* The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church *
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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin – No. 352 – Tue 08 Nov 2005

IDOP 2005

Over recent years, Christians in the West have become much more
aware of the severe, often violent nature of persecution and
religious liberty abuse in the non-West. Also, believers around
the world are discovering they are not alone in their suffering:
churches in Egypt are more aware of persecution in China;
churches in Vietnam are more aware of persecution in Pakistan;
and churches in Sri Lanka are more aware of persecution in
Uzbekistan. The numbers of churches and individuals involved in
praying for the persecuted Church and for religious liberty has
been growing exponentially. The bond of unity in brotherly love
resulting from these prayers is humbling, powerful and God-

Those of us who have been praying over the years have seen wars
stilled, elections blessed, the schemes of the wicked exposed and
frustrated, suffering believers and persecuted churches preserved,
uplifted and empowered. And God has done much more in answer to
prayer than we will ever know this side of heaven. He has supplied
needs, healed wounds, strengthened the weak, redirected hearts,
punished evildoers, prevented disaster, and sent angels to
surround the vulnerable and lift up the down-trodden. He has
poured out mercy and grace in times of need in answer to the
prayers of many. Let us praise his holy name and bow in reverence
and gratitude before him!

But we are not in heaven yet! Billions of people continue in
spiritual slavery and millions of Christians still suffer
systematic discrimination, persecution and oppression. Persecuted
Christians are not superhuman – they are vulnerable men, women
and children like you and me. Jesus is being persecuted (Acts 9:5)!
In all our affliction, God is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9)! As
Christians we must ‘stand with God in his hour of grieving’
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer). We must cling to him (Genesis 32:26) and
pray for peace until the world is at peace; pray for justice
until justice reigns; pray ‘…hallowed be your name. Your
kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’
(Matthew 6:9,10 ESV), until the promises of God are all fulfilled
and the earth is ‘filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14 ESV).

So let us come with confidence to our Great High Priest, Jesus
Christ the Son of God. He is holy and almighty, supreme over all
creation, visible and invisible, and yet he sympathises with our
weakness and is ready, willing and able to pour out mercy and
grace to those in need. Please see the Critical Prayer Requests
(CPR) for Strategic Nations on the website. Here are
some further updates, along with an issue for ‘special focus’.


* CUBA – For the nation: that God will redirect the heart of
President Fidel Castro (Proverbs 21:1) so that there may be a
return to the more liberal policies of the 1990s that enabled house-
churches to proliferate at an extraordinary rate. ‘Cuba para
Cristo!’ (‘Cuba for Christ!’). For the Church: for comfort,
courage, solidarity and grace in the face of harsh new

* GUINEA – For the nation: that the authorities will have wisdom
and strength to continue to uphold religious liberty and the
security of Christians in the face of rising Muslim intolerance and
growing ethnic-religious tensions, in particular in the southeast
Forest Region.

* UZBEKISTAN – For the nation: that God will redirect the heart of
President Islam Karimov to pursue the political and economic
reforms needed to ease social tensions, as well as restore and
protect liberty. For the Church: that God will protect, preserve
and bless the Church, which is persecuted by the government and by
Muslims. May the Church be a source of light and comfort to the
poor and repressed, and leaven to a troubled nation.


Today, more than 50 years after the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights declared religious liberty to be a fundamental human right,
there are multitudes of Christians in forced-labour camps and
prisons. In Eritrea there are now 1778 Christian prisoners
incarcerated on account of their faith, including 26 full-time
pastors. It is estimated that some 100,000 Christians are
struggling to survive the daily horrors of the North Korean gulags.
Throughout Communist Asia pastors and evangelists are most likely
to be imprisoned on trumped-up security, economic and criminal –
not religious – charges, whilst in the Muslim world they are more
likely to be charged with religious offences such as blasphemy,
apostasy or proselytism, or be murdered.

The world’s imprisoned Christians must endure the most unhygienic,
unsanitary conditions, with appalling cruelty and suffering that
usually includes beatings and torture. It may also include
starvation and threats of violence to family members. Those
imprisoned for their Christian faith are pastors and lay pastors,
evangelists, new believers, men, women, youths, the elderly, sole
bread-winners, mothers, or the only pastor or trained Bible teacher
for hundreds of miles. Not only do the prisoners suffer, but so too
do their families, congregations and communities.

* WE PRAY especially for Christians imprisoned for their faith: may
their faith be preserved, their spirits uplifted, their souls
restored, their strength renewed, their wounds healed, their hope
encouraged, their fear dissolved, and their witness blessed. May
the eternal, ever-present Holy Spirit, the counsellor who lives
within them, lead them into all truth and remind them of God’s
word – that *he* walks with them (Psalm 23:4) and they can
*never* be separated from his love (Romans 8:31-39). May the
sovereign Lord of heaven intervene on their behalf (Isaiah 59:
15b-19). May ‘justice roll down like waters, and righteousness
like an ever-flowing stream.’ (Amos 5:24 ESV). For the praise
and glory of God. Amen.

‘For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints’
(Psalm 37:28a ESV).

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al Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.