Today, Christians in regions of the world such as the Middle East face some of the worst persecution in history. Yet somehow many of them find reassurance in the Biblical truth that nothing shall separate us from the love of God.
This year's theme for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is: Nothing Shall Separate Us-based on Romans 8:35-39. Each year, Intercede International and four other Canadian Christian agencies---Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and International Christian Response-work together to create a collection of resources that help Canadian Christians and churches to remember their persecuted sisters and brothers around the world, and to pray for them. IDOP Canada recommends that churches mark this day on the second Sunday of November, but churches can mark this important date at any time.
Persecution for our faith can separate us from friends and family. In some countries, Christian leaders are thrown into prison simply because of practicing their faith. They are separated from their families-who sometimes do not even know where their loved one is being imprisoned. Families are left to support themselves while the breadwinner is confined to a prison cell.
Yet even so, these families can connect through prayer. They can pray for each other's protection, safety and provision. God hears those prayers. Despite their hardship, these believers are not separated from God.
Some believers have families who reject them because of their new Christian faith. But despite that separation, the believers can pray for their families. Believers maintain a strong connection with God. God will honour their prayers and work in the lives of their family members.
Here in Canada, Christians may not suffer as much as our fellow believers in other nations. We may feel separated from them because our circumstances are different. Yet we need to be connected more. One of the best things we can do for our persecuted brethren is to intercede for them.
"Pray for us ..." is the cry of persecuted Christians around the world. Today around the world more than 200 million are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ.
It is difficult for Canadians to imagine the day-to-day sufferings of those who live in countries where religious freedom is not regarded by their governments or neighbours. Imagine facing threats of false accusation and imprisonment, injury and harm to you or your family, attacks on businesses and homes, and even threats of death-all because of your faith in Christ?
How do our brothers and sisters cope with such conditions? How can their faith remain strong when it costs them so much? God alone empowers them to do so. We are humbled and encouraged as we witness their courage and obedience.
Often we ask, "What can we do to help them? What does God call us to do?" We can be the tool He uses to encourage them-through our prayers. Many are the testimonies from persecuted believers who say they find hope knowing that their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world raise a voice of prayer for them-praying that God give them strength and protect them. They find hope knowing that we have not forgotten them.
Each year, Christians in more than 130 countries stand in prayer with our persecuted sisters and brothers through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Join with us this November 8th as Christians across Canada unite for our brothers and sisters who suffer because they declare their faith in Christ.