This Sunday (November 13) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. You can learn more about Christians who are persecuted around the world for their belief that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour from Voice of the Martyrs. Evangelicals do a great job remembering their persecuted brothers and sisters; Catholics not so much so. But this isn’t an evangelical thing so all Christians are encouraged to remember and pray for those who suffer for their religious beliefs. It is noteworthy that most persecution takes place in Muslim and former communist countries as this map and list of 10 worst offenders from Open Doors Canada illustrates.
Here’s a press release from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada:
November 10, 2011
Worldwide Initiative to Pray for Christian Victims of Persecution
OTTAWA – The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Canada (IDOP.ca) calls Canadians to join with over half a million churches in 150 countries on Sunday, November 13, 2011 to pray for Christian believers who are suffering, even dying, for their faith.
“Christian persecution is not new,” says Anita Levesque, coordinator for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s (EFC) Religious Liberty Commission, “but what is alarming is that the number of Christians killed in the 20th century, simply because of their faith, was more than the number of Christians killed in the 19 centuries prior.”
Today, around the world over 200 million are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. The number of Christians who have been martyred for their faith in the 21st Century averages over 170,000 each year.
Many Christian victims of persecution say that the prayer of believers in countries where religious freedom actually exists serves to encourage and strengthen them spiritually; and, expression such as IDOP helps to bring global awareness to their plight. While the focus of IDOP is supporting those persecuted, those who participate have said they find spiritual strength and encouragement in the stories of persecuted believers who evidence overcoming courage in the face of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Open Doors, a partner in Canada’s IDOP, compiles an annual list ranking 50 of the top offending countries in the world. North Korea is identified as the most dangerous place to be a Christian, followed by Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. Ranking is based specifically on persecution for faith, not political, economic, social, ethnic or accidental reasons.
“Increasingly, it is becoming impossible to ignore the connection between the countries who are the worst violators of religious freedom and the issues of other human rights violations and matters of global security,” notes Levesque.
Recently the Canadian Government began taking steps to establish the Office of Religious Freedom promised in the last election. “This development has been applauded by many Christian organizations, including the EFC, as an acknowledgement of the importance of monitoring and protecting this fundamental human right which has become the focus of more restrictive and aggressive activity than any other on the planet,” concludes Levesque.
For more information, visit www.idop.ca.