“Honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ,” (Philippians 2:29-30). Those are the words of the Apostle Paul as he sent a brave friend to visit a group of Christians. Like those first century Christians, we can honour our brave persecuted Christian family by joining them in prayer.

Some of us may have heard the story of Hae Woo, a brave North Korean Christian, who once planted a church in a labour camp. In 2018, after speaking at a Christian festival in the UK with Open Doors, she gave out pairs of socks to some of us younger people. I treasure these socks in a box under my desk, especially since they have been given by someone who knows what it’s like to suffer in freezing cold conditions. They are printed with the words: Adversity does teach who your real friends are.”

As winter approaches

Despite the difficult winter approaching us, let’s be friends from afar with persecuted Christians around the world. Seeing how God works in places of extreme persecution will remind us how simple it is for us in the UK to bring up Jesus in a conversation. We have much to learn from stories of costly faith, which demonstrate the priceless love of Christ. Paul shared his experiences with his Christian friends even when they were far apart, reminding them that they are engaged in the same conflict” (Philippians 3:29 – 30). Paul wanted Christians to know about his trials, and participate in Christ’s sufferings.

A pandemic won’t stop us being family

Lockdowns have separated many of us from our family and friends. As we feel the weight of this, let’s pray for those being persecuted by their own families, or those who have lost loved ones due to persecution. We fulfil Jesus’ words (Mark 10:29 – 30) when we act as true brothers and sisters to our persecuted family, not just in heaven but in this present age”. 

As we pray with them, we are being a true family, one that neither a lockdown nor persecutions can break down. God used Paul, a broken man, who once hunted Christians, to love and galvanise the scattered church. Surely God can use anyone, including the lockdown-weary church in the UK, to continue this movement. 

Paul faithfully stayed in touch with his far-flung Christian friends. Simply hearing that their faith was strong was what gave him life in hard times (1 Thessalonians 3:8). We too will be rallied and emboldened as we hear stories of faith.

They need our support more than ever”

Globally, attacks against churches have risen by 500 per cent between 2019 and 2020, according to Open Doors’ World Watch List. Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, and host of IDOP Online, says, The Bible says that If one part suffers, every part suffers with it’. IDOP Online gives us an opportunity to unite to pray for our brothers and sisters across the world who are suffering for their faith. They need our prayers and support more than ever. I would encourage every Christian in the UK to connect into the online IDOP event so that together we can proclaim that Jesus is the hope of the nations.”

Hear them, honour them

As they set an example of standing up for Jesus, demonstrating His priceless love, we can learn from their stories, pray with them, and amplify their voices. UK church, let’s step up, by giving our undivided attention. Giving up an hour on a Sunday evening to listen to their stories and pray with them, we will continue to honour them and obey God’s word as a united church. 

God builds His church on a rock and the gates of hell will not stand against it, so let’s join up with His worldwide building project. The Evangelical Alliance is delighted to play our part by hosting this event and working together with other organisations.

IDOP Online, hosted by the Evangelical Alliance, is a key opportunity to listen and pray with our risk-taking family of Christians around the world. Open Doors, Release International and CSW will share stories of faith from India, China and Nigeria. Together with these organisations, we form part of the Religious Liberty Commission, advocating for the rights of Christians.

What you can do

  1. Join the online International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on Sunday, 15 November 2020, 7.30 – 8.30pm. Click here to register free.
  2. Stay up-to-date with your persecuted family by signing up to updates from these organisations, or reading their websites: Open Doors, Release International and CSW. Discern if God might want you to support the persecuted church financially.
  3. Invite your MP to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List launch event so that they can hear about the plight of persecuted Christians. 

God builds His church on a rock and the gates of hell will not stand against it, so let’s join up with His worldwide building project.