IDOP Online 2021
Help generate a global wave of prayer by taking part in this year’s International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church on Sunday November 7.
…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1: 6-7
SPECIAL ONLINE EVENT
We are delighted once again this year to team up with our friends at CSW, The Evangelical Alliance and Open Doors for a special live online event at 7.30pm on Sunday November 7. You can register for the event here. Please join us as we raise our voices to the Lord together.
PLAN YOUR OWN IDOP SERVICE/EVENT
We also want to encourage you to mark IDOP in your own local church either by organising a special prayer time or during one of your Sunday services in November. We have compiled the resources below to help you do this. This year Release International is focusing on the specific issue of displacement caused by persecution.
Introduction to IDOP
Please watch this 3-minute film which introduces IDOP and highlights several situations where Christians have been forced to flee because of their faith.
Please use the following resources to plan your own IDOP service:
This short presentation is designed to accompany a 5-minute talk. It includes a world map slide showing the various places where Christians have been forced to flee and where Release International partners are helping. It also includes personal testimonies and some prayer points.
Click the image to download the presentation as a Powerpoint file.
If you are able to dedicate an entire service to IDOP, you may want to use this sermon outline based on 1 Peter 1:1-9 to help bring a biblical focus to persecution and displacement.
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1-9 (ESV)
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Born Again to a Living Hope
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
IDOP Service 2021 – Bible Talk Outline
1 Peter 1:1-9 – Elect Exiles
This Bible talk outline is based on 1 Peter 1:1-9 and is intended for use in IDOP 2021 services focusing on the theme of displacement. It gives some initial ideas, structure and suggested stories/illustrations for further development. Talks based on this outline could be 15-25 minutes long.
Illustration – think about the word ‘home.’ What does it mean to you, what connotations does it have? Contrast this with the word exile. What does it mean, what connotations does it have?
Issue – show the displacement map and mention that Christians are forced to flee from several countries because of their faith. Share the story of one family or individual to highlight this.
Bible Passage – 1 Peter 1:1-9
Context – The letter is addressed to ‘exiles’ who have been scattered throughout the first century Roman world. The term ‘exiles’ has spiritual significance which is developed later in the letter (2:11), but there is a strong possibility that Peter’s readers were also literal exiles forced from their homes because of their faith. In the face of this unjust treatment Peter writes to comfort and encourage them.
Hope – Peter says his readers have been born again into a living hope (1:3). Explore what hope means. What do people generally hope in? Christian hope is sure and certain because it is secured through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus has defeated death so no matter what the world throws at us our hope is secure.
Inheritance – Peter says his readers have also been born again into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1:4). This is particularly significant for exiles as the idea of inheritance is traditionally tied to land – land that they have lost. But material inheritance decays – think of examples to illustrate. In contrast our eternal inheritance is incorruptible. Share the story of one family or individual to highlight this.
Trials – Despite his encouragement, Peter doesn’t minimise the real suffering of his readers (1:6) and neither should we when it comes to persecution today. But nevertheless, Peter says we can rejoice because trials prove the reality of our faith (1:7). Jesus said, ‘if they persecuted me, they will persecute you’ (John 15:20). Although trials hurt, they come because of our identification with Jesus and therefore they assure us, and demonstrate to the world, that we belong to him. They deepen our relationship with him (1:8) and help our faith to grow (1:9). Share the story of one family or individual to highlight this.
Stay informed – Encourage people to sign up for Voice magazine and other information.
Pray – Encourage people to use the Prayer Shield prayer diary to pray consistently.
Give – Point people towards our current appeal.
Click here to download this content as a WORD document.
IDOP is about prayer and these prayer points on the theme of displacement will help guide your petitions on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters.
- Pray for Christians for whom fleeing from persecution is the only option. Pray for God’s protection and provision.
- Pray also for God’s grace in the emotional turmoil of leaving everything behind.
- Pray for those ministries caring for fleeing Christians: that they will be able to provide the necessary physical needs – but also to give pastoral and spiritual support.
- Pray for Eritrean Christians on refugee camps in Ethiopia – particularly those caught up in the current conflict in the Tigray area.
- Pray for Christians from Syria and Iraq who have fled to the northern Kurdistan region.
- Pray for Christians in Nigeria who have become refugees in their own country as a result of Islamist attacks.
- Pray for the country of Afghanistan; that believers will remember that God knows everything, He cares for them and will provide for them even in the most difficult of times.
