By Erin Rodewald // November 5, 2017
Christian persecution is not a first century phenomenon. For hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide who daily experience verbal harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, displacement, torture, rape and even death, the struggle is real.
According to a newly released report from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), “the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”
It is a timely and fitting occasion then to focus attention on persecuted Christians today, November 5, which marks the 22nd International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
Persecuted Christians “often suffer in silence and isolation,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission, which sponsors IDOP each year. In a statement, he adds: “The IDOP has been a source of solidarity and encouragement to persecuted Christians by reminding them that they are part of a larger, global family of believers.”
Christians are by no means the only religious or minority group subject to harsh treatment and religious persecution, and the IDOP does not seek to diminish the real and urgent needs of those groups. It does seek to draw attention, however, to those persecuted for their belief in Christianity, which remains the world’s most oppressed faith community, according to the ACN report. Titled Persecuted and Forgotten?, the report cautions that in some regions, the church is on the verge of extinction as a result of genocide and other crimes against humanity.