Sunday, 18th November 2018
For the last three years, Market Drayton Churches Together have organised a united time of prayer on the Saturday of the IDOP weekend. This year we are meeting from 10:00 am till 1:00 pm on Sat 17th November, in St. Mary’s Parish Rooms.
This time will be split into three sessions with a short break between each one. In each hour we will pray for a different country where Christians are currently being persecuted. Printed and on-screen information will be available on the day about the situation in each place.
Recently, Christians have been encouraged by the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s judgement which has acquitted Asia Bibi of blasphemy after she was held in jail for ten years under a death sentence passed by a lower court. The situation for her, her family and the whole country, however, remains tense. As soon as the judgement was announced, militant Muslims blockaded the roads in several regions – in defence, as they perceive it, of their prophet’s honour. The government had already put the police and security forces on high alert to protect key locations. That evening, recently elected PM Imran Khan broadcast to the nation on the state-owned PTV channel. According to one English language newspaper, DAWN, he warned the “agitators” not to “clash with the state.” Both the Court’s written judgement and Khan’s speech emphasised that their decision was entirely in line with the Quran and sunnah.
Whatever happens on the streets over coming weeks, it is widely acknowledged that Asia Bibi and her family will not be able to stay in the country for fear of reprisals. The whole family, including her five daughters, two of whom are married, will need to find asylum in a safer country. Indeed, unless there is a significant acceptance of the verdict by militant Muslim groups, the judges, her lawyer and politicians including the PM will all need extra protection. A small percentage of the population in Pakistan identify as Christian, and they have been treated harshly by the Muslim majority for many years. Many of them are very poor and if there is a backlash against the decision, it is possible that they too will experience a rise in persecution.
In China, the last year has seen increased persecution of several minorities, Christians included. Recently the BBC carried a reports on the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in the north western province of Xinjiang. In the last few months it has also carried occasional reports (March & April) on the persecution of Christians in many parts of the country. These began to increase when the state demanded that crosses be removed from unregistered church buildings, but the pressure has escalated since March 2018, when the party-controlled National People’s Congress passed a set of constitutional amendments including removal of term limits for the president and vice president. This enhanced President Xi Jinping’s hold on power, and now registered churches are now being forced to remove crosses and have their meetings monitored by both CCTV and informers in the congregations. From February this year children have been banned from attending any religious event, and in some places the government has forced “house guests” into Christians’ homes so they can report on their conversations and activities.
By September, over four hundred Christians leaders had signed a “Public Joint Statement” defending their religious freedom. Amongst other things, they declare, “For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses – even the loss of our freedom and our lives.” It is a must read for anyone who wants to know the heart of those who are in the front-line of God’s kingdom at this time. (Printable version available in resources.)
There are many other countries where Christians find themselves abused and killed for bearing the name of Christ. Over recent months we have prayed for them in countries as dispersed as Nigeria, Kurdistan, India, Somalia, Rwanda, Comoros, Colombia, Myanmar, Iran and Iraq, but others could have been included. (An archive of the reports informing our prayers can be found on our P4PC Recent Reports page.)
You are encouraged to join us on Saturday, 17th November to support our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ through your prayers.
Below are some resources about the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) which you may find helpful. These include PDF versions of poster & flyers for the Market Drayton Morning of Prayer.
To save these videos to your device, please right click on the link and choose “Save as” or similar.
Text of Public Joint Statement by Chinese Christian Leaders
Two version are available in A4 & A5 formats.
Or click on the image to the right for a smaller graphic suitable for websites and newsletters.