BreakPoint: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Wake up, Speak out, Pray

More Christians are persecuted today than ever before. Which is why we need to join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

On a sunny day last May, several families climbed onto a couple of buses, happily looking forward to visiting a monastery together.

They never made it. Instead, half of them, including ten children, were slaughtered. You see, these families were Egyptian Christians.

Islamic terrorists dressed in military fatigues stopped the buses and ordered the riders off. As one eyewitness later said, “As each pilgrim came off the bus, they were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam. But all of them—even the children—refused.”  The terrorists murdered 29 Christians before fleeing.

This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It’s a time to focus our attention on our brothers and sisters who are being arrested, tortured, murdered, and driven out of their homeland, simply because they worship Jesus.

The attack in Egypt was just one of many around the world last spring. In Germany, a Muslim stabbed a woman to death—one who had converted from Islam to Christianity.

In Pakistan, a Christian pastor was sentenced to life in prison and tortured for blasphemy. He reportedly has been tortured many times.

In North Korea, entire families are thrown into labor camps, where they often die from torture, beatings, and starvation.

In Turkey last year, American missionary Andrew Brunson was locked up on the absurd grounds that he was a terrorist.

Islamists have also swept through Niger, setting fire to Christian churches, orphanages, schools and homes. I could go on.

According to Open Doors USA, the worst offenders are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan. Sometimes Christians are persecuted by a hostile government, as in China. But in the majority of countries, Islamist extremists are at fault. Tragically, western governments and the United Nations are not doing enough to prevent genocidal efforts, according to the Catholic News Agency.

They should—and they must. More Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in history. Some one hundred million believers are at risk. And yet, the world press largely ignores this massive humanitarian horror.

Why, you may ask, are Christians being persecuted in such great numbers today? In part, it’s because they’re considered part of the “imperial” West. And in many countries, Christians are the ones who are speaking out against the exploitation of the poor.  Third, Christianity is spreading rapidly in predominantly Muslim countries. And totalitarian leaders hate Christians because our ultimate allegiance is always going to be to God and not to a government.

Finally, writes Laura McAlister on the blog site Ignitum Today, “the hidden reality behind all persecution” is revealed in the book of Revelation: It teaches that Satan “makes war” on “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

Folks, we need to wake up, speak out, and urge our leaders in government to do what it can to fight atrocities committed against innocent men, women, and children around the world.

Above all, we need to pray for them fervently. Lifting them up before God’s throne is what persecuted Christians say they need most.

There are two websites I urge you to visit. First, go to opendoorsusa.org, you’ll find resources to help you and your church observe this international day of prayer for the persecuted church.  Then there’s the Voice of the Persecuted.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to them both.

Finally, to those who are suffering for their faith, I leave you with the words of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid . . .for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Wake up, Speak out, Pray

It’s not a cliche: We need to intercede for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering because they proclaim the name of Christ. So pray, and get engaged with organizations that offer support for persecuted believers across the globe.


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  • jhsmb

    Don’t forget also the Ministry Voice of the Martyrs founded by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

  • Phoenix1977

    “Tragically, western governments and the United Nations are not doing enough to prevent genocidal efforts, according to the Catholic News Agency.”
    I hope you do realize why? Every attempt to intervene in the African region by the UN was met with an American veto in the UN Security Council. Every attempt of intervention in the Asian region could count on a Russian veto. Pakistan can even count on both countries for support, traditionally from Russia and from the US because it is an ally. Not that I think it truly matters much to begin with. In 2015 President Obama attempted to steer India in a certain direction when it was dealing with problems between religions (a Muslim man slaughtered a cow in a Hindu neighborhood, causing his Hindu neighbors to lynch him) and Obama was said to mind his own business and not to interfere in the internal affairs of India. And that’s the way more than one country looks at the US nowadays.

    “And yet, the world press largely ignores this massive humanitarian horror.”
    Again, with a little research you’d know why. The media, just as doctors, scientists and some other professions, have been vilified by the church on numerous occasions. So is it that strange there is no love lost there? And besides, the press needs to sell either papers, advertising space or advertising time. That time is only worth money if people actually read / watch the program the advertisement is associated with. That will only happen if the media report on things the average Joe cares about. Terrorist attacks in Africa, tortured priests in Pakistan or arrested and deported families in China or North Korea are not among those subjects. The new torso filling tattoo Justin Bieber got does.

    “Which is why we need to join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.”
    Wonderful initiative. What I am wondering: when we can expect the first International Day of Prayer for those Persecuted by the Church. I guess when Hell freezes over?

    • Zarm

      The explanation for why the largest religious persecution in history of this religious group, with men, women, and children being slaughtered, isn’t making the news, is because the media has been criticized, and/or they’re more interested in ratings? Doesn’t that make every bit of criticism 100% accurate, not to mention mean the news is completely failing in its job to report the news?

      I don’t disagree that that’s probably the reason, but that’s a reprehensible reason. And ironic that the media would respond to criticisms that they’re biased and not reporting the truth by… being biased and not reporting the truth.

  • bill.leep

    I’m reminded of the Germany in the 1930’s

    Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran minister and early Nazi supporter who was later imprisoned for opposing Hitler’s regime – Best Remembered for this Quote:

    First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Communists.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • William Millsaps

    We were blessed to put in the paths of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, Corrie Ten Boom and others. We knew that persecution was growing, not declining as many claimed. Thank you for your witness. The IDOP is helpful in many ways, but too often we seem to think that one Sunday is enough. No, rather this must be our daily concern and we must speak up loud and often. We may also be called to take our persecuted brothers and sisters into our own homes.