Organized by International Christian Concern, International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted (IDOP) is either the 3rd or 10th of November this year. According to ICC, “Although IDOP is most commonly celebrated on the first Sunday of November, some organizations and churches celebrate on the second Sunday.” This means that we can choose to participate in IDOP on whichever day is best for us, or on both days.
As believers, “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:5). As such, we must all remember those who suffer as if we were suffering alongside them.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. (Hebrews 13:3)
Persecution by the Numbers
These Open Doors statistics on Christian persecution were compiled towards the end of 2018 and included in their 2019 report.
- The rise in the number of Christians in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List who experience high levels of persecution has increased by roughly 14%.
- 1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.
- 4,136 Christians were killed in 2018 for faith-related reasons. On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day.
- 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.
- 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned.
Countries to Pray For on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted 2019
International Christian Concern have chosen eight countries for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted 2019.
China: 2.7% Christian; World Watch List Position #27
With President Xi Jinping’s “Sinicization” campaign, Chinese churches, regardless of their status as state-vetted or underground, have been facing an unprecedented crackdown. Churches have had their crosses removed, Bibles confiscated, and members harassed. Many churches have even been demolished or forced to shut down. On December 9, 2018, hundreds of Early Rain Covenant Church members were detained after the police raided their church. While most were released, the lead pastor, Wang Yi, and a few other members are still incarcerated.
Pray for Christians to have the strength to endure increasing persecution, while having discernment and wisdom to preserve their faith. Pray for the unraveling of President Xi’s recent crackdown on Christianity.
India: 2.3% Christian; World Watch List Position #10
“For the first time in 45 years, I feel like I don’t have the right to live as a Christian in my own country,” Pastor Sheeja Thomas, a house church leader in India, explained. This is a fear felt by many Indian Christians as escalating levels of persecution, perpetrated by radical Hindu nationalists, continue to be reported on a daily basis from across the country. The situation has only escalated since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected in May.
Pray for the Church in India to receive supernatural protection from radical Hindu nationalists as the Gospel continues to spread in India.
Iraq: 1-2% Christian; World Watch List Position #13
ISIS devastated Iraq’s Christian community, causing enormous challenges for those rebuilding their lives. Paulis is the father of five, and he was unable to keep his children in school unless his farm was restored. Every day, he bicycled through his destroyed town and pedaled bricks back to his farm. Over several months, this elderly man slowly rebuilt the farm’s structures. His story is a testament to the massive amount of work that Iraqi Christians must do in order to rebuild their lives after genocide.
Pray that Iraq’s Christians may have strength, courage, and patience as they rebuild. Pray that they may continue as faithful witnesses of Christ in their homeland.
Kenya: 85% Christian; World Watch List Position #40
In August of 2018, Ruth Obila lost her husband Joshua while he was riding on a passenger bus that al-Shabaab ambushed. The militants forced the passengers to get o the bus and told them to repeat the shahada, the Islamic prayer. Her husband, Joshua, and another Christian, Frederick refused because of their faith. Both were martyred for Christ. Al-Shabaab continues to threaten and execute Christians in Kenya. As one of the top three terrorist groups in the world, they are a real threat for many Christians today.
Pray for Christians in Kenya to be able to work and live peacefully outside of al-Shabaab’s control. Pray for the Lord to prevent al-Shabaab from taking more lives.
Nigeria: 50% Christian; World Watch List Position: #12
Nigerian Christians continue to face an onslaught of violence from Islamic extremist groups, a situation that is made worse by the lack of protection from the government. However, in the midst of suffering, there is a story of hope and strength. After being kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2015, Saratu managed to escape captivity and lead 20 other women to safety. In August 2017, she lost her husband during a Boko Haram raid. However, even that tragedy did not cause her to lose hope. She is currently learning how to run a business at a small refugee center so that she can better care for her family.
Pray for Christians in Nigeria to find peace amidst the ashes of their homes and families. Pray that they would have faith in God and strength to persevere even in the face of great adversity.
North Korea: 1-2% Christian; World Watch List Position: #1
For the last 18 years, North Korea has been ranked as the worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors’ World Watch List. Christianity is seen as the state’s enemy; it is viewed as a threat to the stability of Pyongyang. Christians are thrown into prison camps once caught by the authorities. Torture or execution awaits them. One North Korean defector, Illyong Ju, learned about the execution of his cousin’s entire family after they shared the gospel.
Pray for Christians to be able to persevere in this hostile and dangerous environment. Pray for the gospel to thrive in North Korea, defeat the rulers of darkness, and set the people free.
Pakistan: 1.5% Christian; World Watch List Position #5
After nearly a decade on death row, Asia Bibi was finally allowed to leave Pakistan and seek asylum in Canada on May 5. Accused of blasphemy in 2009, Bibi remains the only woman in Pakistan’s history to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. While her release is truly a miracle, Bibi represents only one of the countless Pakistani Christians who have suffered as a result of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the acquittal and release of Asia Bibi. Also pray for support for Pakistani Christians who remain imprisoned as a result of unjust blasphemy laws.
Turkey: 0.2% Christian; World Watch List Position #26
Although Christian activity is forbidden at some universities in Turkey, one Muslim-background Christian couple is not deterred by the risk of jail. Every day, the couple gives students opportunities to ask questions about Christianity and their country’s Christian heritage. Young adults are surprised to learn that Turkey was first Christian, and that God loves them. Even after facing abuse for spreading the Gospel among young adults, the couple remains dedicated to their calling.
Pray that God redeems Turkey’s negative memories of Christianity, unifies the Church, and pours out His Holy Spirit so the Church may grow in number and in faith.
Put on the Whole Armour of God
In these last days, Christian persecution is high and rapidly increasing as the spiritual battle between God and Satan enters the final stage. In the last century, it’s estimated that 200 million Christians were killed for their faith, more than in any other century. We all know where this is leading and, no matter where we live, we will all likely suffer persecution and/or death at the hands of those who think they are doing God service (John 16:2).
As we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, we must also remember, ourselves, to put on the whole armour of God in preparation for that which is soon to come.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:11-18)
May God bless and strengthen us all. And in all things, Praise the Lord!