Hundreds of thousands of people and congregations participated in the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 13. Through worldwide phone calls, broadcasts and local church services, Christians revealed their prayer support for the 200 million people in more than 60 nations suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ.
After a visit to Washington, D.C., Dr. Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, provided his comments on the current status of persecution in the world and the need to mobilize prayer and political support.
The following are excerpts taken from the interview:
IDOP occurred just after the release of the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom where eight countries were re-designated as CPCs. How do you think Christians should respond at this time when still so many countries are showing no signs of improved conditions for religious freedom and persecution is still prevalent?
I think it's wonderful that the U.S. government has taken the lead in identifying the worst persecutors, but Christians in all of their countries are at the forefront of this religious opposition. I'm praying that the church will [be a] place where that information is widely known, discussed and prayed for.
Is there a particular country you were focused on this year?
We're looking for Christian all across America to blanket North Korea in prayer. In the 1980s, we did a seven year prayer campaign 24/7 for the Soviet Union, from 1982 to 1989. And 1989 is the year the Berlin Wall fell.
In Eritrea, the condition of Christians there is absolutely horrific. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are not permitted religious groups and [we know of] 1,778 Christians who are being held in shipping containers, prisons and military confinement camps throughout the country. It's absolutely deplorable. So we're launching an advocacy campaign - E-Petition and paper petition - to encourage the U.S. government to step up. We have thousands of signatures at this point.
The entire world came together in prayers on Sunday for the persecuted church. While so many are suffering for their faith, many are still standing up for their faith and people abroad are backing them in prayers. Can you describe what kind of impact such a prayer initiative as IDOP brings?
It's absolutely amazing what prayer can do. In China, our co-workers are very fond of saying that prayers for the church in China have resulted in huge revival in the last 15 years. We know the power of prayer. It isn't just about that one day. It's about getting people aware of the persecuted church and getting them involved in prayer throughout the year.
What are your greatest concerns currently and greatest hopes for the persecuted church?
My greatest concern is we will miss the opportunity to bring the love of Jesus to our persecutors and that the church in America will not fight back.
My hope is that [the church in America] too will have spiritual courage and support [the persecuted] in their efforts to be the church of Jesus Christ in those places.
We are beginning to see some very new generation of Christians who are willing to go anywhere, willing to do whatever it takes to help the cause, to pay the price to be on the front lines for the brothers and sisters in the persecuted church.
Dr. Carl Moeller began ministry for the persecuted church in 1983 with Campus Crusade for Christ International. He ministered in Africa, Central America, South America and Australia while working for Campus Crusade and Saddleback Valley Community Church, where he was Pastor in Membership. Moeller now serves as president of Open Doors USA with a passion for mobilizing support of Christians in the United States for the people suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ.
The annual IDOP held this past Sunday involved the participation of an estimated 200,000 churches worldwide, marking the start of an unceasing prayer flow that will continue throughout the week until Canada observes its day of prayer on Nov. 20.