By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/LONDON (BosNewsLife)– Churches in Britain and Ireland participated Sunday, October 6, in the ‘International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church’ (IDOP), ahead of a similar global event next week.
“Every five minutes a Christian is martyred for [his or her] faith”, explained Christian advocacy group Christian Freedom International (CFI) in a presentation.
Organizers stress they have been motivated to organize a worldwide IDOP on November 13 by for instance Bible verses Hebrews 13:3 saying “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering,” and “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” in Psalm 10:17, according to the New International Translation.
At least over 100 million Christians face persecution around the world, said Open Doors, a group supporting Christians in dozens of “restrictive countries”, such as North Korea, Iran, Iraq, China and Colombia. “Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison,” said Open Doors founder Anne van der Bijl, also known as ‘Brother Andrew’.
The IDOP, which was first organized in 1996, has evolved into one of the largest worldwide prayer events in existence today, according to CFI estimates.
“For the past 15 years, thousands of churches and organizations, as well as individuals and families, have participated in the tradition of setting aside one Sunday each November to spend time in intercessory prayer for the millions of Christians around the world who are persecuted, oppressed, and even martyred for their faith each year,” the group explained.
Persecuted Christians “place intercessory prayer at the top of their list of needs,” CFI said.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom says persecution has become especially prevalent in countries such as India and Iraq, while countries “of particular concern” that have been known for “consistent religious and human rights violations” reportedly include North Korea, China, and Sudan.
“But the United States government is not alone in its monitoring of the crisis. Many Christian ministries and nonprofit organizations have made it their mission to advocate and provide humanitarian support for those in the persecuted church, most of whom suffer a range of abuses from societal or even family ostracism, physical abuse, kidnapping, or false imprisonment on an almost daily basis,” CFI added.
US-based CFI provides humanitarian, medical and other aid to “persecuted Christians” in countries like Burma, Pakistan, and Egypt where it claims “Christian persecution is steadily on the rise.” CFI says it also encourages churches and individuals throughout the U.S. to remember the persecuted and participate in the IDOP.