Four years ago some of us started a weekly prayer meeting to pray specifically for the persecuted Church and the world.
In addition to our time of evening prayer, some of us make it a day for fasting–as we are able. Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers: “when you fast,” not if you fast.
We keep up-to-date by checking with organizations that post prayer needs. They monitor worldwide persecution and reach out to those who are suffering in restricted countries. Some of the more well-known are Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, 8thirty8, ChinaAid and Samaritan’s Purse.
The following is Opens Doors’ current Watch List of the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian. Beginning with the most severe: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, India, Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Mali, Mauritania, Turkey, China, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Brunei, Tunisia, Qatar, Mexico, Kenya, Russia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Bangladesh, Palestinian Territories, Azerbaijan.
The number of people killed for practicing the Christian religion has reached 4305 during 2018, 40% more than the previous year, according to Open Doors.
The data revealed by Open Doors leaves no doubts: the religious persecution of Christians is increasing. According to its annual report, more than 245 million Christians were victims of serious persecution (40 million more than in 2018), a situation observed in 73 countries (the previous year was 58), out of a total of 150 countries analyzed.
By far the largest number of deaths occurred in Nigeria. From February through mid-March, as many as 280 people in Christian communities in northern and middle Nigeria were killed in attacks. Islamic Hausa-Fulani militants and Boko Haram continue to attack Christians in the country — in 2018, there were thousands killed.
Prayer is not easy, but we are commanded to pray. Prayer takes discipline. I find that praying with others keeps me focused and faithful. Many Christians are uncomfortable praying aloud, but I encourage them to come and silently agree with our spoken prayers. God knows our every thought and hears our silent prayers.
- Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
- But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18
- If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
- SONG: HUG THEM – Lyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen
[This life is temporary. This life is short. When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever. Where will the “real you” live? Will you live for all eternity separated from God? Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven? Learn more so you can make your most important decision: http://www.godlife.com/gospel/ and http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity
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