SANTA ANA, CA Open Doors and Brother Andrews is requesting all churches around the globe to pray for the countless number of suffering Christians in many nations on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 10. Thousands of congregations have received kits providing instructions on how to pray for the highly persecuted countries listed in the Open Doors World Watch List, which was released this summer. Some of these countries include:
1. North KoreaCurrent reports indicate wretched situations in North Korea. First hand reports and other sources confirm the same imprisoned Christians face greater persecution than rest of the inmates. The reports expose excessive torture and pregnant women are forced to abort it is said, people with bad ideology in them should not be allowed to give birth.
2. Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia is a nation of Islamic monarchy and its official religion is Islam and all citizens are Muslims. There is no legal protection of freedom of religion; in fact, practicing non-Muslim religion is prohibited. The country does however recognize the right of visiting foreigners to practice non-Muslim religions privately. But this hasnt been enforced at all times and during the past six months, 14 Christian expatriate prisoners were released and deported.
3. LaosThe Laotian government prohibits all acts of creating division of religion or creating division among the people. U.S. is viewed as their enemy and Christianity is strongly associated with the nation. The government is eager to undermine any Christian influence within the country and its officials visit towns and villages to hold indoctrination classes for Christians.
4. VietnamChristianity is a major source of persecution in Vietnam. The reasons point to two main factors: first, the Communist party fears that organized religion will wane its authority and influence; second, the state views Christianity as linked with the United States, thence the pre-existing animosity between Vietnam and America since the Vietnam War highly affects its attitude against Christianity. Recently thirty Christian leaders received jail sentences ranging from three to twelve years, Compass Direct reported in June. In the same time, another fourteen Vietnamese pastors were arrested in the Central Highlands. Other were purported to have simply disappeared and 200 Christians have been arrested this year.
5. TurkmenistanAlthough the Constitution of Turkmenistan supports freedom of religion, all religious activities are rigidly controlled and severely restricted. The government has adapted some aspects of the majority religion, following the Islamic nations as part of efforts to redefine its identity. The nation is centered on its President, Saparmurat Niyazov. The president rejects the notion of Christian reverence of God that is greater than the respect and authority given to him. Turkmen who have accepted Christ are considered to be threats to the nations identity and have been subjected to official mistreatment and harassment. Eight Christians in Deinau were recently coerced to renounce their faith.
Churches around the globe will focus its prayers in support of the suffering Christians on Nov. 10th during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. IDOP is one of the largest internal prayer events since 1996. Ten Christian agencies including Open Doors are collaborating to sponsor the event.
"The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church presents an awesome opportunity for millions of people to make a difference in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith in countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia and many more," says Open Doors President Terry Madison. "In my many talks with persecuted Christians around the world, I always ask them what can we in the West do most to support them in their walk with the Lord. And they usually say just coming to meet with them is so supportive. But always No. 1 on the list is prayer. They want us to pray with them and for them. But not just one day a year!"
An estimation of 200 million Christians are persecuted around the globe and another 400 million live with religious restrictions.
For more information on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church go to www.persecutedchurch.org or to the Open Doors web site at www.opendoorsusa.org.
Currently working in 60 countries with 23 international offices and over 300 staff worldwide, Open Doors with Brother Andrew delivers Bibles and other study materials, provides literacy training and pastoral training and advocates on behalf of those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus. Open Doors will celebrate 50 years of ministry in 2005. To partner with Open Doors call 949-752-6600, go to its USA web site at www.opendoorsusa.org or write Open Doors with Brother Andrew, PO Box 27001, Santa Ana, CA 92799.
By Albert H. Lee