Last week I promised you some specific prayer points as we intercede for the persecuted church. While I will highlight several situations, please remember that persecution is worldwide. The Open Doors website prominently displays their map showing the fifty nations where persecution is the worst.
I’ve elected to share a few facts and stories from different parts of the world, not because these are the most popular or most important, but as a way to relate more personally to our brothers and sisters being tested so severely. I hope these stories galvanize you to seek further information and pray more fervently. The “One With Them” website provides more individual stories, or just Google “persecuted church.”
Iraq & Syria
Pray for Christians impacted by ISIS. Much of the news coming from the Mideast has been buried by the media in favor of new and different items. My “top stories” feed has been full of sports headlines, but ISIS hasn’t taken a break to go watch football. They’re still slaughtering anyone who disagrees with their narrow religions perspective. Please pray for both the suffering believers and those who are blinded by a false ideology.
For the twelfth straight year, North Korea tops the list of nations hostile to Christianity. All North Koreans are required to worship Kim Il-sung, “Eternal President of the Republic,” even after his death in 1994. His late son, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, and grandson Kim Jong-un (the current leader), are also venerated. Of course, Christians worship only God. As a result, according to Open Doors, there are approximately 50,000-70,000 Christians currently imprisoned in the country’s notoriously brutal labor camps.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, Iran
Pastor Abedini is a 34-year-old U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his faith. During the summer of 2012 he returned to Iran to visit his family and continue work on an orphanage he was building. During that visit, he was placed under house arrest for his faith. Two months later, he was arrested at his parents’ home and taken to Evin prison, where he was subjected to interrogations and beatings, and placed in solitary confinement. The following January, Pastor Abedini received an eight-year sentence for “evangelizing and attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.” He is now serving time in Rajai Prison, an even more brutal prison. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and young children are asking God for a miracle. They ask for prayer that “our governments and leaders will be reminded of the importance of religious freedom for all.”
Pastor Abedini is only one of a number of pastors imprisoned for their faith in Iran. In addition to being deprived of their freedom and basic human rights, they are suffering significant health issues from torture and life-threatening prison conditions.
Asia Bibi, Pakistan
The Voice of the Martyrs website tells Asia Bibi’s story:
[On October 19] Pakistan’s High Court rejected the appeal of a Christian woman sentenced to death for the crime of blasphemy. Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, Asia Bibi will be put to death. … Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after a heated argument with two of her co-workers. Asia worked for a Muslim-landowner as did many of the women in her village. As one of three Christian families in her village, after being pressured to convert to Islam during the spat, she defended her faith. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told the women, “and yours is not true.” … For this crime, in November 2010, she was sentenced to death.
Please join me in praying for the church around the world, that the prisoners would be set free and that Christians would be allowed to worship according to their faith, sharing the good news with those in darkness. Above all, pray that Jesus would be lifted up and receive the praise He so richly deserves.