Syria (MNN) — Earlier this week, news of the ISIS leader’s death was plastered across media outlets. The groups’ leadership vacuum begs the question—what does this mean for Christians in the region? The Voice of the Martyrs, USA’s Todd Nettleton says not much has changed.
What About Christians in Syria?
“ISIS was certainly no friend to Christians. Tens of thousands of Christians were displaced by ISIS as they moved forward. When they would take over a city or a village, they would typically announce, ‘Christians get out or risk your lives,’” Nettleton says.
“As long as ISIS controlled territory, they were a risk; they were a danger to Christians. The reality is that the ideology that drives ISIS is not dead, even though the leader of the group is dead. Christians in the Middle East are still going to face persecution.”
The good news is that ISIS is not controlling as much territory as it did four years ago. The persecution Christians experience from the extremist group has eased. But Christians in Syria still need our prayers.
Neighboring countries continue to fight for control of the nation. Turkey recently rolled into the country and brought Russian forces along with it. The two nations sealed their power in northern Syria earlier this week. It is the same area where U.S. forces withdrew.
International Day of Prayer
This Sunday, the global Church community will unite in prayer for the Persecuted Church. The day, International Day of Prayer (IDOP), is an encouragement to both those who pray and those who are the focus of countless prayers. It is also a chance to use the news to pray specifically for brothers and sisters in Christ. Nettleton says VOM’s hope is for every church and every Christian to get involved this Sunday.
“There are churches who give the whole day to the International Day of Prayer. We’ve even heard from churches that do some kind of an underground church service, or they have a secret knock to get into their Sunday school class on that particular Sunday,” Nettleton says.
Still not sure how to observe the International Day of Prayer? Go out of your way to focus prayers on Christians suffering from persecution. VOM has resources that can help, including a video, bulletins, PowerPoint slides, and specific prayer requests from around the world.
To find more ideas and resources to mark the International Day of Prayer, CLICK HERE.
During the International Day of Prayer, VOM will post a new prayer request every hour on its social media platforms. These specific prayer requests come from Christians connected with VOM. But do not wait until Sunday to start praying; take time to pray today, too.
Pray for persecuted Christians to not lose hope. Pray for their encouragement and joy despite their circumstances. Ask God to strengthen them through His Word. And pray for them to withstand persecution.
“Pray for protection and safety. Pray that they’ll have enough to eat today. Pray that their kids will be able to get an education. Those are very practical prayer requests. But those things aren’t necessarily a given right now in northern Syria, as well as in more than 70 other countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith,” Nettleton says.
Header photo courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs, USA via Facebook.