International Days of Prayer for the persecuted church

Published 3:37 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

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To the Editor:
The first and second Sundays in November (6th and 13th) are designated by various Christian organizations worldwide as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). There are over 360 million Christians in 60 countries currently suffering. Globally, one in seven Christians lives in places where they face persecution for their faith. They are real and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Christians are uniting in prayer for the persecuted church in the spirit of oneness that Jesus commanded in 1 Cor. 12:26, “for if one suffer, we all suffer!” Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” They ask that we pray that they stand firm. See #standfirm.
The American media and world media doesn’t cover Christian persecution. Because of increased technology persecution levels are at an all-time high and growing worldwide. In China where there are an estimated 100 million Christians, persecution against Christians has taken a technological turn. China has developed popular facial recognition software to control its citizens and make it difficult for Christians to travel and worship freely. In India, the government plans to introduce a national facial recognition system to track its citizens which poses a great threat to Christians since they don’t follow the Hindu religion the official religion of India. In Africa and around the world Christians are being denied medical aid because of their Christian faith.
According to each month hundreds of Christians are killed for their faith in Jesus, hundreds of churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and hundreds of Christians have violence committed against them such as beating, abduction, rapes, arrests and forced marriages. According to the U.S. Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or neighbors simply because of their belief in and love for Jesus. Where does Christian persecution occur? Almost all persecution is directed against Christians living in Islamic and Atheist Communist countries. Why does persecution occur? In the case of North Korea, China and other communist countries authoritarian governments work to control all religious expression because they want all loyalty to be to their country and to its rulers. The Bible tells us why Islamic people kill Christians. John 16 says, “…the time will come, that whoever kills you(Christians) will think they are doing God’s service. These things they do because they have not known God the Father nor me (Jesus).”  Join in prayer for those who share our Christian faith but not our freedom!
The Bible tells Christians to take a stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and be a voice for the voiceless in Hebrews 13 and Psalm 82. The Bible tells us in Matthew 5, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” Persecuted Christians don’t ask us to pray that persecution would end, but rather ask us to pray that they stand strong through the persecution. They don’t wish to be delivered from the persecution, but rather ask us to pray that they would be able to forgive their persecutors and overcome the trials they are facing in a way that is honoring to God. “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, hold fast to the promises of God, and live victoriously in Christ Jesus.” Christian Dumitru Duduman said he was being beaten for giving out Bibles and thought he would die. Duduman said the Holy Spirit said to him shout “the blood of Jesus.” So Duduman did over and over and the head persecutor dropped dead. The other persecutors freed Duduman because they said they didn’t want to die.  Hardship allows us to know Jesus more deeply and through storms Christians discover the love of Jesus in new and powerful ways. Rev.12:11 says, “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb(Jesus) and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” For Christians overcoming is much greater than deliverance! The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. Not tribulation, distress, persecution, or sword. Therefore persecution isn’t a defeat for the Christian!
Today as in the book of Acts in the Bible, Christians are persecuted all over the world for loving and following Jesus.  Christians are the world’s most persecuted and victimized people. More Christians are suffering than at any time in world history. Those Christians being persecuted are obeying Jesus who commanded, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Like these brave persecuted Christians we Americans should choose faith over fear and attend church and pray for them. We Americans must do as the persecuted Christians are doing and act out of love and faith and not out of fear. It is so true what the late Richard Sammons used to say, “there is one church in Elizabethton meeting at different locations.” One Savior. One church. One family. These persecuted Christians are our family, our brothers and sisters and we must stand with them and kneel in prayer for them! We need more like martyrs and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who spoke out against the evil of Hitler. Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil, God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act!”
D.D. Nave

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