IDOP: creating a global wave of prayer for persecuted Christians
Churches in the UK and Ireland are helping create a global wave of prayer for persecuted Christians on November 16, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) ...
Churches in the UK and Ireland are helping create a global wave of prayer for persecuted Christians on November 16, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
A report endorsed by The Prince of Wales has concluded that Christians are the "most persecuted religious minority in the world". HRH Prince Charles said it was "an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East."
Recent fact-finding trips to the Middle East by Release International have highlighted a growing exodus of Christians from the lands where the Christian faith first took root after Pentecost – often in the face of persecution.
As Christianity has spread, so has persecution: but not only under Islam. Christians are persecuted under Communism, Authoritarianism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
- An estimated 30,000 Christians are detained inside North Korea‘s brutal prison and concentration camps
- More than 1,000 Christians, including church leaders, remain imprisoned without trial in Eritrea
- An estimated 200 Christians are currently imprisoned in Vietnam
- Christians come under increasing attack by Hindu Nationalists in India
- The authorities in Iran have cracked down on the growing number of house churches, currently detaining more than 50 Christians
"Add to that, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and many more. Increasing numbers of Christians face violence, imprisonment and death as global instability and uncertainty increase," says Paul Robinson, the Chief Executive of Release International, which serves persecuted Christians around the world. "But at Release we know that prayers, coupled with actions, create change.
"For IDOP this year we focus especially on believers who have been imprisoned because of their Christian faith, and their families, who suffer separation from their loved ones. These are our brothers and sisters on the frontlines of faith, who have suffered great loss – and who need our support.
"IDOP is a time set apart for Christians around the world to remember our brothers and sisters worldwide who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Please do take part in this year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and stand together as one."
Release has produced the following resources to help churches plan their times of prayer:
- A free IDOP guide, including background information on Prisoners of Faith, Bible teaching, suggestions for prayer and youth activity
- A free PowerPoint presentation, including a persecution map of the world, a briefing on five Christian prisoners, and a Prayer for Prisoners
- Release has also produced a 10-minute DVD Scattered, which includes brief testimonies of Christian former prisoners in Iran, with specific prayer points.
All are available from releaseinternational.org
Meanwhile Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the launch on 8 November 2014 of an international coalition of parliamentarians committed to combating religious persecution and protecting the right to freedom of religion of belief worldwide.
The International Coalition of Parliamentarians Committed to Religious Freedom was initiated by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, who leads the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the UK parliament, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Parliamentarians from a diverse array of countries including Brazil, Burma, Canada, Germany, Nepal, Norway, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uruguay attended the launch, as did the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr Heiner Bielefeldt. Attendees signed the Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief, which laid out the core commitments of the group; namely, the full application of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion or belief.
Parliamentarians attended the launch and signed the charter in an individual capacity and not as formal representatives of their respective governments.