Christians worldwide will unite in prayer Sunday for persecuted Christians suffering under intolerant governments.
During the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), Christians are urged to pray for the over 200 million persecuted Christians in the world.
In particular, Christians are asked this year to pray for "Secret Believers," or Muslim Background Believers, who have converted from Islam to Christianity.
"The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church presents a tremendous opportunity for millions of people to make a difference in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith in countries like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, North Korea and many more," said Open Doors USA president/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.
"Persecuted believers have asked us who live in freedom to pray for them – always their number one request," he added. "And on November 11 we have the opportunity to collectively lift our petitions to the Lord on their behalf."
IDOP is one of the largest prayer events in the world and has helped raise awareness of persecuted Christians since its inception in 1996.
Participants are encouraged to pray for believers in such countries as:
•Iran – Christians report that persecution has increased markedly and that believers are experiencing greater hardship since the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2005. Islam is the official religion in Iran, and all laws and regulations must be consistent with the official interpretation of Shariah law (strict Muslim law). Christian prisoners face strong psychological pressures, including threats to kill their family and other Christian believers, in order to force them to recant their Christian faith and return to Islam.
•Egypt – According to Compass Direct, although Egypt's Christian citizens are free to embrace Islam and obtain legal Muslim identities, Muslim citizens are not allowed to change their religious identity. Those who become Christians are subjected to severe harassment by the State Security Investigation (SSI), which often arrests converts for either insulting Islam or "threatening national security." Islam is the official state religion of Egypt.
•China – According to Compass Direct, house church Christians throughout China fear tough restrictions on their freedom to worship following the launch of a government crackdown ahead of the Olympic Games. There are reports of ongoing house church raids and arrests. An unprecedented number of foreign Christians have been expelled from China since the first of the year.
On the Web: www.secretbelievers.org