Originally published in The Christian Post
WATCH: ‘Hannelie’, testimony of South African missionary, produced by Voice of the Martyrs for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
As Christians from around the world are facing persecution in unprecedented numbers, churches and Christian organisations will hold special prayers for the protection of Christians in persecuted countries on Sunday to mark the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) 2016.
“At no other time in history have Christians been as persecuted as they are now,” says Dr Vernon Brewer, president and founder of the Christian humanitarian organisation World Help, in a statement. “Some estimate more Christians have been martyred for their faith in the past century than in the previous 19 combined, and persecution in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia seems to be on the rise.”
“From merciless killing, destruction of churches and buildings, to being forced to denounce Jesus as their Lord, Christians are being stripped of the ability to follow Christ in safety and freedom,” says Open Doors USA on its website, urging Christians to join them in praying for the persecuted church on Sunday.
Commenting on what awaits incoming US president Donald Trump, he says he “will face the greatest refugee crisis we have seen since World War II, the threat of global terrorism, and sweeping persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians, in nations like Iraq, the place where Christianity was born. Therefore, we also pray this may be a time when we, as a nation, return to our Christian roots— both in policy and practice — and stand for all who are oppressed and in need. May we continue to be a source of hope and a blessing for the world.”
Persecution of Christians is getting worse as up to 75% of the world’s population now lives without religious freedom, European Union’s special envoy Jan Figel said last month. “Therefore, those who believe that humanity should prevail can, and should do, much more for freedom of religion,” Figel told Premier Christian Radio. “We are witnesses of a systematic and mass murder, martyrdom and persecution on several territories.”
The Voice of the Martyrs has made a video for the IDOP 2016, featuring the testimony of Hannelie, who along with her family left their home in South Africa to serve on the frontlines in Afghanistan. The group has made the video available for free download.
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the IDOP. Resources to facilitate effective prayer for the persecuted are available on the IDOP website at http://idop.org/web/resources/ and on the website http://www.idop-africa.org/.