Saturday marks the United Nations’ International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.
It’s a day to remember that people of faith are persecuted for religious beliefs and practices around the world, whether they are Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or other.
In today’s world Christians are the largest group of people persecuted for their faith. More than 260 million Christians are living in places where they experience high levels of persecution. The 2020 World Watch List compiled by the ministry Open Doors reports that almost 3,000 Christians were killed for their faith in the past year.
As people around the world suffer in numerous ways due to the current global pandemic, we are mindful that the toll is higher on the most vulnerable. Populations that are economically and socially marginalized are more likely to have severe health impacts from COVID-19. They may lack access to proper to health care. Marginalized people may have less income or less job security to weather periods of quarantine or economic shutdown. As well, in some countries, state restrictions to curtail the pandemic can be harsh or unevenly applied.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights describes the greater risk to human rights during the pandemic:
We have seen many States adopt justifiable, reasonable and time-limited measures. But there have also been deeply worrying cases where Governments appear to be using COVID-19 as a cover for human rights violations, further restricting fundamental freedoms and civic space, and undermining the rule of law.
The World Evangelical Alliance reported in July on the worrying impact of COVID-19 on religious minorities around the world. It reports on minority religious groups facing discrimination in food aid or suffering under harsher treatment.
Let’s take some time to pray for minority religious groups who are particularly impacted during the pandemic. Let’s remember especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. We bear one another’s burdens. We hope in the Lord to provide, to strengthen and to encourage. We commit these vulnerable people in dangerous situations into God’s care.
Hebrews 13:3 says, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
This fall, plan to take part in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on Sunday, November 1. Watch TheEFC.ca/IDOP for links to the free downloadable resources for churches and individuals, coming in September.