Fifteen of the most well-known Christian persecution groups recently formed a historic global network to strengthen the work and unity of the church for Christians suffering in religiously intolerant lands.
At a conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, organizations such as the World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide united to form "The Religious Liberty Partnership."
"This is a historical day. Never ever before has there been this kind of partnership between the main organizations in the world working for the persecuted church," said Johan Candelin, executive director of WEA Religious Liberty Commission, in a statement released on Wednesday.
Candelin says the partnership will help persecution groups work more effectively by avoiding overlaps in work and strengthening research and information.
The network will be chaired by Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and will meet annually. It will also have a working group with five members leading various tasks during the year.
Members of the steering committee are the World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Christian Solidarity International.
During the conference on March 6-8, members also adopted a Charter of Best Practice - an agreement created to set up a standard of communication within the network to prevent the harmful spreading of rumors, which historically has been a common experience for the persecuted church.
The network is a "major victory not only for the organizations, but for the persecuted churches and the free churches that want to work together," said Candelin, emphasizing the "spirit of unity and deep commitment" among the organizations.
"We could also see the future challenges together and bring our pieces and put them together. Then we will come to see a piece that no one could see alone," said the WEA religious freedom head.
The next annual meeting will be held in March 2008 in Zurich, Switzerland.