Praying for the persecuted church

The Church of Ireland’s Council for Mission has launched a prayer appeal to support persecuted Christians around the world. The council’s secretary, the Revd Patrick Burke, explains its approach.

The time has come for Christians in the safety and comfort of the West to speak out about what their brothers and sisters are facing in other parts of the world, and to speak out strongly and keep speaking out until the violence ends.

The suffering of Christians around the world is truly shocking. Open Doors estimates that over 100 million Christians are being persecuted globally. Last year, at least 7,100 Christians were killed for their faith and over 2,000 churches were attacked or confiscated. As these crimes take place in countries either ravaged by war or under oppressive regimes, the true figures could be much higher.

The Church of Ireland Council for Mission’s prayer appeal to support persecuted Christians follows a resolution by our General Synod in May which expressed solidarity with brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith and committed to supporting them in prayer.

In speaking out, we want to begin with prayer. We are God’s people and it is only right that all we do has its beginning by calling upon Almighty God. We are asking all clergy to include this issue in their intercessions at public worship every Sunday, and all Christian people to include it in their private devotions every day. We are also encouraging members of the Church of Ireland to become more informed about persecution through the work of organisations such as Open Doors and the Church’s associated missionary societies.

CMS Ireland has close partnerships with the Diocese of Egypt and the Dioceses of Ibba, Kajo-Keji, Maridi and Yei (in South Sudan). Its Firm Foundations initiative sponsors theological training in both countries and in Ethiopia and Uganda for church leaders who minister in contexts of persecution. Crosslinks similarly supports theological training in Egypt and Pakistan and asks for prayers for safety and opportunities to work effectively where teaching the Gospel is not tolerated. USPG regularly encourages prayer for persecuted Christians in Egypt and Pakistan.

Prayer changes communities and nations. It is our hope that this appeal – alongside other initiatives in the coming months – will encourage Christians experiencing persecution and inspire the wider Church to deepen its love for our brothers and sisters who are under threat because of their faith in Jesus Christ.