To bring awareness to the plight of Christians persecuted for their faith around the world, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will hold the historic World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians next month.
Reads the event description on the BGEA website: "The World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians is being convened by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, May 10-13, 2017 in Washington, D.C. We'll bring together hundreds of Church leaders and victims of Christian persecution from around the world as we 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 taking place around the world."
In 2016, 90,000 Christians throughout the world were killed for their faith, according to statistics compiled by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
A 2016 report from persecution watchdog Open Doors USA similarly found that persecution of Christians rose globally for the third year in a row, reaching "unprecedented levels" in countries located in South and Southeast Asia, among other locations.
"Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of home and assets, torture, beheadings, rape and even death as a result of their faith," the report stated.
The BGEA says about 125 persecuted Christians are expected to attend the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, and many will share their stories during breakout sessions. There will also be times of prayer for believers around the world who remain under oppression.
The summit will display a large arch with screens scrolling the names of thousands of Christian martyrs, in addition to other features.
On Twitter, BGEA head Franklin Graham asked Christians to pray ahead of this historic event: "Pray as we bring awareness," he wrote.
He told BGEA that through the event, he aims to "educate the American public and Washington as to what is happening and how we can work with the United Nations and other government bodies to ensure that Christians are protected."
"Christians are under attack. Not just throughout the Middle East but around the world, and we need to show solidarity," he said. "We just need to pray and be vigilant. We need to be educated, but that should not make us afraid."
He added, "It should embolden us to be even more bold and more direct with the truth of the Gospel, because Jesus is the only one who can save. I want to the world to know that it's Jesus."
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