Central Asia (MNN) — Did you miss the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church this weekend? Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith says not to fret.
“There’s a date on November third, and then there’s an optional alternate date of November tenth,” he states.
According to IDOP.org, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2, respectively) were set apart in the traditional Church calendar to remember the saints of the Church and souls of those who went before us.
The modern-day global Church sets two dates aside during the month of November to remember and pray for the Persecuted Church. This year, those dates fall on Nov. 3 and Nov. 10.
However, “we would urge ongoing prayer, 365 days a [year] for our persecuted brothers and sisters,” Griffith notes.
SGA serves Bible-preaching churches in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States by helping national pastors and churches reach their own people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“There definitely has been an uptick in the level and intensity of persecution in these countries,” says Griffith.
Earlier this year, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was imprisoned as part of a nationwide crack-down. He’s been arrested on trumped-up charges, denied medical attention, and imprisoned in a psychiatric asylum.
Now, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), Kazakh officials are harassing members of Kashkumbaev’s Grace Protestant Church.
“You are worse than spies. You bring Kazakhs to Christ,” an officer reportedly told one of ICC’s sources.
In Eastern Kazakhstan, Baptist Pastor Pavel Leonov is facing up to a year’s imprisonment for refusing to pay a fine equal to two months’ income, according to Forum 18 News. Leonov is a Council of Churches Baptist; a group which refuses to register their fellowships with the government.
SGA works with churches of the Union of Evangelical Christians Baptist (UECB), a group registered with Kazakhstan’s government. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t run into problems, Griffith notes.
“They try to comply with registration laws,” he says. “They try to follow the law as closely as they can, and they still end up getting persecuted anyway.”
The Silver Lining
Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Central Asia from sharing their faith.
“The churches remember what life was like under Communism,” Griffith states.
“They know what it is to live and serve under persecution, and they’re certainly not going to stop proclaiming the Gospel because this seems to be stepping up again.”
Keep praying for persecuted Christians around the world. Pray specifically for believers in Central Asia.
“Pray for these pastors who are encountering difficulty right now,” adds Griffith.
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“For some reason, it just doesn’t seem to grab the attention of the news media, and it needs to,” says Griffith. “I mean, these are people that are actually being killed for their faith.”