The annual International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for persecuted Christians is happening this Sunday, November 7, during which persecution watchdog Open Doors USA is set to host an online event for the global prayer.
The annual event was launched over 20 years ago and falls on the first Sunday of November. It was established to commemorate those who have endured persecution and oppression, especially in countries where being Christian means having one's life be in constant danger.
"Over 340 million Christians are persecuted or oppressed because of their faith in Jesus," Open Doors USA president and CEO David Curry told CBN's Prayer Link, via the Christian Headlines. Calling upon churches to participate in the International Day of Prayer for persecuted Christians, he added, "Some of those places like North Korea are exceptionally difficult if you're caught with the Bible, you may spend the rest of your life in prison or even lose your life."
Curry explained that there are places around the world "where the Gospel is opposed," where Christians are often "harassed and bothered, so there are any number of ways people can be persecuted for their faith." Curry, who defined the annual World Watch list of countries where Christian persecution is at its most severe, shared that his organization has assigned teams worldwide to distribute resources to persecuted Christians in need.
"We go and stand with them," Curry remarked, saying that they don't merely just airlift supplies, but do the delivering themselves. He asserted that "prayer is what it's all about" and that to "pray is to actively do something to help someone else," CBN News reported.
Open Doors USA will be joined by Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and The Evangelical Alliance during the online event on Sunday, November 7. Christians all over the world are encouraged to pray for their brothers and sisters in countries such as those in the persecution watchdog's World Watch List, where persecution is at its worst. Such countries include North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Nigeria, China, Myanmar, and Iran, among others.
In fact, just this week, three Iranian Christian converts submitted a letter to authorities in Iran, saking how they could worship after they've completed their long prison sentences, International Christian Concern reported. Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi, and Zaman Saheb Fadaie were once arrested after being accused of "acting against national security," but they were merely participating in a house church. While Iran recognizes churches for Christians of Armenian and Assyrian descent, it discriminates against Persian converts, leaving them no place to worship.
"After these five years, when I am released, will you put me back in prison again because I continue to believe in Christ?" Babak and Behnam asked in a video they recorded while in prison. "Will I be separated from my family again? Will I still be threatened with exile?"
The Iranian Christian converts lamented in their letter that there was a "big gap between the written law and the practice of ignoring many Christians [namely Persian-speaking Christians] and their basic rights," including "the right to have an official church building." Saheb, who is one of the three who wrote and signed the letter, has been imprisoned since July 2018 after his sentence was reduced to six years.