With each new report, the evidence is mounting: Christians around the world – and even in our backyards – are being persecuted for their faith. But, according to a Christian Freedom International poll, although most Americans know about persecution, they either believe they don’t have a personal responsibility to help, or they don’t know how.

 

For those who do wish to help their persecuted brothers and sisters, prayer is the strongest weapon. This year, Christians in more than 100 countries will join in prayer to strengthen those who are persecuted for their faith and to comfort those who are overcoming the great losses wrought by the Southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the 7.6-magnitude earthquake in South Asia.

“In the context of His own life, Jesus demonstrated the tremendous importance of prayer,” said Johan Candelin, global coordinator for the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) and director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Commission for Religious Freedom. “We therefore want to transform our longings into prayer and ask God to transform the world through the prayers of his people.”

 

The 2005 IDOP week begins on Sunday, Nov. 13 and ends on Nov. 20.  While churches are encouraged to pray throughout the week, they are specifically urged to take part in the unified act of advocacy through prayer on either Sunday. 

 

According to organizers of IDOP, more than 200 million men, women and children in more than 60 countries face discrimination, persecution and even death for their Christian faith. 

Special Focus

 

Open Doors USA is focusing on Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia during IDOP. Their website includes a sermon outline and other helpful material. The following is a synopsis of these three countries and some of the prayer needs.

Sri Lanka – A long stretch of Sri Lanka’s coast was devastated by the killer tsunami waves last December, leaving almost 40,000 dead and 2.5 million people displaced. Among the displaced were 1,060 children who lost both parents and 3,414 children who lost one parent. It is the worst human disaster in the history of Sri Lanka, a large island of 20 million located off the southeast coast of India.

 

Persecution of Christians has increased in Sri Lanka over the last several years. Statistics from the World Evangelical Alliance show that from January 2003 to March 2004 more than 140 anti-Christian incidents were recorded. These incidents ranged from mild threats to death warnings, arson and the destruction of church buildings. There are currently efforts by Buddhist monks to pass an amendment to the Constitution that would make Buddhism the state religion and enact anti-conversion laws.