When I think about the persecuted church, I’m overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness. I read stories of people being rejected by their communities due to their Christian faith, turned out by their families, imprisoned, forced into sexual enslavement and even brutally murdered, and I feel at a loss, not knowing what to say or do.

I often even struggle with what to pray. My heart breaks at the suffering that so many brothers and sisters face across the world for trusting Jesus, but channeling this into coherent prayer is difficult – not least because the gospel spreads quickest when under pressure, and I want as many souls as possible to be saved. 

Perhaps you can relate to much of what I’m saying? 

God hears our heart’s cry


The wonderful news is that in the face of our weakness and powerlessness, and often muddled mind and emotions, God’s power is made perfect. God sees our hearts and He hears the cry of His people for the persecuted church. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

This is just part of why the International Day of Prayer (IDOP), hosted by the Evangelical Alliance together with CSW, Release International and Open Doors UK, is such an invaluable call to action. We join together specifically to pray for our persecuted church family. Together, we can lift our voices in prayer to the one who is powerful and who knows exactly what our brothers and sisters need, and we will be heard. 

So click here to join me at 7.30 – 8.30pm on Sunday, 7 November for IDOP Online 2021.

In the lead-up to this online event, I would also encourage you, as I encourage myself, to reflect on how we can love and support our brothers and sisters who are daily counting the cost of following Jesus. In scripture, we see many ways that God is powerfully at work amongst the persecuted church and opportunities to align ourselves with Him – here are three: 

God will let nothing come between Him and His people.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37 – 39). 

Open Doors UK recently shared the story of Saad (not his real name), a believer in Afghanistan who says that he and his fellow Christians are already known to the Taliban. The list has been circulated with our names on it,” he said. On 24 September, a Taliban official declared Afghanistan’s return to executions, including Sharia punishments such as amputation, stoning and flogging. All Afghan Christians are converts from Islam. Leaving Islam is considered shameful and punishable by death. Our Afghani church family really are risking their lives by being faithful to Jesus. 

The persecuted church understands better than many of us that Jesus is of greater worth than all things in this life, because that is a choice that they make daily. We should honour their courageous faith by celebrating the truth that nothing can come between them and the love of God. In all the atrocity, breach of human rights and religious freedom, all the rejection from their own people, family and loved ones, we must hold precious the promise that God holds on tightly to those who are His. 

God uses our prayers to display His glory.

Often, prayer is the act of asking God to do what He has already promised to do; and yet, God invites us to partner with Him in His work. He invites us to confidently come before Him, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, so that we might be intimately involved in the expansion of His kingdom and care for His people. 

And even though God knows the name and face of each of His sons and daughters who risk their freedom and life for the sake of His name, and has each of their futures intrinsically mapped out, God still listens to our prayers. 

Our heavenly Father delights to hear the heart of His children allows us to see the fruit of this relationship when our prayers are answered: Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). We’re not to underestimate the power of prayer. 

God is building His church.

In the face of what can appear impossible opposition, we can be confident that God’s church will continue to grow, because He said it will. Matthew 16:18 says: On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Therefore, we should pay careful attention to the stories of our persecuted church family, as they set an example of what it means to stand up for Jesus and trust God as He builds His church. 

A call to action

Next month, we, the UK church, have an opportunity to channel the power of united prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters, believing that God’s purposes will prevail. So let’s take action together by: 

  • joining IDOP Online 2021 at 7.30 – 8.30pm on Sunday, 7 November 2021;
  • staying up to date with our persecuted family by signing up to updates from, and supporting, Open Doors UK, Release International and CSW; and
  • inviting our MP to read the Open Doors World Watch List Report so that they can understand the plight of persecuted Christians. 

"The persecuted church understands better than many of us that Jesus is of greater worth than all things in this life, because that is a choice that they make daily."