This November Christian organisations are coming together to encourage the Church to pray for fellow believers who suffer because of their faith.
Around the world, many Christians risk harassment, discrimination, imprisonment or even the risk of death simply for trying to live out their faith or worship together.
The Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Alliance brings together Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors UK and Release International. Under the banner of One Month, One Church, One Prayer, we are calling on Christians to take time in their services to remember believers who are persecuted when they pray, meet together or share the gospel, or simply because of their faith.
Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance commented: “This is a chance for us to pray for believers around the world who suffer because of their faith in Jesus. We’re joining together to encourage the Church to join together in prayer.”
The month is centred on the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church on 19 November.
The global picture is sobering. In Iran believers may be forced to worship together in private homes, running the risk of arrest and imprisonment by the security services. In Northern Nigeria armed raids by Fulani herders have claimed the lives of innocent men, women and children and forced others from their homes into camps for the internally displaced. In Indonesia some churches are facing closure by the authorities and congregations attempting to meet together on Sundays face hostility from their neighbours.
Lisa Pearce, chief executive officer at Open Doors UK, says: “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.”
One request that is always made by Christians who are under pressure is for prayer, and this something that every Christian can do.
Paul Robinson, chief executive officer at Release International, said: “IDOP is the one big opportunity for the global Church to intercede for its persecuted brothers and sisters. In places such as Eritrea, China and North Korea Christians have been imprisoned for many years and they are comforted and strengthened when they know we have not given up raising their voice here in the UK.”
Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW said: “We warmly encourage Christians to unite under the theme of ‘One Month, One Church, One Prayer’, be it individually, in a small group or with your whole church, to pray together as a worldwide family and stand together with those who are persecuted for their faith.”
The Religious Liberty Commission has produced a video and prayer for churches to use on 19 November, or throughout the month. Christians are encouraged to share the video with their church and to meet together in prayer, while remembering those in other countries whose attempts to do the same are blocked, or who can only do so at great risk to themselves and their families.
As one Church, united under your holy headship, and knowing that we are all one family in Christ;
We pray for those who suffer in your name all over the world, our brothers and sisters, who share in that same great gift of salvation through your son, but who face injustice, oppression and even death because of their faith in you.
We want to walk with them as they journey through the valley of darkness, and we pray knowing that you are a God of compassion, comfort, and justice; who always hears their prayers, never leaves them and will forever be their fortress and shield, whatever they face.
We pray that you will grant them strength, courage, and protection from those who seek to harm them because they follow you; guidance and wisdom for when their path seems impossible to tread, and hope for a future where they have the freedom to worship you without fear.
In the name of Jesus,