By BosNewsLife News Center
WASHINGTON/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife) -- The countdown began Monday, November 5, for what organizers say will be the largest global prayer event for the estimated 200 million persecuted Christians around the world, including many who abandoned Islam.
Open Doors, an international Christian group supporting persecuted Christians, said it was crucial for believers to participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on Sunday, November 11, at a time of growing religious tensions.
"Because of persecution and suffering that those who convert from Islam to Christianity face daily Open Doors USA as made these hundreds of thousands of "Secret Believers" the focus of this year's IDOP," the group said Monday, November 5.
Over 100,000 American churches, representing nearly every US. denomination, are expected to participate in the IDOP as well as Christians in more than 130 countries, organizers said. The IDOP "is one of the largest prayer events in the world and has heightened awareness of persecuted Christians since its inception in 1996," Open Doors added.
"The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church presents a tremendous opportunity for millions of people to make a difference in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith in countries like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, North Korea and many more," said Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller.
"Persecuted believers have asked us who live in freedom to pray for them - always their number one request. And on November 11 we have the opportunity to collectively lift our petitions to the Lord on their behalf."
Open Doors said prayers were urgently needed for countries such as Iran, where "an - Christians report that persecution has increased markedly and that believers are experiencing greater hardship since the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2005."
Islam is the official religion in Iran, and all laws and regulations must be consistent with the official interpretation of Shariah law, or Muslim law. "Christian prisoners face strong psychological pressures, including threats to kill their family and other Christian believers, in order to force them to recant their Christian faith and return to Islam," Open Doors said.
In addition, Egypt has experienced tensions. "Although Egypt's Christian citizens are free to embrace Islam and obtain legal Muslim identities, Muslim citizens are not allowed to change their religious identity. Those who become Christians are subjected to severe harassment by the State Security Investigation (SSI), which often arrests converts for either insulting Islam or "threatening national security," said Open Doors. Islam is the official state religion of Egypt.
In Asia, China, was seen as a major concern, Open Doors said. House church Christians throughout China fear tough restrictions on their freedom to worship following the launch of a government crackdown ahead of the Olympic Games, local Christians and human rights groups have said. "There are reports of ongoing house church raids and arrests. An unprecedented number of foreign Christians have been expelled from China since the first of the year," Open Doors added.
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