Pray With The Persecuted
Last year, over 5,700 people in New Zealand and Australia united to pray with our persecuted brothers and sisters for International Day of Prayer (IDOP).
This year, on 3 November, we’re asking groups and churches to unite in prayer once again, as one body and one Church.
By praying with the persecuted church, we strengthen them as they stand strong in the face of persecution and be the light of Jesus in their communities. In turn, their stories of bold faith encourage us to be courageous Christians in our own context.
Rohan* is a Christian from India who, 10 years ago, established the first church in his village.
“It slowly started to grow,” Rohan remembered. “Initially there was no problem, but then we faced opposition. Hindu extremists used to stop meetings and say that Christ is a foreign God who doesn’t belong in India.”
One night, the threats turned into action, and a group of extremists burned down Rohan’s church and everything in it.
Rohan said, “By the time we got there, everything was burnt to ashes. I was stunned. I could smell petrol and liquid chemicals.”
But Rohan and his church refused to stop meeting together. Since they no longer had a building, the congregation met in a tent for worship services.
“I never thought about giving up,” Rohan said. “I trusted that God would act. My fellow pastors encouraged me. They reminded me that God is faithful to the persecuted church.”
Since the new building was completed, the congregation has doubled in size to 60 families, all striving to be the light of Jesus to their community. Rohan is now looking to plant even more churches in the area.
“God’s heart longs for the people of India,” Rohan said. “Even amidst persecution, He is making His people stand strong.”
Pray With Rohan
Rohan knows that God’s heart even longs for those who persecute His people.
“As God has forgiven us, so we have forgiven our persecutors,” he said. “I have wholeheartedly forgiven them, and so have the other members of my church. And we are praying for their salvation. It is my vision and desire that everybody should know Christ.”
Sellam’s son, Kevin, was just nine years old when he lost his life in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. As eight bombs exploded across the country, including three at churches, hundreds of believers were injured or killed, leaving many families grieving the lost.
“People liked Kevin,” Sellam said. “He was very social. He talked to everyone.”
Sellam’s daughter, Dina, was with Kevin in the Sunday school room during the attack.
“I lost seven friends that day,” Dina remembered. “I finished eating breakfast [at the church], and I was drinking water at the other side of the room when the explosion happened. Kevin had also finished eating, but he was climbing the stairs. This is where he died.”
Though she escaped with her life, Dina was injured by shrapnel during the attack, which went through her cheek and broke her teeth.
Sellam’s eldest son was adjusting his bike stand outside when the explosion happened. He carried Dina to the hospital after realising that nothing could be done for Kevin.
“We are comforted knowing that my son is with God,” said Sellam, “But it still hurts to lose him. What God spoke to me is that we have to prepare to go to Him. We’ll meet Kevin again with God someday.”
Pray With Sellam
The Sri Lanka bombings changed thousands of lives in an instant, including that of Sellam and his family.
Pray that those who were injured will be completely healed and that those who lost loved ones will find strength and comfort in the Lord.
An Update From IDOP 2018
Last year, Christians across the country came together to pray with the persecuted church, including Pastor Edward and his wife Rana who lead a church in Damascus, Syria.
“The more Christians leave, the more extremism will develop in the country,” he said.
Last year, Pastor Edward asked the global body of Christ to pray with them that they could remain in Syria and be the light of Jesus to their community.
“As ambassadors of Christ, we need to spread the values of heaven. Even if it is costly, we need to stay there so the light can stay there,” he said. “We have this burden and this privilege to be ambassadors for Christ.”
In 2019, the work continues for Pastor Edward and the church as many continue to struggle to rebuild their lives after years of war.
“I want to make sure you know that the Lord has answered your prayers. We are still there by the power of those prayers and your support.
“For our prayer supporters, people who really supported us through the crisis, I want you to know that this meant a lot to us…we are really the body of Jesus Christ and we feel for each other and we support each other.”
The church in Syria has many things to overcome as they rebuild in one of the most difficult places to be a Christian.
“We still have challenges as a result of the crisis. People are in grief… The challenges now are not the bombs, but the brokenness inside the people.”
Pray With Pastor Edward
Pray for Pastor Edward and his wife Rana, as well as their congregation and leaders.
“Prayer is a very major and a very important thing. We can see that divine intervention happens along with prayers. It helps the people who pray, and it helps the people we pray for.”
There are many things that try to stop us from following Jesus. But we can overcome them, together. That’s why we stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters for IDOP.
To read more stories of how you can pray with the persecuted church, sign up for International Day of Prayer and join together as one body and one Church on 3 November 2019.
*Name changed for security purposes.