In celebrating Pentecost, the day the Church of Christ was birthed, we want to stand with and for all those who are part of the persecuted church. We hear frequent stories of incredible suffering, cost and sacrifice, and all of this is being exacerbated since the Covid-19 pandemic.
I want to draw your attention to two countries today that we can pray for, but please also pray for other parts of the world. As we thank God afresh for our religious freedom, we pray in earnest for those who don’t have it. ‘Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.’ (Hebrews 13v3)
The 2020 World Watch List revealed that 1 in 8 Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith, a figure that has risen in recent years.
North Korea has been the No. 1 most dangerous country for Christians for 19 consecutive years. Christians are spied on, abused, and imprisoned for their faith. Open Doors estimates that 50,000 secret believers live within the walls of the country’s intricate prison system.
North Korea is often in the news for the political actions and human rights violations of its regime. There is serious concern that a COVID-19 outbreak would lead to devastating results—in a country with little healthcare and dilapidated hospitals. So far, North Korea has yet to confirm any cases. “I humbly request your prayers for the North Korean people—my people,” A former prisoner shares. “Pray for the vision to open the hearts to care for the people they lead, particularly the children and the elderly.”
Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year. Several states in India have adopted anti-conversion laws, and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party – the ruling political party) have made it clear that they would like to make these laws nationwide. Such laws are often used as an excuse to disrupt church services and harass Christians and make it incredibly dangerous for Christians to share their faith with others.
Hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians in India are being severely affected. As previously shared, the lockdown is having a devastating effect on the huge number of Indians who are daily wage labourers and now can’t get food. As another Open Doors partner shared, “In the slum areas people are now totally dependent upon the food being distributed by the government and social organisations. We constantly receive calls and messages from Christian communities where people have no food for their children or family members. It is heart-breaking to hear about the difficulties our brothers and sisters are going through”.
India’s poorest communities – where many of the country’s Christians live – are also particularly vulnerable to the virus. There’s no space for social distancing in a slum, and hygiene levels are always low. “Masks and sanitisers would be a luxury for them,” says an Open Doors partner. “They don’t have even one proper set of clothes to cover their bodies, nor soap to wash their hands.”
In many cases, even before the lockdown, Christians in India were denied access to water, education, or government rations on the basis of their faith. In Jharkhand, for instance, Christians were made to use a river used for sewerage for their drinking water. In another town, Hindu extremists put a picture of a Hindu god on the local water pump for drinking water and said Christians couldn’t use it. This will only get worse during this current crisis. Please remember them in prayer.
This article was complied with information from Open Doors - https://www.opendoorsuk.org/