- Pray that the global church and NGOs supporting Christians in Afghanistan respond to calls for help with compassion, wisdom and boldness, and help people to find God in the midst of trouble and great distress.
Click here to download this content as a WORD document.
It is so important for us to hear the first-person voice of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Daniel, Tsedal and Morteza and Arezou were all forced to flee because of their faith.
Story one: Daniel (Nigeria)
Daniel now lives on a camp for displaced people; a refugee in his own country.
He was forced to flee his home, in the Gwoza area of Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state, when Boko Haram attacked.
More than 150 people were killed in the attack. Daniel’s three sons, who were aged between 7 and 14 at the time, were all shot dead. His father was beheaded. His wife was abducted and – as he later learned – forcibly married off to a Muslim.
Daniel managed to escape and fled to Maiduguri, the state capital, where he now lives on a camp for people who have fled violence. “Life is not easy in the camp,” he said. “When the NGOs come [with supplies] we all survive.”
But, by the grace of God – and despite all he has been through – Daniel remains firm in his faith. “I have surrendered my life to Christ,” he said.
Story two: Tsedal (Eritrea)
Tsedal’s husband, Ftsum, was arrested when Eritrean secret police began indiscriminately rounding up Christians from their homes and places of work.
Unable to visit her husband in prison, Tsedal tried to smuggle him medication for his high blood pressure. Ftsum was recognised as a leader among Christians and so was put in solitary confinement, and yet, despite constant ill-treatment, he and other believers refused to renounce their faith. Two years after his arrest he died in prison.
For two months Tsedal remained in the coastal town of Massawa where the family had lived. But when she received some financial support from a ministry related to Release International, the Eritrean security forces began spying on her. Her children began to be harassed at school for being Christians.
So Tsedal moved briefly to the Eritrean capital of Asmara, before fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia, where she spent several months living in a refugee camp, before resettling in a small Ethiopian town. Despite all she has been through, her trust in God remains strong.
Story three: Morteza (Iran)
Morteza was running a small office equipment business in Iran when he came to faith in Christ. He met Arezou, an Arab from the southwest of the country who had also become a Christian. They began running a house church, and were married at a Release International partner’s training centre.
But their lives changed forever the day they were summoned by Iran’s state intelligence agency for questioning. They were subsequently interrogated on four separate occasions, and were even threatened with sexual abuse.
Morteza also began to be threatened by unknown individuals and eventually his business was closed down. Finally the couple felt they had no option but to flee. They left behind their home and all their belongings and made their way to Turkey.
By the grace of God they became involved in Christian ministry in Turkey – and have seen more than 300 people baptised in response to their sharing of the gospel!
Partner Profile: Operation Angel Afghanistan and North Pakistan
Release International partner, Operation Angel, provides critical ministry support to seekers and believers in Afghanistan and North Pakistan. Their broadcast media ministry enables radio programmes sharing the Gospel to reach rural areas. This is a vital lifeline in hard-to-reach locations, and it is estimated that they have over 200,000 listeners. They also provide a telephone helpline for Christians and seekers who need to talk and share their faith in safety. Around 900 Afghans called the helpline in 2020. They also provide telephone Bible classes to small groups.
Operation Angel ministers through partnerships with local ministries, to Afghan refugees in Europe who have fled. The Greek Island of Lesbos has thousands of Afghan refugees in camps and believers’ groups are growing. Operation Angel provides global outreach to Afghans online and holds other events and conferences including courses on Christian marriage, healthy family life and servanthood. In 2020 they ran a 5-day winter camp for Afghan believers in Finland. One of the team visited Afghanistan last year and told us: “I was invited to meet with an extended family, some who had recently come to faith. We had a great Bible study, and I stayed all day. I felt I could help the one brother who was becoming negative about other believers in the country. At the end one of them said, ‘It feels like you’re a member of our family!’”
With the recent events unfolding in Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban, this work is even more critical and needs your prayers. It will now be much more difficult and dangerous for believers and seekers in Afghanistan and North Pakistan to access any Biblical materials, so radio ministry is a key tool to enable the Word of God to be spread.
We need to continue to hold Operation Angel in our prayers as they continue support Afghans to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ and seek to follow Him. We pray that they will understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and be transformed into his image.
Remember – if your church is not able to join with us for IDOP 2021 on November 7 you can choose a date for your own service. We shall leave these IDOP resources on this page for you to use at a time convenient to you.
Please do make use of these FREE resources – they are ideal ideal for your own service, meeting or prayer event.