By Carl Stagner
Christians in Western culture may not fully appreciate the cost of Christianity, but those who put their lives on the line in other parts of the world, just to share their faith or simply gather together, understand. Depending on the source, the numbers of believers imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed may vary, but one thing is clear—the need for our prayerful support of the persecuted church is tremendous. After Church of God leaders in Texas proposed a motion during General Assembly 2019 in Orlando to ask all local Church of God congregations to set aside a Sunday each November to pray specifically for the persecuted church around the world, overwhelming approval followed.
Citing the 245 million Christians internationally who face serious persecution, “Motion Five” outlined the statistics on persecution, scriptures that instruct believers to demonstrate concern and care for the suffering and mistreated, and concluded with a resolution to pray and educate. Following discussion on the floor of the General Assembly, it was determined that any Sunday each November could be selected by local congregations to set aside for the purpose of prayer. In years past, ecumenical leadership of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church set aside the first or second Sunday of November. This year, most prominent ministries that address the needs of the persecuted church are advocating for the first Sunday of the month, which is November 3. Read the full text of the motion here.
But prayer is only the beginning. The resolution approved by the General Assembly further asks that “congregations and leaders make an effort to educate the church about Christian persecution during the month of this event.”
Jim Lyon later reflected on the resolution in a post-Convention article. “The statistics are sobering, the suffering is real, the cost of following Jesus can be very high,” he writes. “…Think about marking your November calendar this week to embrace and follow through with this call to the whole Movement.”
Resources to aid the local church in the official observation of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church are readily available for download. Learn more at www.persecution.com/idop, www.idop.ca, and www.releaseinternational.org/idop. Learn more about the international presence and work of the Church of God at www.chogglobal.org.