering”, Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director WEA Religious Liberty Commission, says.
Additionally, “we believe that God uses the prayers of his people to strengthen and deliver suffering saints”, he points out.
“FROM ASHES TO GLORY”
This year's motto is “From ashes to glory”, because “even though persecution and suffering may be the present reality for some believers, the Scriptures promise that their journey, ultimately would be from ashes to glory […] triumph is their ultimate reward”.
That is why the WEA and many Christian organisations invite Christians “to join us this year on 5th and 12th November as we unite globally to pray for the persecuted”.
“Let’s pray that in spite of the pressure and persecution, our suffering brothers and sisters –where ever they may be in the world — would stand firm in their faith, holding fast to the promises of God in Christ”, the IDOP organisers say.
The IDOP webpage also offers many different resources for local churches to prepare their events.
PRAYING FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE IN NOVEMBER
This year the IDOP unites millions of Christians around the world the first 3 Sundays of November, in the spirit that scripture commands: “If one suffers, we all suffer”.
In Spain, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance has set November 5th and 12th for local churches to pray for the persecuted church, and provides many resources for them in its webpage. Open Doors inthat country has organised its 9th Praying gathering for the persecuted church, that will take place simultaneously in 33 Spanish cities on November 11th.
In Italy, churches will gahter in local meetings to pray and support organisations working for the persecuted Christians.
Christians in the UK and Ireland will celebrate the IDOP on Sunday, November 19th. The organisers are calling on churches to dedicate the whole of November to pray for persecuted believers, using the message ‘One Month, One Church, One Prayer’.
"The shocking rise in the persecution of Christians worldwide must be a priority for the whole Church, not just a concerned few. That's why we are uniting with fellow ministries to call the Church to wake up to the crisis and to be family to those who are suffering for the faith we share", Lisa Pearce, chief executive officer at Open Doors UK, says.
Millions of othe Christians in churches across the world will pray for the persecuted church in the next days.