Christian groups gathered online for an event that focuses on praying for the persecuted believers in China, India, and Nigeria where persecution has intensified in recent years.
On Nov. 15, Christians from across the globe held a virtual prayer meeting called the 24th International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), the main goal of which is to pray for believers in various parts of the world that currently suffer persecution.
Evangelical Alliance, Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Open Doors organized the online event, which was aired on livestream from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm of the said date.
The event is an annual day of prayer participated in by the global body of believers. The whole month of November is also a prayer month for persecuted Christian believers all over the world.
This year, the IDOP prayed for Christians who suffer increased persecution during the pandemic. Religious freedom faces increased threat as the world continues to combat COVID-19. Release International, one of the event organizers, revealed that the restrictions due to the coronavirus scare have worsened the persecution of Christian churches, especially in the said countries.
"They are huge countries, China, the biggest in the world, India, the second biggest, and Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa," Andrew Boyd of Release International said, according to Premier Christian News.
"And in all of those three nations, persecution is happening in plain sight. It's being permitted to continue, the authorities are not doing much to prevent it, and in some cases, they're encouraging it," he added.
The prayer movement goes out to China, where believers see their churches shut down, demolished, or repurposed. Authorities have also removed crosses from church buildings.
Pastors and other church leaders in China have been arrested, while others are pressured to leave their homes. Reports also say that some police officers harassed landlords who allowed church leaders to rent their places. Officials instruct them to pressure the leaders to leave their apartments.
At the online gathering, Christians prayed for India as well. Believers in India suffer from attacks from Hindu extremists almost daily. They are being harassed because of their faith.
Hindu extremists believe that an Indian has to be a Hindu. They will not tolerate any other religion or belief apart from Hinduism. Anyone caught worshipping other gods or observing another religion will surely be persecuted.
The country, which has the second-highest population and is the largest democracy on in the world now gives Christians one of the toughest challenges of faith.
Finally, the IDOP prayed for Christians in Nigeria, where believers constantly face the risk of being driven away from their homes, or worse, slaughtered.
Paul Robinson, Release Chief Executive Officer said in a statement that persecution has become so rampant that it is now happening on plain sight. They no longer hide in backwaters and they actually take place in the largest countries with the highest population rate.
Andrew Boyd of Release International encouraged believers to continue to pray not only for the persecuted Christians but for their oppressors as well.
He added that among those tormentors, there could be a Saul, who persecuted the Christian church in the book of Acts but had an encounter with God that redirected his life and drove him to the nations to preach the gospel.