Christians worldwide are being urged by a ministry working with persecuted churches to join a prayer countdown for Chinese believers ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in China.
As the much-anticipated Olympic Games – Aug. 8-24, 2008 – fast approaches, Open Doors USA is calling on Christians to “blanket China in prayer” by joining its new “One Minute/One Year/One Country” prayer campaign.
Participants starting on Aug. 8, 2007 are encouraged to pray for at least one minute, every day at 8 p.m. Beijing time. The one year prayer campaign hopes to change the spiritual state of China such as improving religious freedom and freeing imprisoned Christian leaders.
“The Beijing Olympics presents an awesome opportunity for believers in the West to unite in prayer…not only for our fellow Christians but for the communist government of China to grant religious freedom to all worshippers, especially house church members,” said Open Doors USA president/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.
“And an opportunity to pray for those dedicated Christians who are being persecuted,” he added. “For example, prominent house church pastor Zhang Rongliang is currently seriously ill while serving another unjust prison sentence.”
Communist China has been severely criticized for its human rights and religious freedom violations, especially as it prepares to host the Olympics.
Among the top concerns in China for Christians are the persecution of unregistered house churches and the forced return of North Korean refugees in China who face torture and even death upon their repatriation.
It is said that at least 500,000 North Koreans have crossed the border over to China in the past 10 years. However, China has signed an agreement with its communist ally to return refugees back to North Korea where they face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution for leaving the country – a state crime.
U.S. human rights activists have urged people not to travel to Beijing to attend the 2008 Olympics unless China grants the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), access to North Koreans hiding in its territory.
Religious and civic activists have also said international media outlets should limit coverage to sporting events as part of the effort to deny China publicity.
“I encourage you to sign up now for the One Minute/One Year/One Country campaign on our website,” urged the Open Doors’ Moeller. “Tell others about the campaign. Together we can make a difference. And prayer is the No. 1 way.”
Believers who participate in the campaign will receive a monthly prayer email calendar and also a daily email brief to update them on the situation in China and offer specific prayer requests.
On the web: www.opendoorsusa.org