Christians worldwide are being called to prayer for persecuted Christians and to stay involved in the issue.
Sunday is the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church, and William Stark of International Christian Concern (ICC) tells OneNewsNow a recent Pew Research study shows that 75 percent of the world's population live in countries where faith is severely restricted. So he says the chief tool Christians have is prayer.
"Instead of just thinking about the persecuted Church as a mass of faceless victims that we should pity and somehow help, I also encourage people to think about how the persecuted Church are actually our equal brothers and sisters and people who can teach us about our own faith," Stark poses. "… [S]ometimes they're our spiritual mentors, in a way, because they've gone through so much and we haven't."
For example, Stark recalls a conversation he had with a Christian in India who was falsely accused of committing a murder and was serving a life sentence in prison.
"He told me that he actually is okay with being in prison [because he] and some of the other people who have been wrongly convicted [had] started a Bible study," the ICC spokesman shares. "And [he said] through that Bible study [they've] been able to witness Christ to people who would have never heard the gospel message ever."
He adds that ICC's IDOP kit makes it easy to find ways to implement prayer for the persecuted Church.
"This is something you can download personally. It's free," Stark reports. "It has … updates on what you can be praying for; it also has a small video about persecution -- what is it, where is it happening, along with other materials that can help people better understand the persecuted Church around the world."
While thousands of American churches will be participating this Sunday, Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs, who also hosts "Voice of the Martyrs Radio," heard on American Family Radio, hopes people will be motivated to pray for persecuted Christian churches on a regular basis.
Nettleton has met with leaders from and traveled to countries where Christians are most persecuted. He tells OneNewsNow one of their first prayer requests is convicting.
"We often think if they're being persecuted, if they're in jail, their first prayer request is going to be that the persecution will stop," he says. "Instead, what they ask us to pray for is that they will be faithful in spite of the persecution, in spite of the suffering that they have to go through."
Nettleton hopes the American churches' devotion to this topic will last longer than one day.
"We certainly hope that it's not a day that you mark off your calendar and then you're like, 'I'm done. I'll think about persecuted Christians again next November.' It needs to be a day that really is a launching pad -- a launching pad for us to pray every day for Christians who are suffering, as well as a launching pad for us to get involved," Nettleton says.
The Voice of the Martyrs has a resource for just that purpose.