You Can Pray For The Persecuted Church3 min read
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. In case you don’t know, persecution is still a daily reality for a lot of Christians even in the modern age.
“According to statistics, persecution is the daily reality of at least 100 million Christians around the world,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director, World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission. “These Christians, who face routine harassment and difficulties, often suffer in silence and isolation”.
The overarching theme that surrounds these Christian is the reality that their faith could mean the loss of their lives. Persecution of Christians is the new normal is countries like North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya. Tom Doyle, Vice President and Middle East-Central Asia Director for e3 Partners, a missionary organisation also active in the Middle East, describes the sort of altar call that prospective Christian converts go through there.
According to him, they are asked these two questions before they are prayed for. The first question is if they are willing to suffer for Jesus because it could happen and possibly from members of their family. The second question is if they are willing to die for Jesus?
Herein lies the good news even in the midst of persecution. Despite these difficult questions, they still come to Christ. According to Tom Doyle, they turn out to be so passionate to serve Christ no matter the cost. Let me share one of their stories.
Azzam is from Somalia and worked with his father who was a warlord pirate robbing ships off the coast of Somalia. His road to salvation starts with him having dreams of Jesus. After many experiences of God reaching out to him, he eventually finds a bible and starts following Jesus.
His father finds out that he has become a Christian and out of fear for his life, his mother helps him escape. As punishment, his father had his mother killed brutally and sent a picture of the killers standing over her before she died to Azzam. As if to further provide more emotional trauma, the picture was accompanied with chopped up remains of his mother.
Some months later, he sees the two men who killed his mother on the street. He walks up to them and says “I know what you did to my mother. I haven’t come to harm you. I’ve come to forgive you.”
He continues “You need to know that I love you and have prayed for both of you ever since I saw your picture with my mother. Jesus filled my heart with compassion for you. You need Him – just like I did. He can forgive murderers. His love is greater than anything you’ve done.”
This became the first of many more meeting of the three and eventually the two became Christians. Azzam leads them to Christ and disciples them. Today, they work with him ministering in the underground church in Somalia.
Azzam is so passionate about his faith; he is now trying to make sure that more people can get access to the bible. He smuggles bibles into Somalia by lying in coffins with dead bodies over him. Despite the risk, he does this with joy and passion.
So as we remember our brothers in the persecuted church, let’s us remind ourselves of the passion that they carry which keeps them joyful and flourishing through it all.
November is the month of prayer for the persecuted church – churches are encouraged to choose either November 6th or 13th to pray for our brothers. You can actually choose any other convenient day. There is loads of material to work with from the International Day of Prayer website – http://idop.org/web/
In case you can’t get your church to join you, you can do it with members of your family. I actually recommend you should include them in your regular prayer list.
They are our brothers and sisters carrying the cross the way God has called them to.