OTTAWA – Over half a million churches in 150 countries will join to pray on Sunday, November 10, 2013 for Christians around the world who are suffering and even dying for their faith. IDOP Canada, a group of Canadian charities which supports the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is calling Canadians to join this annual prayer event.
In recent days, a suicide bombing at a Pakistan church in Peshawar left 85 dead and over 140 wounded. And in Northern Nigeria the Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group, opened fire in a church, killing the pastor and his two children before setting fire to the church building.
Such attacks are drawing long overdue attention from mainstream media regarding the random cruelty of extremists who increasingly are focusing their attacks on Christians.
Anita Levesque is coordinator for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Religious Liberty Commission, one of the Canadian charities that make up IDOP Canada. She states that “in the Middle East, the cry for a more democratic society that was raised during the 2010 Arab Spring has been replaced by an open season on Christians.”
“Because of attacks in nations such as Egypt and Syria, there has been an unprecedented exodus of Christians from regions where Christianity first began. Many fear we are seeing the complete extermination of Christians from such regions.”
Don Hutchinson, a vice-president at the EFC, is the current chair of its Religious Liberty Commission. He says the number of Christians killed in the 20th century, simply because of their faith, was more than the number of Christians killed in the 19 centuries prior.
“The situation is alarming,” he says. Over 200 million people today are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. So far in the 21st century, the number of Christians who have been killed for their faith averages over 170,000 each year, he reports.
Levesque, who regularly examines reports from various countries, says prayer is the most common request from Christian victims of persecution. “The prayers of their brothers and sisters in countries such as Canada, where religious freedom is actually practised, serves to encourage and strengthen them spiritually in the midst of great hardship,” she says.
Initiatives such as IDOP Canada help to bring global awareness to their plight. While the focus of IDOP Canada is to support the persecuted overseas, Canadian participants often say they find spiritual strength and personal encouragement in the stories of persecuted believers. Their remarkable courage in the face of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ is inspiring.
As the attack on Christians intensifies globally, so should the action and prayers of fellow believers on their behalf, says Levesque. “IDOP Canada is calling on Canadians to be a voice in prayer for those who are being persecuted by joining us on November 10, 2013.”
For more information, visit www.idop.ca
. The website includes free downloadable materials Canadian groups can use to observe the day of prayer.
For more information or an interview contact:
Rick Hiemstra, Director, Media Relations
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
(613) 233-9868 x332