What if the World Hated You?

Persecution of Christians is at an all-time high. Thus, the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) is a time set apart to remember the persecuted and suffering church. In this article, you will (1) learn why IDOP is so desperately needed; (2) find a wake-up call to the American church; and (3) discover a plethora of free resources for your International Day of Prayer activities.

by William L. Nowell

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first ... If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also.
Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, circa 33 AD

Imagine you're denied basic utilities such as electricity and running water. Then imagine you're fired from your job. Also, imagine being threatened, physically assaulted, imprisoned, and brutally murdered. Now imagine you suffered all these horrific injustices simply because you are a Christian. For many of us in America, it's difficult imagining anyone hated and persecuted to this extent for their Christian faith. Nevertheless, for millions of Christians around the world, everything I've asked you to imagine is part of their everyday struggle to survive. No imagination required!

Man praying on IDOP

What is the purpose of the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP)? IDOP exists to unite Christians worldwide in prayer for the persecuted and suffering church. Every year, hundreds of millions of Christians endure persecution for their faith. These downtrodden brothers and sisters in Christ need our prayers, and they need our tangible support.

According to James, the half-brother of Yeshua (Jesus), “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” So imagine how much more powerful and effective are the prayers of millions of righteous people. But why imagine when you can unite with the global Christian community on the International Days of Prayer? Will you commit to pray for persecuted Christians on the International Days of Prayer?

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Suffering Church Action Week (SCAW) runs from October 29 through November 5, 2017. And the International Days of Prayer (IDOP) are Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5, 12, and 19. Mark your calendars!

A Lesson from the Life of Nehemiah

As we approach the International Days of Prayer (IDOP), there is much we can learn from the prayer life of Nehemiah. As the king's cupbearer, Nehemiah lived the comfortable life of a high official in the royal household. Nevertheless, he felt a connection to his people in a far distant land. Thus, he took it upon himself to inquire about their well-being. Then upon learning of their appalling condition, he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed before the God of heaven—for days. In fact, his prayers continued day and night for four months!

How would Nehemiah view the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church? It is likely that he would view IDOP as merely a starting point of continual prayer. And so, with Nehemiah's attitude in mind, I propose a challenge. Nehemiah prayed for four months, but I propose a simpler 30-day challenge.

A 30-Day Challenge: First, learn where Christians experience crushing persecution by using the 2017 World Watch List . Then, knowing the immensely high cost of following Christ in these nations, do this. Select any nation and commit to pray daily for it. But most of all, pray for its Christians who are suffering for their faith. So, will you take the 30-day challenge?

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Praying for the Persecuted

How then should we pray for the persecuted church? Yeshua (Jesus) taught us to pray for those who persecute us. That is, we should pray for their salvation. After all, it is God's will that all people be saved. However, there is another side to prayer. For instance, consider the martyr's prayer found in Revelation 6:9-11.

How did these brothers and sisters in Christ—killed for their faith—pray? Did they pray, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they've done.” No, on the contrary, they prayed for judgment and vengeance. They prayed, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10) And how did God respond to such an “unloving” prayer? Did He rebuke them? No, instead He gave them white robes of righteousness and told them to wait a little longer.

What can we conclude from the martyr's prayer? It's OK to pray that God destroys those who persecute the saints, all the while refusing to repent of their evil ways. And though we should first pray for their salvation, we must not forget that the Lord said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19)

From Faith to Action

You've prayed, now what's next? We know that Nehemiah was indeed a man of prayer. And we know that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) However, Nehemiah merged his prayers with actions to accomplish what many thought impossible. The suffering church needs both our prayers and our tangible support.

There are many ways to tangibly support the persecuted church. Clearly, financial donations to organizations such as Open Doors , Barnabas Aid , and Voice of the Martyrs do much good. But, there are other ways to tangibly support persecuted Christians; some cost no more than a postage stamp, and others cost nothing at all.

The Nigerian government will not implement meaningful protections for Christians affected by Islamic terror attacks without pressure from the outside. You can help if you Sign the Petition!

Do you want to learn more about the worldwide plight of persecuted Christians and what you can do to help them? Then read my previous articles for IDOP and other related articles.

Stay Informed

We can pray more effectively for persecuted Christians if we have the latest breaking news concerning them. So, to find up-to-date news and information about persecuted Christians, use news sources such as the ones below.

Resources for IDOP

Download free IDOP resource kits for your International Days of Prayer activities from the following sites.

Unity in Christ

Together as One

We must always remember how God sees the church. He sees us as one body of Believers, not as a persecuted church and one having the freedom to worship. For that reason, we ought to view ourselves as one united body of Believers in Christ, not as two. And since we are one, it's only reasonable that we stand united in solidarity with our persecuted family in the Lord.

The IDOP is the perfect time for the international Christian community to mobilize in prayer and action on behalf of the persecuted church. For persecuted Believers, their struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil. And so, with this in mind, we ought to be alert and continually pray for all the Lord's people. (See Ephesians 6:12-13, 18) However, in addition to our prayers, the persecuted church needs our tangible support. According to Galatians 6:9-10, we must not become weary of doing good. Instead, as we have the opportunity, we ought to do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of Believers.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away ... I will be their God, and they will be My people.” (Revelation 21:4, 7)

Three Crosses