Pray for the Persecuted
21st - 27th February 2021
Each week until Easter, please join us in prayer for brothers and sisters living in the top 10 most dangerous places to be a Christian. We will focus our prayers each week on those living in different persecuted nations around the world. Across the globe, more than 340 million Christians - one in every eight believers - experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus.
Sharing in Christ's suffering is a theme in the New Testament and Peter wrote these words,
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Persecution type: Islamic oppression
Estimated number of Christians: 4,052,000
How Christians are suffering: Christians in Pakistan are generally despised by the Muslim majority. Many Christians live in great poverty and are restricted to dangerous, dirty, low-status jobs, such as cleaning sewers. Those who have converted from Islam face the greatest levels of persecution and violence. Christian churches do exist but they face increasing threats of violence against them. Even within the judicial system, the testimony of a Muslim will be given greater weight over that of a Christian in a court of law. As a result, Christians rarely get justice in court and can be easily targeted.
A Story from Pakistan: Each year, an estimated 700 Christian women and girls are kidnapped, forcibly converted, and married to Muslims. Maria Shahbaz was only 13 years old when she was abducted at gunpoint on 28 April 2020 and forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim. Her birth certificate was shown in court to prove she had been too young to marry, but her abductor submitted a fake marriage certificate giving her age as 19. Despite this, Lahore’s High Court ruled that Maria willingly converted to Islam and was legally married.
Two weeks later she managed to escape and re-joined her own family. She has begun legal proceedings to overturn her forced marriage and forced conversion.
Prayer: Father, we pray for Maria, our sister in Christ, who has faced unimaginable suffering at such a young age. Thank you Lord for her faith and for those who have experienced similar circumstances. Please surround her and others like her with your love, your strength, and your presence. We pray that justice might be done even if the odds of such are stacked against it. We ask that you would protect Christian women and girls and cause these types of acts to become intolerable within this nation. As Easter approaches, please protect Pakistan’s churches as this is when terrorist attacks have happened in the past. Father, might the witness of your church in that land be faithful and strong. And in the face of hostility and derision, would you give your people grace and love for those who persecute them. Amen.
Open Doors: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/pakistan/
Barnabas Fund: https://barnabasfund.org/countries/Pakistan/
If you would like to pray as a family, then Open Doors have a free World Watch List pack for children and you can set off together on a journey of prayer through the year. Each week, children can colour in a flag in the prayer passport, pray for that country and put a sticker on that country on the map. These can be ordered from https://www.opendoorsuk.org/products/product/wwl-21-childrens-pack
This post is based on a very helpful blog post by Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, entitled "The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2021"