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UK News

Day of prayer for the Middle East

Lebanese church leader Sami Dagher will be telling believers at Solihull Renewal Centre in Birmingham about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East as part of the day.

Prior to the event, he said: "I feel honoured to be able to come to the UK to make people aware of how Iraqis are suffering and desperately need your support and prayers."

A UN report found that in the first four months of 2014 alone Islamic State had killed or hurt around 24,000 civilians in Iraq, many of them Christians. This is not counting those kidnapped and enslaved by the extremist group, and casualties from other Middle Eastern countries such as Syria.

Islamic State has broadcast several high-profile murders of Christians. In January, the group beheaded the Japanese Christian and journalist Kenji Goto, while in April, militants murdered 30 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians.

Apart from the persecution of believers, prayers will include the end to political turmoil in countries like Syria, and an end to the humanitarian crisis in parts of the region.

Convener of the National Day of Prayer, Pastor Jonathan Oleyede, told Premier: "It's getting worse. America is being forced to reconsider whether they need to put troops on the ground... and the Islamic onslaught of Isis is actually now coming very close to Baghdad [the Iraqi capital].

"If you ask me where God is in all of it, I would say he's right there in the middle. He's there comforting those who've lost parents, those who've lost limbs, those who have lost their eyesight, those who have been tortured, and those who have lost family and loved ones.

"God is right there with them. God is not gonna be parachuting in from heaven saying 'stop all this nonsense'.

"Christians across this nation have Muslim neighbours, have people in the Islamic faith, and they need to reach out to, who are questioning what's going on with all this stuff that's happening in their religion, and we feel that this is a strategic time for the church to reach out to them, both those abroad, and those local to us."

Listen to Jonathan Oleyede speaking on Premier's Inspirational Breakfast.

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