OTTAWA – The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP.ca) calls Canadians to join with over half a million churches in 150 countries on Sunday, November 4, 2012 to pray for Christian believers who are suffering, even dying, for their faith.
“Christian persecution is not new,” says Anita Levesque, coordinator for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s (EFC) Religious Liberty Commission, “but what is alarming is that the number of Christians killed in the 20th century, simply because of their faith, has been recognized as more than the number of Christians killed in the 19 centuries prior.”
Today, around the world over 200 million are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. The number of Christians who have been martyred for their faith in the 21st Century averages over 170,000 each year.
Many Christian victims of persecution have shared that the prayer of Christian believers living in countries where religious freedom is actually practiced serves to encourage and strengthen them spiritually. Expression such as IDOP helps to bring global awareness to their plight. While the focus of IDOP is supporting those persecuted, past participants have said they find spiritual strength and encouragement in the stories of persecuted believers who evidence overcoming courage in the face of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Open Doors, a partner in Canada’s IDOP, compiles an annual list ranking 50 of the top offending countries in the world. North Korea continues to be identified as the most dangerous place to be a Christian, followed by Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. Ranking is based specifically on persecution for faith, not political, economic, social, ethnic or accidental reasons.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the connection between the countries who are the worst violators of religious freedom and other international concerns about human rights violations and matters of global security,” notes Levesque.
Officials say that the long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom, promised in the last election, will be unveiled soon, though no dates have been announced. The importance of ‘getting it right’ and the need to find the right person to fill the role of ambassador to head up the office has caused delays. “The establishment of this office has been applauded by many Christian organizations, including the EFC, as an acknowledgement of the importance of monitoring and protecting this fundamental human right which has globally become the focus of more restrictive and aggressive activity than any other,” concludes Levesque.
For more information, visit www.idop.ca.
[Source: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada]