FORT ERIE, Ont. (INS)—“Pray for us” is the cry of persecuted Christians around the world. Today across the earth more than 200 million of them are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Each year, Christians in more than 130 countries stand in prayer with our persecuted sisters and brothers through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Join with Christians across Canada as we unite in prayer for our brothers and sisters who suffer because they declare their faith in Christ. IDOP Canada 2018 will take place on Sunday, November 4—with the focus countries of Nigeria and Pakistan.
Thriving in Persecution is the theme for this year's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The theme verse is 2 Corinthians 12:10, which states, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (NIV).
Earlier in that passage, the Apostle Paul writes: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”’ (2 Cor. 12:9).
For every Christian, regardless of our circumstances, hope is found in the promise that one day we shall see Christ face-to-face. Knowing that death will not be the final word gives us great hope. Ultimately, we shall see suffering replaced with rejoicing, and receive our greatest reward when Christ ushers us into eternal life with Him and says, “Welcome home, my faithful servant.” For many of our persecuted brothers and sisters who are imprisoned or who constantly live under the threat of death this is their hope.
The world does not understand suffering the way a Christian believer does. “How can you rejoice?” they ask when faced with difficulty, hardship and persecution. We know that it is through our suffering that Christ promises to create in us His likeness—His traits of endurance, character and hope through the work of the Holy Spirit. Hearts honed and refined in the fire of suffering are deeply imprinted with His likeness, and understand how suffering is used in our development.
Sometimes as Christians we may feel that the world is against us. Certainly many people in the world oppose the Church. As Christians, we can expect some persecution because of what we believe. Jesus explained clearly in His teachings about that: “‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-31 NIV).
Persecution for our faith can separate us from friends and family. In some countries, Christian leaders are thrown into prison simply because of practicing their faith. They are separated from their families—who sometimes do not even know where their loved one is being imprisoned. Families are left to support themselves while the breadwinner is confined to a prison cell.
Yet in the midst of such suffering, God gives comfort to these families. They can pray for each other’s protection, safety and provision. God hears those prayers. Despite their hardship, these believers are cared for by the Lord.
Here in Canada, Christians may not suffer as much as our fellow believers in other nations. We sometimes face opposition because of our beliefs, but are usually not jailed because of them. But we need to remember to intercede for our persecuted brothers and sisters.
Each year, Intercede International and other Canadian Christian agencies---Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, and International Christian Response—work together to create a collection of resources that help Canadian Christians and churches to remember their persecuted sisters and brothers around the world, and to pray for them. IDOP Canada 2018 will take place on Sunday, November 4. If you are unable to participate in IDOP Sunday on this date, we encourage you to set aside time on another day to remember our persecuted brothers and sisters. The important thing is to pray. The IDOP Canada team annually creates free downloadable resources. Be sure to register to access those resources at: www.idop.ca. Thank you for your prayers and concern for the Persecuted Church.