The Christian human-rights group Barnabas Fund is calling for Christians in the United States to make Friday, Nov. 1, a day of prayer for persecuted Christians.
The date is just two days before the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Barbara Tarvid, a spokeswoman for the organization, told WND in an interview that the date and time of the call for Friday prayer is intentional.
“Barnabas Aid called for this day of prayer on purpose because we want to ensure that awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians around the world gets more attention,” Tarvid said.
“We want Christians to spend the day Friday becoming more familiar with the countries around the world that are heavy persecutors. That way Christians are more informed and there’s more awareness,” Tarvid said.
The organization explains a prayer guide is available to churches that desire to participate.
“We are very thankful for being able to provide you with Barnabas’ Prayer Focus Update each month… In light of this, we would like to share our plans for Barnabas Aid’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church that takes place on Friday 1 November during Suffering Church Action Week,” the group explained.
“We are urging believers around the world to set time aside on this day to remember our suffering Christian family before the Lord. We have produced a dedicated prayer guide for the Day of Prayer that provides examples and prayer needs of Christian children across the world,” the announcement said.
Tarvid adds that the prayer guides and the Friday day of prayer will prepare Christians to join in the chorus of prayer on Sunday.
“This means that Christians will know what to pray about on Sunday. They’ll know more about the specific countries around the world where their brothers and sisters in Christ are undergoing horrendous persecution,” Tarvid said.
“We believe there will be more powerful praying,” Tarvid also said.
Tarvid says that the two suicide bombers in Peshawar, Pakistan, and the attack on the shopping mail in Nairobi, Kenya, ironically have helped the cause of the persecuted.
“Absolutely there’s more momentum because two major events coming so close together brought a lot of attention to the situation of Christians in those countries. The attacks made more people aware of how badly Christians have in the rest of the world,” Tarvid said.
Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra agrees.
Dykstra told WND in an interview that effective intercession for the severity of the situation is only possible when Christians get a picture of the entire Middle East .
“When we take a look at what is happening in the Middle East – places such as Syria , Iraq and Egypt – regarding the persecution of Christians by Muslim fanatics, we in the West need to get down on our knees in prayer,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra adds that the survival of Middle Eastern Christians is in the balance.
“At stake is the future of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa . According to the Pew Forum, Christians now only make up 4 percent of the Middle Eastern inhabitants. A century ago it was 20 percent. The Pew report also says just 0.6 percent – fewer than 13 million – of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians live in the Middle East and North Africa . The region is 93 percent Muslim,” Dykstra said.
“An Open Doors contact in the Middle East said earlier this month that if the forced flight of Christians from Iraq continues at its current pace, there might not be any Christians left in the country by 2020,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra adds that now is the time for action.
“We can not allow the extinction of Christians in the Middle East to happen on our watch! We cannot be silent! We cannot stick our heads in the sand! Please pray for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East and all around the world. Their No. 1 request is to pray for them,” Dykstra said.
“Advocate for them. Write your government representatives to stand up for religious freedom not only in the U.S., but around the world,” Dykstra also said.
Dykstra adds that the recent Pakistani and Kenyan attacks are only the most visible signs of the crisis.
“In the wake of news regarding the horrific assault in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and the attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, many may wonder, ‘What is this world coming too?’ Some may respond in anger, others in fear,” Dykstra said.
Open Doors USA is one of the Christian human rights groups that has promoted the main International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church . This year the day is Sunday, Nov. 3.
“Hundreds of thousands of Christians from around the world will unite to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church . IDOP is a global day of intercession on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide,” Dykstra said.
“Its primary focus is uniting Christians to pray and act for those who face imprisonment, harassment, disenfranchisement and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ,” Dykstra said.
“Believers in the United States can join in lifting up our brothers and sisters in Christ,” he added.
WND reported in January that Open Doors’ list of the12 leading persecutors put North Korea in the top spot in 2012 and 2013.
Just possessing a Bible still can be cause for a death penalty in North Korea , so it’s no surprise that the hermit kingdom remains No. 1 on this year’s World Watch List of the world’s most notorious persecutors of Christians, a project assembled by Open Doors USA.
The rest of the top 12 nations on the Open Doors World Watch list, in order, are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, Syria, and Sudan.