Struck down but not destroyed
As we observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) for 2023, our hearts are heavy with the rising tide of Christian persecution worldwide. From Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and beyond, over 360 million Christians now live in places where they face high levels of persecution, equating to one in seven Christians globally.
The statistics for Christian persecution are distressing. According to the World Watch List, 5,621 Christians were killed, over 2,100 churches were attacked, and more than 4,500 Christians were detained for their faith in 2022. These staggering numbers highlight the harsh reality that many believers endure daily – harassment, discrimination, wrongful imprisonment, and even death for their devotion to Christ.
However, as we gather in prayer for our persecuted brethren, we find hope and strength in the Scriptures. Paul, writing to the church in Corinth 2 says that “…we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” This powerful biblical text reminds us that though persecution may strike believers down, it does not destroy their faith. The resilience and unwavering trust in God displayed by our persecuted brothers and sisters serve as a testament to the enduring power of Christ in their lives. This verse encourages us to pray with empathy and fervency, knowing that in Christ, the persecuted find the strength to stand firm and persevere despite the adversities they face. It strengthens our resolve to lift them up in prayer, seeking God’s protection, comfort, and strength, and affirming our unity as one body in Christ across the globe.
Through the IDOP, we bring global attention to the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters. In places where they share our faith, they do not always share our freedoms, as 80 percent of religious persecution worldwide targets Christians. For over two decades, the IDOP has united millions of Christians in prayer for the persecuted. We recognize that their most urgent and basic need is for prayer. Hebrews 13:3 commands us to pray for those who are mistreated, understanding that their pain is our pain, and we are one in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:26).
This November, the World Evangelical Alliance calls upon the global church to join the IDOP in an expression of solidarity. Let us lift up our persecuted brethren, praying that the Holy Spirit would empower them to stand firm in their faith, obedient to Christ even amidst hardships. Furthermore, let us commit to supporting those on the frontlines of persecution, as they advance God’s Kingdom in the face of adversity. As noted by Spurgeon, prayer brings inner strength to God’s warriors and sends them forth to spiritual battle with their muscles firm and their armor in place. In the same manner, may our prayers and support be a source of strength to the persecuted, knowing that the global church stands united in solidarity, bound together by our shared faith in Jesus Christ!
In prayerful fellowship,