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 2017 will take place on Sunday, November 12—with the focus countries of Iraq and India.
“If God Is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?” is the theme for this year's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The theme verses are Romans 8:31 and 32, which read: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
This passage goes on to say: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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).
It is difficult for Canadians to imagine the day-to-day sufferings of those who live in countries where religious freedom is ignored by their governments or neighbours. Imagine facing threats of false accusation and imprisonment, injury and harm to you or your family, attacks on businesses and homes, and even threats of death—all because of your faith in Christ.
How do our brothers and sisters cope with such conditions? How can their faith remain strong when it costs them so much? God alone empowers them to do so. We are humbled and encouraged as we witness their courage and obedience.
Persecution for our faith can separate us from friends and families. 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 enjoy lives of relative comfort. 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 recommends that churches mark this day on the second Sunday of November, but churches can mark this important date at any time. The important thing is to pray. The IDOP Canada team annually creates free downloadable resources, which are posted at www.IDOP.ca.
Thank you for your prayers and concern for the Persecuted Church.
Photo: Iraqi refugees share a meal provided by Intercede partner mission Manara Outreach Ministries.