Christians attend Sunday service in the Virgin Mary Church at Samalout Diocese in Al-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, May 3, 2015. Copts have long complained of discrimination under successive Egyptian leaders and Sisi’s actions suggested he would deliver on promises of being an inclusive president who could unite the country after years of political turmoil. However, striking out at extremists abroad might prove easier than reining in radicals at home. Orthodox Copts, the Middle East’s biggest Christian community, are a test of Sisi’s commitment to tolerance, a theme he often stresses in calling for an ideological assault on Islamist militants threatening Egypt’s security. (PHOTO: REUTERS/STRINGER)
A persecution watchdog group is warning believers that statistics suggest a Christian is martyred for their faith every five minutes somewhere around the world.
As part of this year’s International Day of Prayer, which falls on Nov. 8, Christian Freedom International is encouraging all Christian churches to join them in praying for the safety of those who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
“I encourage you to pray for Persecuted Believers,” CFI president Jim Jacobson said in a statement shared with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
“They are your Christian family throughout the world. Pray for their safety; that they would be emboldened to continue sharing the Gospel even in the face of persecution; that their persecutors would also come to know Christ as they observe the courageous witness of these believers.”
CFI is preparing for the prayer event by offering a free resource kit for churches, which includes posters and bulletin inserts, Sunday school curriculum suggestions, Bible verses speaking about persecution, and other materials.
A number of persecution watchdog groups and activists have used the estimate that a Christian is martyred for their faith every five minutes, including sociologist Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Introvigne said back in June 2011 that every year at least 105,000 people are killed simply because of their faith as Christians — though that number is likely to have grown in the past year with the rise of the Islamic State terror group.
“If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he said in 2011 at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, according to Zenit.org.
Similar statistics from Caritas Italiana, a charity helping persecuted Christians throughout the world, notes that there are as many as 100 million followers of Christ, along with other religious minorities, who are being targeted for their beliefs.
Beside the widespread persecution throughout the Middle East and Africa, somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are also being held in detention camps in North Korea, where Christianity is illegal, the charity said.
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors CEO and President David Curry told CP back in October 2014 that it is important for Christians to prepare for and get together on the annual International Day of Prayer.
“I think it’s important considering all that has happened in the last year, from Iraq to Syria, to the issues of persecution in North Korea; that we have a time here in America to come together and pray as one body of believers for the people who are part of our family, who are persecuted.”