Sunday 4th November is marked around the world as an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The reason for this date is that it is the Sunday closest to All Saints day. Organisations such as the Barnabas Fund, Open Doors, and Release International all provide resources for churches to use in their services and also in for Christians to use in their own devotions.
It is easy to forget in our busy, comfortable Western church lives that many of our brothers and sisters around the world suffer for their faith in ways that we cannot imagine.
There have been attacks upon churches and congregations in Kenya and Nigeria recently. The 30th September saw a grenade attack upon a Sunday School class meeting in an Anglican Church in Nairobi that killed a 9 year old boy and seriously injured several others.
Makset Djabbarbegenow is a church pastor held in a Kazakhstan jail facing extradition to his native Uzbekistan. The UN has declared that if Makset was returned to Uzbekistan he faces a jail sentence of upto 6 years in prison because of his leadership of an unregistered church in the city of Naklus (Karakakalpakstan the state of Naklus has no protestant churches registered as they are all considered illegal). Pastor Makset has confided that he was shaken by his arrest and asked the Lord to take this cross from him, now he says – ‘I pray that if this is from you, Lord, I will accept whatever you say. Just help me to carry it.’
Pastor Nadarkhani is an Iranian church leader many of us prayed for as he was imprisoned for his faith in Iran. Mercifully our prayers have been answered and he has been released but there are many other Christians who are in captivity in that country becasue of their faith. They need us to pray fro them and to lobby the Iranian government on their behalf. Some we know of are:
Serving a jail term in Ghezel Hesar Prison, Karaj, since May 2011 for ‘anti-government activity’. Pray for healing as he has suffered mistreatment and ill health in jail.
Maryam is a Muslim-background believer who was sentenced to two and a half years in December 2011 for being a member of an ‘illegal group’. She is understood to be in Evin prison, Tehran. Pray for God’s protection.
Given a three-year sentence in February in Kermanshah for holding illegal house church gatherings, evangelising Muslims and action against national security. He was allegedly denied the right to choose his own advocate or defend himself. Pray for strength to stand firm.