During the season of Lent Restoration will focus on praying for persecuted Christians around the world. We will intercede for specific persecuted people groups on Sunday mornings and provide printed information as well as publishing a prayer feature on our blog each Monday to help you continue to lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. –Matthew 5:10-12
Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ. Every month, on average, 255 Christians are killed for their faith, 104 are abducted, 66 churches are attacked, and 160 Christians are detained without trial or imprisoned. At least 215 million Christians experience a high level of persecution around the world – that is 1 out of every 12 believers. A large portion of this persecution is rooted in anti-Christian authoritarian governments, cultural hostility from the majority religious groups in the country, or a general lack of basic human rights.
Persecution in many areas is brutal and full of beatings, harsh imprisonments and labor camps, or even murders. However, persecution can also look like a father disowning his son, the shopkeepers not selling to a pastor, an employer not hiring a believer, or even a family left unable to bury their dead because it is illegal for them to have a gravesite. Many Christians in hostile nations have to meet under the utmost secrecy and infrequently in order to avoid detection, with some choosing not to risk detection and remaining in isolation. There are believers who have no access to a Bible because persecutors have taken them away or burned them all, forcing the believers to rely upon the scriptures that they have committed to memory over time. There are churches who have suffered attack after attack from religious extremists who are determined to eradicate Christianity in their country. Christian persecution can enter into any part of a believers life.
What does that mean for us? It means that we have brothers and sisters around the world who do not have the opportunity to do what you are doing right now – to read, to hear, or to gather about the Word of God. It means that we will take the time to pray for the persecuted church, and for their persecutors. We will learn about their lives and how God is still moving among them. We will invest our time in not allowing them to be alone – no matter the physical distance between us. It means that we are one body and when one part suffers, we all suffer.
Prayer for the Mission of the Church
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, bring the nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.