Written by Sherry
Friday, 02 November 2007 07:14
November 11 is the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
"The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it. We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray."
The IDOP is the largest prayer event of its kind in the world (so the website says but I'm thinking they probably aren't taking something like the World Youth Day in Rome or Manila into their calculations. In any case, WYD isn't an annual event) Over 100,000 local congregations in 130 nations take part. This is an event that few Catholics participate in but we can and should. Think how much larger it would be if Catholics, who make up 51% of the Christians in the world, participated? This would be a really useful form of ecumenism.
I like this FAQ from their website:
Why doesn’t the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church pray for all persecuted people regardless of their religious, political, or social affiliation?
As a human rights issue, the persecution of Christians dwarfs all other forms of religious injustice. It is beneficial to take advocacy for fellow believers who suffer for their faith as a starting point, as Christians living in free societies have been largely unaware of or silent to this increasing tragedy. As we gain a deeper understanding of the plight of our Christian family, we can also grow in knowledge about human rights issues affecting all people. A Christian’s compassion is not reserved only for fellow Christians, but is to be given to all who suffer injustice and oppression (Luke 12:29) and to those whose dark consciences press them to perpetrate evil (Matthew 5:44). Christians are encouraged to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).
As part of this day, Brother Andrew (well known in evangelical circles but almost unknown among Catholics) will be hosting a video broadcast called Secret Believers about secret Christians in Muslim countries. It is being broadcast through the Church Communication Network (to local evangelical congregations) and alas isn't being streamed on the internet as far as I can see. But it would be worth watching if you can catch it because Brother Andrew is a man who has spent his life walking on water and through walls.
Brother Andrew began taking Bibles to Christians behind closed borders in 1955. His international best-seller, God's Smuggler, chronicles the early days of life and ministry, detailing dangerous border crossings, KGB pursuits, and his courageous journey toward living radically for Jesus Christ. That work has since become Open Doors International, a ministry to the Persecuted Church in over 60 countries, providing literacy/vocational training, Bibles, and economic relief in some of the most dangerous countries in the world. Brother Andrew remains among the few Western leaders to travel to the Middle East as an ambassador for Christ, holding private meetings with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. In 1994, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. (Brother Andrew is Dutch.) In 1997, he was the recipient of the World Evangelical Fellowship’s Religious Liberty Award.
Aid to the Church in Need is the pontifically sponsored Catholic equivalent of Open Doors and a wonderful ministry to support.
In June of 2004, they sponsored "Forty Hours for the Suffering Church" in Rome Basilica of St. Anastasia. The “Forty Hours” will open with a Celebration of the Eucharist in the Greek Catholic Rite and close with a Celebration of the Eucharist in the Copt-Catholic Rite. In between, for forty consecutive hours there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, readings from Holy Scripture and meditation. Priests, religious and faithful from many different parts of the world are expected to gather for the prayers which in three-hour cycles will be dedicated to the Church on the different continents with meditations taken from Pope John Paul II’s relative post-synodal exhortations commented by ACN benefactors and collaborators.
What a wonderful idea! Why couldn't US Catholics do something similar in conjunction with the IDOP?
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.