International (MNN) — Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, or IDOP 2018. Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says Asia Bibi’s acquittal proves that prayer really does make a difference.
“The great news this week is that Asia Bibi, a wife and mother and Christian in Pakistan, has been found not guilty by the Supreme Court. This is just a huge ‘praise the Lord’,” Nettleton remarks.
“Sometimes we wonder, you know, ‘Do our prayers make a difference?’ Well, here’s a case where it is absolutely an answer to prayer.”
As Asia Bibi’s case dragged through Pakistan’s legal system for the past nine years, Christians around the world prayed earnestly for her release. In 2015, VOM organized a petition to the Pakistani government calling for Bibi’s freedom.
“All of those prayers, all of that outcry to God and to the Pakistani government has now produced fruit,” Nettleton says. “We celebrate, we praise the Lord, and we continue to pray for Christians in Pakistan.
“There have been protests, there have been promises of violent reprisals… we can’t stop praying for Pakistan because she’s been released.”
The world is a pretty big place, and Christians are persecuted in more places than Pakistan. Would you and your church pray for them on Sunday?
IDOP 2018: praying for the persecuted Church
Each year, persecution watchdogs like VOM call believers to remember their brothers and sisters in chains on the first Sunday of November.
“The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church was not the creation of any ministry; it wasn’t [like] a bunch of Americans got together and had this idea,” Nettleton explains.
“It was an answer to the call of our persecuted family around the world.”
Some pastors preach their entire sermon on persecution and what it means to suffer for Christ, he adds, while others touch on New Testament passages that directly address persecution. Churches use resources like these to help believers pray for the persecuted.
IDOP 2018 doesn’t have one specific way to pray, and there are many needs you can cover. However, Nettleton does ask that you remember to pray for something “unusual” on behalf of persecuted Christians: forgiveness.
“Pray that they’ll be able to forgive their persecutors, and pray that they’ll be able to witness to their persecutors. It’s not easy,” he says.
“Pray that God’s love will shine through those who are being persecuted – to their persecutors, to their fellow prisoners, to the judges and the lawyers and the people who are representing them – so that God’s Kingdom marches forward.”
As you pray for persecuted Christians on IDOP 2018, praise God for His perfect timing.
“We’re talking about Asia Bibi and…God knew…that this would all happen around the same time,” Nettleton shares.
“The video’s about praying for Christians in Pakistan.”
Header and story images courtesy of VOM USA.