It was 20 years ago that a group of Canadian Christian agencies came together to start International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) Canada. Since then, many churches and individuals across Canada have come onboard with the concept of praying for our persecuted sisters and brothers around the world — and will mark this year’s International Day of Prayer on November 12.
“Pray for us” is the cry of persecuted Christians around the world. Today across the earth more than 200 million of them are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Each year, Christians in more than 130 countries stand in prayer with our persecuted sisters and brothers through IDOP. “If God Is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?” is the theme for this year's International Day of Prayer in Canada, based on Romans 8:31 and 32.
It is difficult for Canadians to imagine the day-to-day sufferings of those who live in countries where religious freedom is ignored by their governments or neighbours. Imagine facing threats of false accusation and imprisonment, injury and harm to you or your family, attacks on businesses and homes, and even threats of death—all because of your faith in Christ.
How do our brothers and sisters cope with such conditions? How can their faith remain strong when it costs them so much? God alone empowers them to do so.
Intercede International, where I work as Publications Manager, has been part of organizing IDOP Canada for almost 14 years. For myself and other staff, it has been and continues to be a privilege to participate in putting together the resource kit for IDOP each year.
Working with IDOP means producing resources each year which inform and provide prayer resources for churches, house groups and individual Christians. These resources include videos, suggested songs, testimonies of persecuted Christians from various countries, and creative ideas for churches to use. Once each kit is completed, it is stored on the website www.idop.ca,from which interested people can download those resources. IDOP encourages Canadian Christians to choose one Sunday each November to remember the persecuted church. But beyond that, IDOP partners encourage Christians to pray for the persecuted throughout the year.
IDOP Canada is a good example of how Christian agencies can work together for a good common goal. Each agency involved has agreed not to use IDOP as a fundraising tool for their agencies. Instead, they work together to encourage Canadian Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in various parts of the world. Currently, the IDOP partnership in Canada consists of Intercede, Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs Canada, and International Christian Response. In the past, agencies such as Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and The Bible League have also played important roles with IDOP.
I have been inspired by working with leaders such as Paul Johnson, the long-time Executive Director of Open Doors Canada who helped to start IDOP Canada 20 years ago. Sadly, Johnson died following a motorcycle accident near Calgary in September 2016. I had just been in touch with him the week before that to inquire about IDOP resources. Johnson was a pioneer with IDOP Canada. If there was any question of discontinuing IDOP in Canada, Johnson would respond, “IDOP will happen because it has to happen.” And it always has.
Johnson served faithfully as Executive Director of Open Doors Canada for 24 years. He was untiring in leading Open Doors Canada to meet the growing needs of Christians who are persecuted for their faith around the world, as Open Doors Canada reports on its website. Johnson’s heart was always to champion their faith and share their story nationwide to both encourage and excite Christians in Canada to understand that many believers around the world wake up facing the threat of persecution every day.
Another leader I appreciated working with was Glenn Penner, former Executive Director of Voice of the Martyrs Canada. His concern for the persecuted church and his sense of humour helped our planning meetings to come together well many times. Sadly, he passed away in January 2010 after suffering from cancer for seven years.
One of my favourite parts of working with IDOP is choosing the Suggested Songs. Since taking on that task, the Lord has inspired me to write a few songs related to the persecuted church and a musical drama called “Faith on the Front Line,” which has been included in this year’s IDOP resource kit.
I appreciate that my local church — Queen Street Baptist in St. Catharines, Ontario — has caught the vision of praying for the persecuted church, and has a church service each November including a focus on IDOP.
I would like to encourage you to take part in IDOP this year. Please consider individually or as a church praying for the persecuted church this November. Please remember to intercede often for persecuted Christians, as they suffer for their faith but remain faithful to their Lord and Saviour.Take Action