Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as
if you yourselves were suffering. Heb. 13:3

THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER 
 FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
  --NOVEMBER 4, 2001

Less than two months ago, our nation was shocked by an attack on our way of life that has forever changed the way we view the world. In the terrorist attacks of September 11th, we witnessed hatred and evil that was perpetrated against our nation and the freedom we have far too long taken for granted. As Americans, we have been sheltered from the persecution and human rights abuses that an estimated 400 million Christians face in areas of the world that deny the basic right to choose and practice freedom of religion. The terror that came to our country is a daily threat to millions around the world who share our faith but not our freedom.

Christians in Pakistan, Indonesia, and other countries are reporting threats of retaliation if the United States responds against terrorists and those representing their radical ideology. Although Christians and Muslims have interacted peacefully in Pakistan, there has been rising tension since the September 11 terrorist attacks. When asked if he felt extremists in Pakistan might attack Christians, one pastor explained: “If they attack, we'll be among the first martyrs. But we will not run anywhere.”

Over the past few weeks, U.S. citizens have been well informed about radical Islamic cells scattered throughout the world. Perhaps less well known are the scattered small cells of light in these same regions – Christians following Christ despite continuous threats of discrimination, imprisonment, and even murder. These threats have taken on a more intimidating tone in past weeks.

Appropriate attention has recently focused on those countries suffering under Islamic oppression. But, we should not forget, but continue to remember, those precious brothers and sisters suffering under Communism, as close as Cuba, and also in countries like China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos, as well as countries of the old U.S.S.R., like Turkmenistan.

The current situation underscores our need to engage in timely intercessory prayer for our Christian family around the world. On November 4, 2001, over 100,000 U.S. churches are expected to join with thousands of churches in 130 countries to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Before the first IDOP in 1996, most Christians in the United States and other free countries were unaware of the magnitude of Christian persecution. It is estimated that over 200 million Christians today face persecution (physical abuse, family separation, incarceration, and martyrdom) and nearly 400 million more face discrimination and restriction as a result of their Christian faith. It is further estimated that a Christian dies somewhere in the world every three minutes for his/her faith, which equates to over 175,000 a year, a number approximating the population of Fort Wayne.

You may wonder how intercession can be offered up to our Heavenly Father in such an overwhelming situation. The following are suggested subjects for prayer.

·       Individuals who are undergoing persecution, that the presence of the Holy Spirit will sustain them, and that they will not deny their Lord.  These are some thoughts from Scripture to help you as you pray.

·     That believers will stand firm in their faith. (1Peter 5:8-10)

·     That they will not be fearful but trust God. (Rev. 2:10)

·     That they will not seek to retaliate, but entrust themselves to Him who judges justly. (Peter 2:23)

·     That they will not repay evil for evil but will seek to live at peace with everyone. (Rom. 12:17-18)

·     That they will not take revenge, but leave that completely with God. (Rom. 12:17-21)

·     That they will be enabled to rejoice, even in suffering. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

·     That they will forgive those who persecute them. (Luke 23:34, Col 3:13)

·     That they will be able to actually love their enemies. (Matt. 5:43-44)

·     That they will bless those who have persecuted them. (Rom. 12:14,21)

·     That they will persevere under tribulation. (Heb. 10:32-39)

·     That they will trust God to enable them to proclaim the Gospel even while suffering. (2 Tim. 4:16-18)

·     That they will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere, and not grow weary or lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3)

·     That they will rely on the Lord's strength and not on their own. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

·     The families of these individuals, who also suffer from lack of protection and provision, as well as direct attack.

·     Those who are enemies of the cross, that the witness of the faithful may lead them to a knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved

·          The advancement of the Gospel, through faithful preaching and the dissemination of Bibles and Christian literature, that many will be won to Christ, even in the face of anticipated retaliation from the enemy.

·          President George W. Bush, that he will stand for God’s righteousness and justice, and that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide and direct him in this most tenuous hour of our country’s history.

·      The leaders of other world powers, especially those who openly oppose the gospel, that they may feel God’s power and His presence, and that they will be caused to show deference to the Body of Christ, to His Name’s honor and glory.

·      The Body of Christ in  the United States, that she may be convicted of the need for repentance, a desire for holy living, and a closer walk with her Heavenly Father.

·      The citizenry of the United States, that it may not respond with just patriotism, but with a desire to know God Himself.

Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” This Scriptural command calls for a significant level of spiritual empathy that can only be achieved by sustained prayer and an identification with these precious saints on a daily basis. God bless you as you minister in their behalf.

©2001 Dave Brackemyre  - used with permission

   

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