K.P. Yohannan, Founder and President of Gospel for Asia (GFA), has called on Christians to pray with urgency for fellow Christians in the “10/40 Window,” who have witnessed significant increases in persecution over the past 10 years.
The “10/40 Window,” a geographic designation that encompasses the least-reached with the Gospel, was a unified focus for many this past Sunday, when Christians throughout the world marked the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
This coming Sunday, many in the United States will mark a second International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church as a way for those in the West to unite with the millions of persecuted Christians around the world and to show their support for them.
“Americans who have not experienced persecution do not fully understand what it means to have their lives threatened, homes destroyed, rights violated and loved ones imprisoned, all because of embracing faith in Jesus Christ,” remarked Yohannan, who is a Member of NRB’s Board of Directors. “In the 14 countries we (GFA) serve, persecution of this sort has become a normal way of life, especially for those directly involved in mission work.”
According to the ministry Open Doors, more than 100 million Christians are persecuted globally, and it's getting worse every year. A recent report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found more than 75 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where social hostilities or government restrictions rose substantially from 2006 to 2009.
In India alone, persecution of Christians has reportedly increased by 400 percent over the past 10 years. There have also been notable increases throughout the “10/40 Window.” In one “10/40” nation of 17 million people, an estimated 2,000 Christians must operate underground for fear of their lives.
“The increase of this kind of persecution should not be surprising where the Gospel is going forth in unfriendly world areas,” said Yohannan. “Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10). Historically and biblically, persecution is an anticipated part of serving God.”
Still, noted Yohannan, the biblical response of the church to persecution must be immediate and urgent prayer. Believers in remote parts of the world who feel alone in their struggle are divinely strengthened and encouraged by the prayers of others to remain faithful in the face of extreme persecution, Yohannan said.
GFA is encouraging Christians to make the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church more than a “nod” to persecution. Those who are physically able are urged to fast as well as pray.
“Suffering is forced upon our brothers and sisters. To those of us not experiencing the normality of persecution, Jesus is asking that we participate willingly in their suffering and chains,” concluded Yohannan. “Through our prayers, we can be agents of God’s divine healing, hope and help.”
Rather than simply making an announcement or spending a few moments in prayer, churches are urged to devote the entire worship time to prayer for the persecuted church individually, collectively and in small groups.
Published: November 8, 2012