Christian youths on Friday kicked off a time-zone crossing prayer chain for persecuted believers that began in New Zealand and will go around to about 50 countries.
The ninth annual SHOCKWAVE global prayer for the persecuted is scheduled to take place March 5-7. The prayer event is organized by the Underground, a youth and student ministry of Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted believers worldwide.
"Shockwave is a movement of prayer that allows the passion of young people's hearts to be heard by God as we cry out and join together across the world in solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters," said Scott Ahern, director of innovative strategies for Open Doors USA.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer different forms of persecution, including interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ. Millions more face discrimination and alienation.
Organizers point to Hebrews 13:3, "remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering," as the inspiration for SHOCKWAVE.
During the 72-hour event, prayers will take place in SHOCKWAVE chat rooms, prayer meetings, churches, homes and other places in dozens of countries. In some locations, participants are holding all-night events or prayer breakfasts.
This year's participating countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, India, Malaysia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Canada and Brazil.
"This is truly a witness of the unity of the body of Christ when youth from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and regions of the world join to pray for one cause – to lift up and support through prayer God's suffering children," Ahern said.
Last year, thousands of young Christians joined in prayer for the persecuted.
The ten countries with the worst persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors' 2010 World Watch List, are:
1. North Korea
3. Saudi Arabia
On the Web: http://www.odshockwave.org