By Katie Ascough - 02 November, 2019
This Sunday, 3 November, marks the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. According to the group, International Day of Prayer (IDOP), more than 245 million Christians live in a place where they experience high levels of persecution.
The IDOP group invites people to register on their website to receive their resource package which includes a video, 2019 theme poster, four country profiles, children’s material, creative ideas, suggested song list, bulletin insert, leader’s checklist, quotes, scripture verses, and more.
This dedicated day of prayer comes just over a week after Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) released their 2017-19 edition of Persecuted and Forgotten? The report highlights four harrowing personal stories: Rita Habib, the Daesh (ISIS) captive who returned home to Qaraqosh, Iraq; the attack on St Ignatius’ Church in Nigeria; the bombing of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Philippines; and Asia Bibi, the first woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan who was subsequently freed.
The report also goes into depth on the state of Christian persecution in 12 countries: Burma (Myanmar), Central African Republic, China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. In the period July 2017 to July 2019 (inclusive), ACN found that Christian persecution improved for one of these countries, remained at a similar level for five, and worsened for six. The area highlighted for having worsened the most was South and East Asia, which the report coins a ‘hot spot’ for persecution.
At-a-glance findings of the report showed that persecution in core Middle East countries such as Syria and Iraq has declined significantly following a period of genocide earlier in the decade. “The impact of this genocide – continuing migration, security crises, extreme poverty, and slow recovery – means that it may now be too late for some Middle East Christian communities to recover. In some towns and cities, the countdown to Christianity’s disappearance is ticking ever louder,” the report states.
In Sri Lanka and the Philippines, attacks on churches exemplify “an unholy trinity of threats facing Christians in South and East Asia: Islamic extremism, populist nationalism, and authoritarian regimes”.
“From Nigeria in West Africa to Madagascar in the east,” the report continues, “Christians in parts of Africa are threatened by Islamists seeking to eliminate the Church — either by use of force or by dishonest means, including bribing people to convert.”
The 19-page report, particularly the case studies, outline the terror and danger that millions of Christians around the world are currently facing. It is important that we remember to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
To register for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church with IDOP, click here.