This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church or IDOP. I have always tried to make this Sunday an emphasis at the churches that I pastor. At churches where I have been the lead/solo pastor, I have usually preached a sermon to make our congregation aware of our brothers and sisters around the world, who are suffering for Jesus Christ. I think it is appropriate that IDOP occurs near All Saints Day. Not only do we remember those who are part of that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11 and 12,) but we remember all of God saints (living and dead) who have died because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
What is Christian Persecution?
Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.
According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
This Sunday at McCrae Brook we will be learning more about our brothers and sisters who lay it on the line – just to be a believer in Jesus Christ. As part of the service we will be praying for them as well. I encourage you to check out the resources list below that comes from the Church of the Nazarene.
These websites contain lots of information, ideas and resources. Some of the resources are free.
Open Doors — www.opendoorsusa.org
Critical Prayer Requests (CPR) — www.criticalprayerrequests.blogspot.com
One With Them — www.onewiththem.com
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church — www.idop.org
Bible League — www.bibleleague.org
WorldWatch Monitor — www.worldwatchmonitor.org
International Christian Concern — www.persecution.org
Jubilee Campaign — www.jubileecampaign.org
The Voice of the Martyrs — www.persecution.com and www.persecutionblog.com