Praying for the persecuted church
Christians worldwide commit to a month of prayer and remembrance
When Boko Haram insurgents attacked Rebecca’s village in northern Nigeria, they made her watch as they murdered her husband and son. After months of grieving, she returned to the charred remains of her home and found her Bible in the rubble.
“I still use this Bible,” she said. “It reminds me of God’s faithfulness.”
More than 360 million Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith. On Sunday, Christians around the world will gather online and in churches to pray and call for better protection on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
The World Evangelical Association for Religious Liberty launched the annual event in 1996. It was inspired by the 1994 Day of Prayer for Iran after the disappearance of an Assemblies of God bishop and other cases of persecution. Advocacy and nonprofit groups such as Open Doors and Christian Solidarity Worldwide now work together to create resources for a month of activities.
Alicia Edmund, head of public policy at the U.K.-based Evangelical Alliance, said about 3,000 Christians joined to pray online last year. Prayers this year will focus on Christians in China, Iraq, Cuba, and Nigeria. The plight of believers in other countries, like Iran, where deadly protests have continued, also points to the need for awareness.
“It’s a great educational moment for us to learn the experience of those that are suffering,” Edmund said.
Partner groups like Voice of the Martyrs released the video of Rebecca and provided other resources to guide people to pray.
Vernon Brewer, the founder of World Help, will speak about persecuted Christians on Sunday to congregants at West Ridge Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga. He noted that other partner churches have committed to praying for the persecuted this coming Lord’s Day.
Brewer’s ministry also supplies Bibles to Christians in North Korea and elsewhere. “With the starvation happening in North Korea right now, you would think that would be their No. 1 request, but it’s not,” he said. “They want more Bibles.”
Edmund sees partnerships and global prayers as a sign of the unity of the church: “It’s such an opportunity for us in the Western church to be inspired by the resilience and character of men, women, and children who boldly proclaim the name of Christ and know it could come at a personal cost to them.” “…”