More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than all previous centuries combined, and this onslaught has continued unabated into the new century, according to some, with over 200 million Christians in 80 countries worldwide being persecuted because of their faith.
This November, large numbers of churches and individuals around the world will pray for persecuted believers on the thirteenth annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). This was an initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission and is supported by ministries such as Voice of Martyrs, Open Door, and Gospel for Asia.
Set on November 9th, this might be the "biggest prayer group in the world," according to the Rev. Johan Candelin, the global IDOP coordinator from Finland. “More than 200 million Christians do not have full religious freedom today. The least we can do is the most we can do: PRAY!”
Its 2008 theme is "Refined in Fire."
“When the Lord's children go into the refining fire of persecution, they come out purer with deeper faith and greater strength, more Christ-focused and more unified,” said the Rev. Candelin, who is also the Executive Director of the WEA’s Religious Liberty Commission. “Those who are being persecuted can therefore be encouraged to look with hope at how they are being sanctified. And those who pray for them can be reminded to place sanctification on a higher pedestal than prosperity.”
Specific prayer requests concerning 36 nations and 46 national leaders plus other resources for targeted praying, are available from the global IDOP website (idop.org). Those using mobile devices can access the materials at idop.mobi.
“IDOP is an important opportunity for the church around the world to stand in solidarity with brothers and sisters from across the globe, who are suffering as they seek to follow Christ,” said Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director of WEA. “I urge all churches to participate in IDOP. It will be life-changing.”