By Shawn McMullen
Next Sunday, November 11, has been set aside as an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Christians across the country and around the world will join together on that day to seek God’s blessing and protection on our brothers and sisters in Christ who face persecution and suffering because of their faith.
Many churches plan special prayer services on that day and encourage their members to prepare by spending the week prior to the service in prayer for the persecuted church. In taking these simple steps, they’re following the biblical directive, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
For nearly 45 years The Voice of the Martyrs has been calling attention to—and assisting—Christians around the world who suffer for their faith.
Recently, VOM reported that Iranian officials have shut down one of the last four remaining Farsi-speaking Christian churches in Tehran, ordering the congregation to cease all religious activities and threatening to confiscate their property if they failed to comply. Originally, the congregation had received permission from the government to operate, but as the church began to grow, the Iranian government grew concerned and chose to shut it down.
In another report, Christian workers in Kyrgyzstan were brutally attacked by a Muslim mosque leader and his followers as they attempted to distribute humanitarian aid to a village. The team came to the village at the invitation of the school principal and several village leaders. During the assault, the men were pinned to the ground, pummeled with rocks, and choked by the angry mob. After the Christian workers fled, the mob collected the gifts and burned them in the schoolyard in front of the students and school staff.
International Christian Concern has been providing assistance, awareness, and advocacy on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide since 1995. ICC serves as a bridge between persecuted Christians and believers in free countries who want to help them.
A blog on the ICC website describes how the Evangelical Victory Church of Game-Loitiki, a village in Kenya, East Africa, was attacked and looted by an armed mob. The attackers forced their way into the compound and began tearing down the church building by hand. Church members ran to the police, but the police refused to intervene. The minister of the church, however, was not intimidated. He said, “We will not move away from Game-Loitiki, but will trust God for his sustenance and protection”
ICC also reports religious persecution in North Korea, where members of underground Christian churches have been arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith, and in Russia, where the Kremlin has imposed laws on religious extremism. The government defines religious extremism as the promotion of the “exclusivity, superiority, or inferiority of citizens” based on religion. Russian authorities regard religious groups that seek converts as a threat to the nation’s religious and cultural identity.
Will you pray for the persecuted church this week? And will you join Christians around the world next Sunday as we lift up our voices to God in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer for their faith?