Editor’s note: Sunday, Nov. 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP)—She Loves Out Loud Founder Diane Strack recalls asking Cru Founders Bill and Vonette Bright, now deceased, how they dealt with different theological beliefs when praying for the nations.
“I said how do you work through all the different kinds of beliefs people have in doctrines?” Strack, a member of First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., told Baptist Press in advance of the Nov. 6 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
“And he said, ‘What we do is we pray in Jesus’ name, and that’s all we focus on. So no matter what country they’re from, no matter what their doctrine is, we come back to this. Can we pray in Jesus’ name together?’” Strack recalled. “And that’s what we’re doing on this day.”
Strack will join other women from Southern Baptist churches and ministries and evangelistic missions in engaging women in prayer from 30 countries Nov. 5 in advance of the international observance.
Donna Gaines, women’s ministry leader and wife of pastor Steve Gaines, will host the She Loves Out Loud event at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, reaching women onsite, nationally and internationally through a registration-only silmulcast event.
Christi Haag, a speaker and advocate for children through Florida Baptist Children’s Homes’ One More Child initiative; Jackie Green, founder of Women of Legacy at the Museum of the Bible; Norine Brunson, a survivor with her husband Andrew Brunson of Christian persecution in Turkey; and Carole Ward, a missionary in northern Uganda and South Sudan, will join Strack and Gaines as speakers at the event, some of them joining virtually.
Several survivors of Christian persecution will share their testimonies and experiences. Participating churches attending virtually will include times of prayer onsite at their churches during the event, Strack said.
“We’re asking God to call women to missions, to foster and adopt, to just the many opportunities there are to serve,” she said, “whether it’s small or large. What the invitation will be at the end is, ‘God I’m available.’ All of us can say, ‘God I’m available.’”
The She Loves Out Loud simulcast is among numerous events marking the international prayer outreach, an annual observance birthed in 1996 to pray for persecuted Christians globally. The annual observance coincides with the Southern Baptist Convention Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church for the first time this year. Previously, the day of prayer for the persecuted church was held in June of the SBC calendar.
The International Mission Board has released resources to help churches pray for those persecuted for their faith. IMB encourages churches to pray that the Gospel continues to spread despite persecution, that God reunites families separated by persecution, that the persecuted would remain faithful, and that God would hear our pleas and deliver the persecuted.
Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleton appreciates the additional emphasis on prayer for the persecuted.
“It is great to know that even more churches will be following Scripture’s command to ‘Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body’ (Hebrews 13:3),” Nettleton told Baptist Press, “on the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians.”
Prayer is a key aspect of the VOM’s multifaceted ministry that has served persecuted Christians globally for more than 55 years. Nettleton points to several reasons, including Scripture, why prayer is a VOM hallmark.
“We’re commanded to remember those in prison, and we’re told that when one part of the body of Christ suffers, other parts are supposed to feel that pain. Secondly, prayer is the first thing our persecuted brothers and sisters ask us to do for them,” Nettleton said. “And finally, I think it’s important to remember that our prayers make a difference.
“When we pray, it makes a difference in encouraging those in the midst of persecution. It makes a difference in government leaders’ and courts’ decisions about our brothers and sisters. Prayer for persecuted Christians is a vital activity that every church and every Christian should be a part of.”
VOM offers prayer resources here, including a global prayer guide.
Christian persecution is considered one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Globally, someone dies for their faith every two minutes, IMB said.
More than 360 million Christians serve Jesus amid high persecution because of their faith, religious freedom advocate Open Doors said in its 2022 World Watch List. Among countries where Christians face the greatest persecution are Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and India, Open Doors said. She Loves Out Loud registration is still available for home-hosted groups, although individual church registration has closed. Home groups may register here.