Churches urged to commemorate ‘Persecution Sunday’ on June 12

Open doors calls on churches and Christian organisation to commemorate Persecution Sunday on June 12. Churches with bells are asked to ring them at 9am on the day (PHOTO: Supplied)

The ministry organisation Open Doors S.uthern Africa has launched a special campaign to commemorate Persecution Sunday on June 12.

The campaign aims to get churches and Christian organisations to take hands in creating awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians.

The first Sunday after Pentecost (June 5 this year) is known worldwide as Persecution Sunday. This day highlights the terrible persecution that Christians in many countries endure for their faith – with believers often facing imprisonment, discrimination, rejection, torture and even death.

Many people don’t realise that the persecution of Christians started centuries ago and is still a reality today. The persecution of Christians started shortly after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, when a group of His followers in the early Church gathered in Jerusalem after Pentecost to pray together. After they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they started to spread the Good News of Christ and the persecution of the early Church gained momentum. 

A voice for persecuted believers
Open Doors is a voice for persecuted believers in more than 60 countries. More than 360 million Christians experience high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith – an increase of 20 million since last year. This number represents one out of seven Christians worldwide.

Lynette Leibach, executive director of Open Doors, says the campaign is aimed at getting Persecution Sunday on the agendas of as many churches and Christian organisations as possible.

“We appeal to people to get involved and spread the message of persecution all over the country. We want to get every church in South Africa involved in commemorating Persecution Sunday during their worship services on 12 June,” she says.

Ways to get involved
Individuals, churches and other organisations can get involved and create awareness in their congregations in the following ways:

  • Be a speaker at your church on Persecution Sunday: Anyone can be a voice for persecuted Christians who are unable to speak for themselves by being a volunteer speaker at their own church on 12 June. It’s the ideal opportunity to help spread the message of the persecuted Church.
  • Invite one of Open Doors’ volunteer speakers to your Sunday service: Open Doors’ volunteers will be doing personal presentations at churches all over the country on Sunday morning, June 12. They will share testimonies about the sacrifices that persecuted Christians  make for their faith and how Jesus Christ is faithful and glorified through it.
  • Join Open Doors online: The public, groups and churches can also join Open Doors online for several events right through the day. Online events will be held in English, Afrikaans and Zulu. A special session aimed at children will also be available. All the online events will be available from 9am to 9pm.

Ringing of church bells
Open Doors appeals to Christian churches to ring their church bells at 9am on Sunday June 12 to emphasise the message of persecution. Although many churches don’t ring their bells anymore, it will be wonderful if many church bells can ring at this time in solidarity with persecuted Christians, says Leibach.

People in South Africa don’t realise how privileged they are to still have the freedom to ring their church bells. In many countries, this tradition is forbidden and the sound of church bells have not been heard for many years.

Governments which are hostile towards Christianity, forbid their citizens to have church services that are accompanied by the ringing of bells. This is in line with a tendency to silence churches and to persecute believers. Despite this hostility, many believers are willing to endure persecution for their faith and spreading the Gospel.

Therefore, the echo of church bells in many towns and cities all over the country at the same time will be a wonderful gesture to spread the message of Christians who are persecuted for their faith.

More information
For more information on how to get involved, visit Open Doors’ website at www.opendoors.org.za.
For any questions or to arrange an interview about Persecution Sunday, please contact Elizabeth Botha, Media and Advocacy Officer, at elizabethb@od.org, 083 227 8164 or 011 888 9341.

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