Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Churches Urged To Pray For Christians In Persecuted Countries
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Oct. 30, 2002) - Open Doors with Brother Andrew is calling on churches and Christians around the world to pray for suffering Christians during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 10.
Thousands of congregations have received special kits that provide instructions on how to pray for the top persecuted countries based on Open Doors' World Watch List which was released this summer. Some of the top persecuted countries include:
1. North Korea
New reports underline the deplorable situation of North Korea's Christians. First hand reports and other sources confirm what was earlier suspected - Christians who are put in jail in North Korea are treated in an even more inhumane way than the other prisoners. They are exposed to excessive torture; pregnant Christian women are forced to abort - "people with bad ideology in them should not be allowed to give birth."
2. Saudi Arabia
The Islamic monarchy of Saudi Arabia has no legal protection for freedom of religion. It prohibits the public practice of non-Muslim religions. Islam is the official religion and all citizens are Muslims. Officially, the government recognizes the right of non-Muslim foreigners to worship in private. However, this is not always the case in practice. During the past six months, 14 Christian expatriate prisoners were gradually released and deported.
"All acts of creating division of religion or creating division among the people" are prohibited by the Constitution of Laos. Apparently, the Laotian government applies this provision to forbid all religious practice. Christianity is considered to be associated with their enemy, the U.S., and is suspected of intending to overthrow the Laotian government. Therefore the government highly controls Christian activities and is eager to limit Christian influence among its people. Government officials are visiting towns and villages and holding indoctrination classes for Christians.
The state is the major source of persecution in Vietnam. The reasons are two-fold. First, the Communist Party believes that organized religion may weaken its authority and influence. Second, the state views Christianity as linked with the U.S., and due to the history of war and animosity between the two countries, its attitude continues to be negative towards Christians. Thirty Christian leaders recently received jail sentences ranging from three to 12 years, Compass Direct reported in June. At the beginning of June, another 14 Vietnamese pastors were arrested in the Central Highlands. Others have simply disappeared, and 200 Christians have been arrested this year.
Although the Constitution of Turkmenistan provides for freedom of religion, activities of all religions are tightly controlled and severely restricted. The government has incorporated some aspects of the majority religion, the Islamic tradition, into its effort to redefine a national identity. The Turkmen society is characterized by the personality cult around President Saparmurat Niyazov. The president does not accept the fact that Christians give higher authority to God than to him. Ethnic Turkmen who have converted to Christianity are considered to be a threat to the national identity and have been subjected to official harassment and mistreatment. Eight Christians in Deinau were recently forced to renounce their faith.
Churches around the United States and the world will focus on support of suffering Christians on Nov. 10 during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. IDOP is one of the largest prayer events in the world and has been observed since 1996. A total of 10 Christian agencies - including Open Doors - collaborate to sponsor the event.
"The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church presents an awesome opportunity for millions of people to make a difference in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith in countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia and many more," says Open Doors President Terry Madison. "In my many talks with persecuted Christians around the world, I always ask them what can we in the West do most to support them in their walk with the Lord. And they usually say just coming to meet with them is so supportive. But always No. 1 on the list is prayer. They want us to pray with them and for them. But not just one day a year!"
It is estimated that 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide and another 400 million Christians are living with restrictions on their religious freedom.