Christians worldwide will pray for the persecuted church on Sunday with special emphasis this year on Christians in India and Iraq.
As part of the annual International Day of Prayer, the hundreds of thousands of Christians expected to participate will pray for God to give strength and protect believers in nations hostile to the Gospel.
India and Iraq, which have been making headlines around the world for the mass persecution of Christians, are among the most urgent prayer topics this year.
In India, over 50,000 Christians have been made homeless by the violence in the eastern state of Orissa with some 30,000 living in refugee centers. The anti-Christian violence – the worst in the country's 60 year history – has been raging since August and shows no signs of stopping. According to the All India Christian Council, more than 4,500 Christian homes have been burnt, 140 churches destroyed, and 13 Christian schools and colleges damaged over the past few months.
Meanwhile in Iraq, more than 13,000 Christians were displaced in the northern city of Mosul within two weeks in the month of October. The massive exodus in a country where Christians make up only two percent of the population was sparked by a series of murders and death threats by unknown Muslim militants.
Other IDOP-recommended countries of prayer include the Philippines, where Muslim militants angry over a failed government deal to hand over control of a state have attacked Christians in rural areas.
Prayer is also requested for Somalia, where Islamic militants have assassinated some 24 aid workers this year, including a man who was a former Muslim that converted to Christianity. The convert was not just killed, but beheaded in public to strike fear so that people would not leave Islam.
Christians have also been asked to pray for Sudan, where a legislative election will be held by July 2009, when the mainly Christian and animist South could vote to secede from the Islamist military regime in the North.
"Please pray [that] Christians who have been imprisoned for their faith will be release safely," a Voice of the Martyr IDOP newsletter read. "[And that] new converts may be protected and provided for should their family turn against them."