It has been estimated that around 360 million Christians – or one in seven - around the world face persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Earlier this year, the Church of England’s governing body, General Synod, unanimously backed a motion of support – brought by members from Lichfield Diocese – for the persecuted church and for all experiencing persecution because of their faith.
Christians are being urged to pray and offer other practical help to those facing persecution ahead of an international conference to promote the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London on 5 and 6 July. See the End The Persecution website for more information on advocacy and action around the conference.
Sunday 26 June is dedicated as the first day for a novena (nine days) of prayer prior to the conference. The same Sunday is also ‘International Day for victims of torture’.
We have brought together the following resources for churches praying and acting for the persecuted church:
- A liturgy for Praying for the Persecuted Church is available as a pdf (and also as a word .docx), specially written by the Revd Preb Chris Thorpe from St Andrew's Church Shifnal.
- The booklet 'Everyday Faith - Hidden Church' is available to download (and print), using the work of the Revd Sue Thomas of Southward Diocese.
- We are invited to pray the psalms during the novena as follows:
- Monday 27 June Psalm 75
- Tuesday 28 June Psalm 28
- Wednesday 29 June Psalm 140
- Thursday 30 June Psalm 66
- Friday 1 July Psalm 30
- Saturday 2 July Psalm 82
- Sunday 3 July Psalm 25
- Monday 4 July Psalm 6
- Tuesday 5 July to 6 July, during the conference, Psalm 119
- Bookmarks for this can be downloaded (contact Simon Jones if printer's variant with bleeds is required)
- Worshippers could use a wooden/paper cross which is hidden in their house each day and taken out to pray. There are a lot of designs online (eg Etsy). Or hide the bible you use to pray the Psalms.
- There is a list of practical activities that could be used in Messy Church or family services. There are also more ideas also from Open Doors.
- Share short films from Christians in Korea and Africa on the theme of hidden faith that could be used as an introduction to any service:
- A two minute film on a child in Korea discovering her parents have a hidden bible which would act as an introduction to any service. The Secret Church Experience is also worth investigating;
- Or an adult: Sarah whose family were her persecutors (three minutes). There are other resources on the Open Doors website including a map of countries affected and leaflets that can be sent for.
- Many of these ideas are also suitable for church schools to use.