Christians are being called to come together today to pray for the millions of people around the world who are being persecuted for their faith.
Organisers of this year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church say over 340 million Christians are experiencing attacks which are becoming increasingly more barbaric.
The charities, Open Doors, CSW, Release International and Evangelical Alliance are inviting Christians to join a webinar this evening, Sunday 7th November at 7.30pm GMT, for an evening of prayer and worship.
The event will feature updates and prayer requests from countries including Eritrea and Nigeria, as well as special prayers and reflections for Afghanistan.
CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, Henrietta Blyth has been speaking to Premier about the scale of persecution around the world :
“We've been running the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church for many years. Last year for the first time we got together with our partner organisations, CSW, Release International and the Evangelical Alliance and we led a prayer event to encourage people to pray. It was a huge blessing and 2000 people joined us online. So we're really excited to be doing the same thing this evening.
“When I travel and meet Christians who are experiencing this severe persecution and opposition, one of the things that blows them away, is that people in other countries know what's happening to them and praying for them and that they're not alone. They find this such a massive encouragement. Of course, we know this is also a spiritual battle, so our prayers make a huge difference.
“Our annual research, which produces the World Watch List, the list of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians, has been showing over the last few years that the spread and the severity of the persecution is tragically getting worse. Jesus did say we'd be persecuted. But the acts of violence and the breaking of the freedom to choose the religion and belief you want to follow yourself are just shocking and a massive injustice. This is an issue that everyone should be concerned about.
“It’s so humbling to hear the challenges people face and see them standing strong in their faith in spite of them. When we meet people and ask them, 'How can we pray for you?', they always say, 'Don't pray for the persecution to stop', which is shocking, isn't it? They say, 'Pray that we'll be able to stand firm in our faith and continue to be salt and light in our communities, in spite of it. Pray for our persecutors, that through our witness, they will come to know Jesus themselves as their personal saviour.'
“So it's counter-intuitive, but we're not praying for the persecution to stop. We're praying for God's light, to shine through the witness of people who are being persecuted. It's interesting that in Matthew five, as soon as Jesus had said, 'Your blessed when you're persecuted, because great is your reward in heaven.' He went straight into the bit about being salt and light and not hiding your light under a bushel, and not losing your saltiness. I think our persecuted brothers and sisters really model that.
“Biblically, Jesus made it quite clear we would experience persecution, that we shouldn't be afraid of that and that through the persecution, his glory, and his victory would be seen.”
The webinar begins this evening at 7.30pm GMT and you can join it here :
Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Standing Strong Prayer Without Borders - Open Doors UK & Ireland