Churches and groups all over the world celebrated the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday.
This year, churches are praying under the theme of “Persecuted but not abandoned.” In 2018, some 100,000 congregations took part in the IDOP, according to the Christian Post.
“This November let us unite in prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters,” said the IDOP organizers in a video posted to Vimeo earlier this month.
According to Open Doors USA, more than 245 million Christians are persecuted around the world. Persecution includes beatings, physical torture, confinement, rape, punishment, slavery and discrimination, the group said.
“These 245 million people are not just numbers; they are men, women and children, moms, dads, sons and daughters who all have names and share in common the fact they are being arrested, tortured, imprisoned and even killed for one reason – they follow Jesus,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
In an opinion column for Fox News, Perkins wrote that prayer for the persecuted has a long biblical history. He pointed to Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also.”
Perkins also referred to Paul’s life, saying “the hunter became the hunted.”
“Before his conversion to Christ, Paul dedicated his life to tracking down and imprisoning men and women who were followers of the Way. After his Damascus Road experience, the hunter became the hunted, putting his own life on the line many times until he died in Rome.
“He was beaten with rods at least three times, stoned (with actual stones) once, and imprisoned three times simply because he identified with Jesus Christ and proclaimed the gospel,” Perkins said.
Today, that persecution is happening in places such as Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Algeria.
“Too many to count, too many unknown,” the video said. “All because they bear the name of Jesus.”
The World Evangelical Alliance event will have another day of prayer Sunday, Nov. 10.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Vadimguzhva