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Why Pray for the Persecuted Church?
Persecuted Christians have made one primary request of other Christians. “Please pray for us.”

This past Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Some prayed. Of those, some are content that they have done their part for persecuted Christians for this year and have moved on to the next issue. Some didn’t pray, either because they were unaware it was IDOP Sunday or there were other things on their calendar – particularly given that this year IDOP fell on Remembrance Day – or because they don’t understand the concept of persecution or why prayer for the persecuted church would be on our agenda. Why pray for the persecuted church?

Persecution of the Church has also taken on global expression – and Canada is not immune.

First, Christian theology (and experience) explicitly identifies the benefits and power of prayer. God hears, and answers, the prayers of His people. Thus, we are encouraged to pray.

Second, persecuted Christians around the world have made contact with ministries that are deeply concerned about their plight and persecuted Christians have made one primary request of other Christians. “Please pray for us.” They understand the power of prayer and recognize that distance and political regimes are incapable of preventing prayer from being effective.

Third, the theme of this year’s IDOP accurately expressed the biblical truth “We are one.” The apostle Paul reminds us through his letters to the church in four different localities that “in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17, 12:13; Ephesians 4:4, 25; Colossians 3:15). Sometimes our greatest challenge is to focus on what we have in common rather than the theological differences that have the potential to divide His Body. When one part of the Body is suffering, the other parts should be aware of the pain. Reflection on that truth, if only for a day, can impact our world through the power of prayer.

Finally, the world has become a smaller place. Talk of the global economy has replaced concern for the neighbourhood grocery store and local restaurant. Travel to another continent takes the same amount of time as it used to take to travel from the city to the countryside. Letters arrive in seconds via email instead of days or weeks by what is now affectionately referred to as “snail mail.”

Today, people of many faiths experience religious persecution, but Christians are by far the most broadly targeted religious group in the world. What happens in other countries is now having repercussions in Canada, particularly as news travels by cell phone, internet, cable TV and 24 hour news stations. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, more than 200 million people around the world are denied basic human rights because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Canadians are no exception. Evangelical voices are being criticized, maligned and silenced in Canada as a vocal minority of Canadians press for removal of all Christian witness and character from public expression in our country.

If you missed IDOP Sunday, it’s not too late to pray for the persecuted. To find out more about how to pray with purpose and awareness of specific current needs you may find assistance through the following websites of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and its affiliates who have engaged in developing and promoting IDOP in Canada:

Let me disclose a bias. I don’t just pray for the persecuted church, I pray for those of any faith whose religious freedoms are being unjustly restricted. What happens to them could one day arrive in my neighbourhood … or yours.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
                    - Pastor Martin Niemöller

Don Hutchinson is General Legal Counsel for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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