In the traditional church calendar, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day stand out in the month of November, set apart to remember the saints of the church and the souls of those who departed this world. It is fitting, then, that the modern church has set apart the month of November to remember and pray for the persecuted church, through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
Believers in countries such as Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam face violence, imprisonment and even death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. There are other places in the world such as North Korea where acts of persecution take place, but we don’t see or hear of it. Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said: 'Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison.'
IDOP is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
This year our focus includes the plight of Christians in India, who are suffering increasing persecution by militants who want a Hindu-only India. Please watch the new 7-minute Free to Follow video, and make use of the prayers for India, as well as those for Nigeria and Azerbaijan.
We invite you to explore the variety of resources on www.idop.org and hope you will join Christians worldwide in praying for persecuted Christians this November.
Please note that while Sunday, November 10, 2013, is the designated date for IDOP (November 3 in the UK and Ireland), you are free to choose another date if you wish.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:3 to 'remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering'.
Can we today pause our busy lives and think of those who are enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel? Let us remember those who have not eaten for days because they are given nothing to eat … those languishing in prison … Christian families who have watched their homes burn to the ground … pastors who are beaten and tortured for their faith and enduring physical pain … Christian families and children living in constant fear of violence … those who have lost their loved ones … those who are facing death, even right at this moment, for refusing to denounce Christ…
If you or I were in such a situation, what would you ask your wider church family to do for you?
Every time I ask a persecuted Christian what we can do for them, the answer is always the same: 'please pray for us'.
On a visit to India, I met several widows of Christian leaders who were killed in the Orissa violence in the summer of 2008. They had lost everything: their homes, their possessions and their husbands. 'We have lost everything except our faith,' one told me, clutching her baby. 'Pray that we stay strong and bring up our children in the faith for which their fathers gave their lives.'
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gives us the privilege of joining together with over half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for the suffering church. It plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted church and also awakening churches in places where there is no persecution.
Let us unite in prayer for the persecuted church, in the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded: 'For, if one suffers, we all suffer.'
Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance