Remembering the Suffering Church on International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted
By William Stark
11/04/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Every year, on the first Sunday in November, the Church comes together for the International Day of Pray for the Persecuted, commonly known as IDOP.
Religious persecution is broadly defined as the mistreatment of an individual or group based on their faith. The levels of persecution across the world range from acts of vandalism, job discrimination, and forced conversation, to imprisonment, torture, rape, and murder.
Unfortunately, this is an everyday occurrence around the world today. According to Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group, an estimated 255 Christians are killed, 104 are abducted, 180 women are victims of sexual violence as a result of their faith, 66 churches are attacked, and 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned every month.
This Sunday, ICC is remembering those who have suffered this year for the sake of Christ, as they choose to deny themselves rather than the God they serve.
“The levels of persecution across the world range from acts of vandalism, job discrimination, and forced conversation, to imprisonment, torture, rape, and murder.”
Specifically, ICC is remembering and praying for the victims and their families in the four cases below:
- In Nigeria, Leah Sharibu, a 16-year-old school girl was kidnapped by Boko Haram on February 19. Leah is being held hostage, after refusing to deny Christ after being abducted alongside her classmates. The terrorist organization has made multiple threats against her, demanding ransom from the Nigerian government, yet she remains in captivity. It is believed that she is being abused and will be sold into marriage to a Muslim man.
- In Iran, Ibrahim Firouzi is a Christian who converted from Islam. He is currently incarcerated in an Iranian prison. He has faced numerous prosecutions since his conversion. Throughout his time in prison, he has routinely been denied medical care. He is currently suffering from a severe toothache which has affected his ability to eat, causing him to lose a significant amount of weight and suffer a great amount of pain. Despite his eligibility for temporary leave from serving his prison sentence, this has not been granted. He wishes to visit his visually impaired mother who is also suffering from cancer. The severity of her condition has prevented her from visiting her son in prison.
- In Pakistan, continued prayer is needed for Asia Bibi and her family. On October 31, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia of a blasphemy charge that has kept her on death row for almost a decade. Following that decision, fanatics across Pakistan took to the streets demanding that the decision be reversed and Asia be put to death. Pray for Asia’s continued safety, as well as the safety of her family as they seek to leave Pakistan permanently.
- In Vietnam, Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton is the president of a pro-democracy group. He has been in and out of jail for his activism for democracy and human rights multiple times in the last decades. In 2017, he was thrown in prison for 12 years for “activities aiming to overthrow the people’s administration.” Pastor Nguyen has continually been denied medical treatment despite a leg injury, kidney condition, and inflamed prostate. He has been tortured by prison officials and recently been moved further away from his home, making it challenging for his wife to visit him. His health is failing and his family is growing worried.
While we will never be able to end persecution, it is important to remember those suffering for their faith in prayer. Would you come alongside us today in prayer for these four victims in the midst of persecution on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted?
For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org