November 4, 2010
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church takes place on November 14 and we would like for you and your church to participate.
There are an estimated 100 million Christians in the world today facing harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence, torture, imprisonment and even death simply because they believe in Jesus Christ.
One country in need of your prayers right now is India, where persecution has spread across many states and is particularly strong where the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power.
At the extreme end of the scale, Christians have been killed and churches bulldozed or set alight. But all too common are the burning of Bibles, the denigration of Christians and the hate speech against them in the mainstream media, says Richard Howell, General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.
He says that while there is widespread “propaganda” against Christians, sadly the church in India is not equipped to respond effectively to it.
Prayer is one thing believers everywhere can do to bring about a change in attitudes in the country and strengthen the church there.
“It’s good for the international church to pray for persecuted believers. Prayer for them is very necessary because they are under a lot of strain. Intercede for them - and intervene for them where necessary,” he says.
But just as important is the opportunity for Christians elsewhere to learn about what’s happening within the global body of Christ.
“The Christians in the free world really do not understand. There needs to be education about what is happening to Christians in countries where they are not able to enjoy religious freedom,” he said.
“If more people were aware of the treatment they are receiving then that would minimise the propaganda against them.”
If you are in a country that respects your freedoms then there are some other practical things you can do to support persecuted members of the church. You could contact your government to inform them about the reality of persecution or you could even write directly to the governments of countries where religious freedom is denied.
For more information about how you and your church can participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, visit www.idop.org