Christians worldwide are praying for the persecuted Church as religious freedom is increasingly threatened during the pandemic.
Sunday marks the 24th International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), held each year to unite the global Church in speaking out against persecution.
Release International, one of the UK organisations supporting IDOP, said that even with many parts of the world under lockdown or restrictions due to the pandemic, persecution has only increased.
In China, churches have been demolished, their crosses torn down and pastors arrested.
“Persecution doesn’t just hide in the backwaters. It is taking place in plain sight in the largest and most populous nations on earth,” said Release CEO Paul Robinson.
“Even state-controlled churches are being demolished and destroyed.”
In India, Christians are being persecuted by Hindu extremists.
“Attacks and false accusations against Christians are now almost a daily occurrence – and this in the world’s largest democracy, the second most populous nation on earth,” said Robinson.
In Nigeria, Christians already fearful of Boko Haram terrorists now face additional threats from armed Fulani herdsmen.
In numerous attacks on villages this year, Christians have been driven from their homes or slaughtered.
According to the International Society for Human Rights, around 80 per cent of religious persecution around the world today is aimed at Christians.
China, India and Nigeria are the focus of this year’s IDOP in the UK, with Release, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and the Evangelical Alliance jointly hosting an online IDOP event on Sunday from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.
Robinson added: “Our prayer for IDOP 2020 is to help our brothers and sisters in India, China and Nigeria to rise above persecution – and remain faithful in their worship and witness.”