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Church Prays for the Persecuted

By Terry Madison
Open Doors USA -- SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) -- This week thousands of churches across America and tens of thousands of Christians are praying for suffering believers as a part of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

This year more Christians were mobilized to pray than ever before. At Open Doors, we had more than 20 percent of an increase in requests for IDOP materials! This demonstrated that Christians in the West, and churches in the West, are deeply concerned about the status of the Persecuted Church.

And they should be. Because of their faith--and their resulting identification with the "Christian" West--Christians living in Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, [Karen Yates] and Philippines have suffered intense backlash from their communities.

In the past year, 39 Christians have been killed and 75 wounded in five anti-Christian assaults targeted against Pakistan's Christian minority. Missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were held in the Philippines by Islamic radicals for over a year, and tragically, Martin never made it home. Thousands of Christians have died in violent riots in northern Nigeria because of the proclamation of shari'a law. At this very moment, Iraqi Christians are gearing up for similar backlash in the face of possible war between the U.S. and Saddam Hussein.

These reports remind us that persecution is a daily reality for over 200 million Christians worldwide. Their suffering doesn't take place only on November 10. Every morning, our brothers and sisters decide to follow Jesus, regardless of the cost. Every morning, they need to be in our prayers.

Imagine our world if American Christians followed Jesus with the same devotion and passion exemplified by the Persecuted Church! With all our freedoms, the challenge is not one of life or death. It is of discipline and faithfulness. On behalf of the Persecuted Church worldwide, I challenge American Christians to discipline themselves to pray daily for those who suffer, and to be faithful to that commitment for the rest of their lives. We are "our brothers' and sisters' keepers," as the Bible states.

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