On November 4, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Concerned Women for America (CWA) will join thousands of Christians all over the world in praying for those who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Will you join and pray with us? As Americans, God has blessed us with a country abounding in prosperity and founded on freedom of religion, belief, and conscience — all of which we enjoy and continue to fiercely defend. But, in our busy and full lives, sometimes we forget that our sisters and brothers in Christ around the world are being persecuted for the same beliefs and endure political, economic, or social discrimination, beating, imprisonment, and even tortuous death.
According to a Pew Research Center report in 2015, Christians are “harassed”in more countries than any other religious groups in the world; Christians are harassed in a total of 128 countries, a number which increased from 108 in 2014. Harassment includes both social hostilities and government restrictions and takes many different forms, such as verbal or “physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination … in employment, education and housing.”
A pertinent example of growing harassment against Christians is in the People’s Republic of China. This week we learnedthat the Chinese government, in its escalating campaign to “Sinicize” religion and solidify loyalty to the Communist Party, has closed and raided churches in Beijing and several other provenances, burned Bibles, destroyed crosses, and forced Christians to sign statements renouncing their faith. Freedom House reportsthat since 2012, when Xi Jinping took over the Chinese Communist Party, religious persecution for all religion in China intensified. China’s 72 to 102 million Catholics and Protestants experience moderate to high levels of persecution, and protestants, who make up 60-70 million of China’s Christians, have in particular experienced a rise in government campaigns to remove their Christian crosses, demolish their churches, and punish their leaders and the human rights lawyers who defend them.
According to the U.S. Department of State, China has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern since 1999 under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for either “engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” As Secretary of State Pompeo commentedin the International Religious Freedom Report of 2017 about the state of religious freedom in China: “In China, the government tortures, detains, and imprisons thousands for practicing their religious beliefs.”
Like in China, all around the world the news reports and pictures of persecuted Christians can be overwhelming. Truly, it can be hard to understand what we can do individually, but this is why our prayers for the protection and freedom of our brothers and sisters are so important. Will you commit to prayer with us?
Throughout September and October, in anticipation of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 4, CWA will send you updates on persecuted Christians around the world. We will also offer weekly prayer suggestions that you, and your Bible study, prayer group, or church may use to join with us in prayer. At the end of October, CWA will sponsor an event at Capitol Hill dedicated solely to praying for our Christian brothers and sisters. We hope that you and your communities will join with us in agreement and “pray without ceasing.”
Dr. Shea Garrison, Vice President, International Affairs, Concerned Women for America