USA (MNN) — Christians face bodily injury and even death around the world, simply for being a Christian. Story after story chronicles the plight of believers around the globe. On November 9, Christians will unite together to pray on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors USA, says, "Around the world, hundreds of millions of Christians suffer harassment , oppression, and restriction of opportunities. And then at least 100 million Christians around the world suffer arrest, imprisonment, torture and even martyrdom."
Moeller says IDOP is a time to join with suffering Christians. "The reality on the International Day of Prayer is we say to the world, 'We are one body.' And I know that this is what the Lord intends because it's the focus of His final prayer in the garden, that we would be one, that we would be united."
Moeller says examples of persecution are countless. "In Iran," he says, "there are dozens of Christians being questioned and harassed, and we've even had Christians killed while being held by the Iranian government."
There's a reason Iran is responding this way. Moeller says, "The secret believers in Iran are producing a backlash from the government. They are desperately afraid that Christians will find this message of hope in Jesus Christ and leave Islam."
In India, Hindu nationalists are reacting to the increasing number of Hindus converting to Christianity. "Ultra-nationalist Hindus have decided in the state of Orissa and several other states to actively exterminate the Christian community the best they can. Really, it's a 'religicide' going on right now in Orissa."
While this is bad news physically, Moeller says there is good news. He says it's what he calls "the great paradox of persecution." "We see in the New Testament wherever the church grew and became a visible active presence in a community, the forces of darkness were aligned against it, and persecution broke out. And this is exactly what happens today around the world."
Moeller says hundreds of thousands of churches worldwide are gathering together to pray. This year Open Doors is also encouraging churches to help the persecuted church physically, not only by praying, but by providing children's Bibles. "We can provide a children's Bible in their language for as little as $5. And so we're asking people to just take some time on the International Day of Prayer to pray and to give."