Christians worldwide will be observing the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church today by joining together to intercede for those who daily suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental human right,” states a video produced by the World Evangelical Alliance. “In spite of this, religious freedom is fast declining around the world.”
Statistics show that 80 percent of global persecution is directed against Christians as over 100 million believers face persecution each day.
“In countries like Eritrea, Iran and Sudan, countless Christians languish in prison for their faith,” the organization outlines. “In Pakistan, India and Nepal, Christian face discrimination and marginalization because of their faith. In Sri Lanka, pastors are beaten and harassed for their faith. In places like Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, Christian families live in constant fear of violence and death.”
Open Doors USA also produced videos outlining the plight of Christians in China and North Korea, where following Jesus is often a crime.
“In 1949, China became a communist country and placed severe Christians on the Church. Restrictions were so tight that it was seemingly impossible to bring even one Bible into the country,” it outlines. “The citizens of North Korea are forced into a god-like worship of their leader Kim Jung Un, and Christianity is seen as a threat.”
Open Doors notes that over 50,000 Christians are being held in prison camps in North Korea, and that 2014 was one of the worst years of Christian persecution in contemporary history with an increased number of beatings, rapes, kidnappings and murders worldwide.
Both World Evangelical Alliance and Open Doors USA are offering free resources for pastors to help congregations remember those suffering and in chains, such as prayer sheets for specific nations, prayer calendars, videos and slide shows, and bulletin inserts encouraging prayer for the persecuted.
“Can we today pause our busy lives and think of those who are enduring persecution for the sake of the gospel?” asked World Evangelical Alliance Director Godfrey Yogarajah.
“Let us remember those who have not eaten for days because they are given nothing to eat, those languishing in prison, Christian families who have watched their homes burn to the ground, pastors who are beaten and tortured for their faith and enduring physical pain, Christian families and children living in constant fear of violence, those who have lost their loved ones, those who are facing death, even right at this moment, for refusing to denounce Christ,” he said.
“If you or I were in such a situation, what would you ask your wider Church family to do for you?” Yogarajah inquired. “Let us unite in prayer for the persecuted Church in the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded: ‘For, if one suffers, we all suffer.’”