Date: August 21, 2013
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church will be observed November 3, 2013. (Image courtesy Open Doors)
Why? The answer is simple: they are followers of Christ.
According to Open Doors USA, over 100 million Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They're the reason for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, or IDOP.
"Dedicating this day of prayer is absolutely vital," says Emily Fuentes with Open Doors. "Prayer has moved mountains in the past, and prayers change the hearts of leaders. Prayers can change the course of history for nations."
IDOP will be observed on the first Sunday of November this year, November 3. To help you engage the "prayer warriors" in your congregation, Open Doors is offering a free prayer kit.
"There are prayer guides, there are videos, there are bulletin inserts, sermon outlines--free resources in general, just to make this day happen," Fuentes explains.
"This is a great way of uniting the Body of Christ," says Fuentes. "We're one body; when one member suffers, we all suffer. When one is lifted up, we all rejoice."
MNN will also be airing a special broadcast on IDOP, encouraging Christians to honor heroes of the faith around the world and to pray for Christians who face harm every day.
In the United States--a country founded upon freedoms, it's hard to grasp the concept of persecution.
"Brother Andrew, our founder, once had a statement saying, 'You Christians in America aren't persecuted. You're intimidated,'" Fuentes says.
She points to North Korea as an example. It tops the Open Doors World Watch List, a compilation of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the worst.
In this country, "your faith doesn't just affect you," Fuentes says. "It affects your whole family."
Fuentes explains that proclaiming Christ as Lord in North Korea will get you and three generations of your family thrown into a concentration camp or gulag.
"Dilemmas that Christians in countries like North Korea have to go through are beyond what any of us could ever imagine," she states.
Please remember the persecuted in your prayers today.
"It's important to remember how many times in the New Testament we're called to be one Body, the Body of Christ," adds Fuentes.