RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – The International Mission Board is collaborating with Nik Ripken Ministries to raise awareness about current religious persecution through the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This SBC-wide initiative will be observed June 6. It is a call for Southern Baptists to increase their awareness of and pray fervently for the global persecuted church.
In 2020, more than 340 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution and discrimination. Also last year, 4,761 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, and 4,277 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned. In addition, 4,488 churches and Christian buildings were attacked, according to data from the World Watch List.
“As our Southern Baptist missionaries take the Gospel to the most difficult to reach peoples and places around the world, they are witness to the suffering of those who boldly follow Jesus and are constantly confronted by those who persecute the Lord’s church,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said. “While our hearts break for our brothers and sisters in Christ who endure persecution and even martyrdom, we often feel powerless to help them. But we aren’t! We serve the One who, as Job declared, ‘makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away.’
“When we pray for those who are suffering, we have access to the One who can sustain them, comfort them and bring them justice.”
Persecution of the global church comes most fiercely from within a believer’s own family, according to John Brady, the IMB’s vice president for global engagement. However, many believers are facing intense persecution from opposing religious groups and their governments as well.
Familial persecution is evident in the life of Naomi*, a Deaf widow. COVID-19 forced her to move out of her city in Indonesia back home to a remote island. There, she converted from Islam to Christianity after working with an IMB Deaf translation team in her former city. Her parents were irate, and her dad locked her in his home and beat her daily, trying to get her to abandon her newfound faith.
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Source: Baptist Press