As many as 100,000 congregations worldwide and millions of Christians are participating in a day of prayer for the persecuted church Sunday.
Known as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, the annual event was launched over 20 years ago by the World Evangelical Alliance, with other Christian human rights groups adding their support.
Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the WEA's Religious Liberty Commission, told The Christian Post that the observance was meant to "bring together concentrated prayer during a specific period for persecuted believers worldwide."
"Our hope is that the IDOP will serve in bringing awareness to the global church on the persecution of Christians worldwide and inspire them to respond to the needs of suffering believers," said Yogarajah.
"At the same time, our hope is also that the IDOP would be a source of encouragement to the persecuted and a reminder that they are part of a global family of believers who are standing in solidarity with them."
Every year, the event has a different theme. For 2018, the theme is "Listen to Their Cry," which stresses the need to give the persecuted a platform.
"We believe that God uses the prayers of his people to strengthen and deliver suffering saints," stated Yogarajah on the observance's website. "However, in order to pray for these suffering brothers and sisters, we must first listen to their stories. In other words, we must hear their cry."
According to the Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA's World Watch List report, released in January, as many as 215 million Christians around the world are being persecuted because of their beliefs.
Open Doors USA reported that over 3,000 Christians were killed in 2017 for their faith. Also, nearly 800 churches were attacked.
"It's easy to move through life disconnected from what happens to believers in other parts of the world. But this report helps us close the gap between us," said David Curry, CEO of Open Doors, in the report.
"After all, the World Watch List isn't about the numbers, but the people these numbers represent. I hope you see their stories of victory and resilience, and — more than anything — I hope you see the powerful Kingdom work God is accomplishing in some of the most difficult countries in the world."