By Shawn McMullen
Today has been designated International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Churches who take time today to pray for their suffering brothers and sisters around the world will be joined in prayer by more than half a million churches in 150 countries, seeking God’s blessings and protection on those who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
All across the globe today Christians are facing starvation, brutality, imprisonment, and even death. Consider these recent reports from Voice of the Martyrs.
Eritrea. A decade ago the government of Eritrea (a tiny nation in the Horn of Africa) banned all Christian groups that do not belong to officially recognized churches. Since then the Eritrean government has imprisoned several thousand Christians, making the country one of the harshest persecutors of Christians in the world. Many Christians imprisoned since 2002 remain in detention and have never gone before a court. At least 16 Eritrean Christians have died in custody during this period, mostly due to torture, treatable illnesses, and malnutrition.
China. Recently a house church minister was charged with “illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings” and sentenced to two years in a labor camp. The charges stem from the fact that his house church network of several thousand meets in different sites around the city.
Indonesia. A church in Bogor that has been attacked six times since 2008 was recently ordered to stop all religious activities or risk inviting “the community and others to react in a way that could spark a potential disturbance.”
Kazakhstan. Two ministers were recently charged with “endangering others” by praying for the sick in their churches and subsequently fined by the government. One of the church leaders faces a fine that could amount to 200 times the minimum monthly wage, up to 200 hours of community service, or two years’ imprisonment.
India. Hindu extremists continue to target Christians with harassment, false accusations, beatings, and even murder. The Global Council of Indian Christians believes Hindu extremists are behind two recent murders of Christians in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Hindu extremists in the state of Maharashtra also stopped construction of a church building and imposed a boycott on Christians in the area. The extremists ordered the Christians to leave the village and said they would not allow Christian children to attend the local school.
Turkey. Four years after the brutal murders of three Christians at a publishing house in Malatya, attitudes toward Christians in Turkey have become even less favorable. According to the Turkish Association of Protestant Christians, believers in Turkey suffer discrimination, slander, personal attacks, and destruction of church property on a daily basis.
I hope you’ll take time today—and every day—to pray for those around the world who suffer for their faith. The apostle Paul reminds us we’re all part of the same body and that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).