Franklin Graham, Christian Leaders to Hold World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Moscow

Displaced Iraqi Christians
Displaced Iraqi Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq, September 6, 2014. |
Iraqi Christians
Iraqi Christians displaced by the violence in their country wait in line to receive aid from a Chaldean Catholic Church truck in Beirut August 13, 2014. Well financed and armed, Islamic State insurgents have captured large swathes of territory in a summer offensive, as the Iraqi army - and now Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the self-governing north - have crumbled in the face of its onslaught, massacring Shiites and minority Christians and Yazidis as they advance. |
Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham, head of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, visits one of the organization's cholera treatment centers in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, January 8, 2011. |
A child cries in a military helicopter after being evacuated by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad, Aug. 29, 2014. A home to around 180,000 people, mostly Turkmen Shi'ites, the small town of Amerli is still holding out against repeated attacks by Islamic State fighters despite the fall of all the 34 villages surrounding it. |
Iraqi Christians
A girl holds up a sign that reads: "I am an Iraqi, I am a Christian" at Mar Girgis Church in Baghdad, July 20, 2014. The head of Iraq's largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword. Sako was speaking at the special church service in east Baghdad where around 200 Muslims joined Christians in solidarity. |
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The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Russian Orthodox Church will be hosting a summit on religious persecution in Moscow, the Rev. Franklin Graham announced today.

"I was in Russia this past October and met with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and evangelical leaders, and we discussed at length the persecution of the Church worldwide," Graham wrote  in a Facebook message Wednesday, explaining the roots of the summit, which will be held in October.

"The World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on this crisis. We will bring delegates from around the world and will be able to join hands with people of other churches and denominations of the Christian faith to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to hear firsthand reports of the suffering that is taking place."

Graham also referenced the Orthodox Church's own history of persecution, especially during most of the 20th century under Communism.

"In the years under Communist rule, virtually all of the priests, pastors, and church leaders in Russia were imprisoned or executed by the Communists, and their graves are on the outskirts of Moscow and throughout the country serving as a reminder," continued Graham.

"No church in modern history has suffered more than the church in Russia. … So Moscow will be a fitting and meaningful location for this much-needed summit."

Graham's announcement came off the heels of a report by Open Doors USA that 2015 was the worst year for Christian persecution globally in the modern era.

In 2015 an estimated 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith, which was a 50 percent increase from the year before.

"Islamic extremism continues to be the primary driving force behind the expansion of persecution," stated Open Doors President and CEO David Curry.

"It is no longer just a Christian problem, but a global problem that must be addressed. … As the dominant power in the free world, [the U.S.] must lead the charge in bringing more relief and aid to those suffering."

The summit comes as a collaboration between two groups, evangelicals and Orthodox, who have not always been on good terms.

In 2011, CBN reported on the concerns some Russian evangelicals had about the growing power of the Orthodox Church in the former USSR.

"Since the early 1990s, the Church has grown in size and influence as its relationship with the Russian government has improved significantly. However, that cozy relationship worries the country's evangelicals," reported CBN.

"The Orthodox Church's biggest competitors are the evangelical, charismatic congregations, which are experiencing tremendous growth."

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