“If I would go to Iraq today bringing 350 000 visas to go abroad – one for every Christian in Iraq – 300 000 of them would take them. I have seen many Christians fleeing to northern Iraq and from there they try to go abroad. But to go abroad you need money, a visa and the right connections. Not everyone has that.” These words from a veteran field worker in the Middle East reflect the deteriorating conditions for believers in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Egypt.
Due to intentional and systematic persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, the number of believers living in those countries makes up only 4 per cent of the inhabitants, compared with 20 per cent a century ago, says Open Doors in a Press release. The area is now 93 per cent Muslim. Christianity in the Middle East is near extinction. But there is a powerful way Christians in the West can show their support for the millions of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world – prayer. Millions of Christians will be gathering in churches, small groups and homes this Sunday for the start of the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). IDOP began in 1996 and today is one of the largest prayer events in the world.
The top 10 persecutors of Christians on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List include North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea.
To download Open Doors SA IDOP materials, go to www.OpenDoors.org.za. To order by telephone, call 011 888 9341.