The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is Sunday November 6. The theme chosen for this year, “Not Abandoned”, is taken from Paul’s message is 2 Corinthians 4:9.
The apostle wrote of the experience of serving Christ in this fallen world: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
The persecution of Christians began with the birth of the Church and has not abated over the centuries. IDOP reports, “Persecution is real. It’s a daily reality for more than 360 million Christians worldwide.” The number is staggering. In the late 90s, reports indicated that some 200 million Christians worldwide who were persecuted for their faith in Christ. The escalation signals the urgent need for prayer.
Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4 are often echoed by some of our co-workers in severely restricted access nations — not abandoned by the One who calls them into service, and not abandoned by the Body of believers who pray for them.
Like Paul, they value the prayers of believers. We must remember their suffering and lift them and their circumstances to the throne of grace.
In October I was in conversations with co-workers abroad who describe their experience. They speak of a constant sense of being watched by authorities who scrutinize every aspect of their lives. Many experience the torment of intense interrogation which often leads to imprisonment and long separation from family and friends. They are without a clear path through the hostilities and have little hope that justice will be done.
Despite the risks, they are determined to go on in their harsh context. Daily they come and go about their life and ministry with a keen sense of the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s protection. They make the smallest decisions with prayer, relying on the counsel of God’s Spirit — don’t cross the street here…get out of this building now, and so on.
Those who are alone in a prison cell or enduring brutal and emotionally draining interrogations, testify of having a clear sense that they are not abandoned, ultimately. They know that God sees them and is with them.
Through the ministry of EHC, you and I are connected to brothers and sisters who serve with creativity and courage in over half of the nations listed in this issue.
We are also co-labourers together with believers in many more nations beyond this list who also serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel in extremely difficult circumstances.
Our co-workers ask that we pray for God’s grace and strength to be poured into their hearts so that they may be sustained in their important work and get the gospel to everyone possible in their mission field.
I invite you to set aside time on your calendar this month to specifically pray for Christians who suffer for their faith. God will not abandon his people, and neither will we. Let’s pray for persecuted Christians. For the list of the 50 nations where it is most dangerous to follow Christ, please visit IDOP.ca and register to receive the free IDOP 2022 Resource Kit.