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03 January 2014

Blackout weekend to give persecuted Church a voice

By Jacqueline Laing

Right now an average of 200 million Christians are being persecuted, even martyred, for their faith. That's why international charity Open Doors is organising a 21st century sponsored fast from our favourite technology.

Blackout, a 48hr campaign, seeks to highlight and provide insight into the world of the persecuted and encourage people to pray and act.

Blackout, 28 to 30 March 2014 is a call to use our freedom productively by switching off from all that is freely available, particularly social media and the internet. It is a call to lend a voice to the voiceless.

Spearheading the campaign, Emma Worrall, Open Doors UK youth and student team leader, sees the weekend as an "opportunity for us to turn down the volume for a couple of days to limit our lifestyles - and to stand with the silent heroes in the persecuted Church.

"The Church was never meant to be quiet. Yet in places around the world, followers of Jesus are being hushed up, beaten, tortured, abused. They are being silenced".

Blackout 2014 will kick into action from 5 January with a national tour of events in order to raise awareness and recruit participants in the run up to the Blackout weekend.

Although youth led, Blackout is open to any individual or church who wishes to make a 'massive noise' by being offensively silent. Recent estimates suggest that there are, on average, 100 Christians killed for their faith each month in more than 50 countries - sometimes for reasons other than the proclamation of Jesus.

Often persecution arises because of Christian ideas around ethical trade, racial assumptions and religious difference. However many cases centre on the supposed affinity Christianity has towards Western libertarian ideas, political and social values.

North Korea is a prime example and one of the most prolific offenders. It is number 1 on the Open Doors world watch list of countries where the persecution of Christians is most severe. It is thought that around 60,000 Christians suffer daily in prison camps for rebelling against Korean ideology.

In other countries, like Afghanistan, Christians cannot meet in public and in honeymoon destination the Maldives, all citizens must subscribe to Islam otherwise forfeit the right to citizenship, a vote or public office.

CEO of Open Doors Eddie Lyle, talks of an opportunity to "strengthen and serve the Church in places where following Jesus comes at a real cost..Those who take part will be inspired and challenged by the stories of relentless passion for Jesus, and join the ranks of give-it-all followers of Jesus."

To ensure that the silenced are heard, use your freedom and join the big Blackout. Visit Blackout 2014 for info, stories and resources.