All around the world the church is in lockdown – due to pandemic and persecution. Christian persecution is rising in plain sight, in the largest, most populous nations on earth.
The Evangelical Alliance, CSW, Open Doors and Release International are mobilising prayer for the 24th International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
Together they will be streaming an online prayer event on November 15. The focus is on three major countries where persecution is rising: China, India and Nigeria.
Eighty per cent of religious persecution around the world today is directed at Christians, according to the International Society for Human Rights – and the evidence points to persecution rising.
In India, Christians are attacked by far-right Hindu extremists. In China churches are torn down, crosses removed and pastors arrested. And in Nigeria, terrorist and militant groups are slaughtering Christians and driving them from their villages.
‘In plain sight’
‘Persecution doesn’t just hide in the backwaters. It is taking place in plain sight in the largest and most populous nations on earth,’
says Paul Robinson, the CEO of Release International.
‘In countries like China, Christians don’t just face lockdown – they’re being locked out of their churches in growing numbers. Even state-controlled churches are being demolished and destroyed.’
India is another country of growing concern, adds Robinson.
‘Attacks and false accusations against Christians are now almost a daily occurrence – and this in the world’s largest democracy, the second most populous nation on earth.’
And in Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, attacks on Christian villages increased in 2020. Heavily armed Fulani militants are driving Christians from their homes – adding to the clear and present danger from Boko Haram terrorists.
Stop the silence
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) began in 1996, when a coalition of Christian organisations recognised that more Christians had died for their faith in the 20th century than in all the centuries combined since the Church began. They pledged that the global Church would no longer be silent about the increasing persecution of Christians.
‘Our prayer for IDOP 2020 is to help our brothers and sisters in India, China and Nigeria to rise above persecution – and remain faithful in their worship and witness,’ says Paul Robinson.
Release International has produced video, PowerPoint and other resources as a focus for prayer. They can be downloaded here
The online IDOP event will run from 7.30pm to 8.30pm on Sunday November 15. Register in advance here
Through its international network of missions, Release International is active in some 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.