On Sunday November 5, 2023, Release International took part in an online event to mark the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church (IDOP).
Since the mid-1990s IDOP has been marked, in November, by Christians around the world as a way of remembering the plight of, and focusing prayer on, the needs of persecuted Christians.
In recent years Release International has joined with other agencies in the UK to produce an online presentation. This year’s IDOP event was streamed on the evening of Sunday, November 5 with the Evangelical Alliance again hosting the event. In addition to Release International there were contributions from Open Doors and CSW.
You can watch a video of the event below.
Please remember – you can also plan your own IDOP Service using the free resources further down this webpage. You don’t have to have your event on November 5, just pick a date which is convenient to your church calendar.
We also want to encourage you to mark IDOP in your own local church by organising a special focus during one of your Sunday services in November (or at any time more convenient to your diary). We have compiled the resources below highlighting prisoners of faith to help you do this.
Please click to expand…
This presentation is designed to accompany a short talk. It includes three individual prisoner profiles, a Bible reading and several prayer points. Click here to download as a Powerpoint file (17.7MB).
If you are able to dedicate an entire service to IDOP, you may want to use this sermon outline based on Genesis 39:20 – 40:23 to help encourage a biblical response to persecution and supporting prisoners of faith.
Click here to download sermon outline as a WORD document.
How Can I Pray?
IDOP is about prayer and these prayer points for prisoners of faith and their families will help guide your petitions.
- Pray for all those who are imprisoned because of their faith in countries like China, Eritrea, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea: that they will know the sustaining power of God; that they will have opportunities to see their families and have fellowship with other Christians; that they will be able to share the love of Christ with their guards and fellow prisoners; and that in God’s time they will be released.
- Pray for the families of Christian prisoners, who often face harassment, ostracism, and deprivation. Pray that God will provide for all their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
- Pray for Christian pastors and church leaders who have been detained and imprisoned in China. Pray that God will protect them from harsh treatment by the prison authorities; that their faith will remain strong; and that their testimony will encourage other pastors to keep on serving. Pray for Pastor Wang Yi who is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence.
- Pray for Christians who are detained in harsh labour camps in North Korea. Pray that they will know the freedom of Christ in their hearts and have opportunities to share the hope of the gospel with their fellow prisoners. Pray for Deacon Jang who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence.
- Pray for long term Christian prisoners in Eritrea. Some like Dr Kiflu have never faced trial. Pray that they will know the love and encouragement of the Lord as they spend time separated from their families and churches. Give thanks for the recent release of long-term prisoner Twen Tedros.
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan who have been falsely accused and incarcerated under the notorious blasphemy laws. Pray for justice and for the laws to stop being misused against innocent people. Pray that Zafar Bhatti who has already spent 10 years behind bars will be acquitted soon.
- Pray for house church leaders in Iran who face the threat of arrest, interrogation and lengthy prison sentences for their Christian work. Pray they will continue to have courage to plant and lead local churches despite the risks. Pray that the Iranian government will recognise the value of its Christian citizens.
- Pray for Release International’s partners in various countries who are serving Christian prisoners of faith and their families. Pray that channels of communication would remain secure and open. Pray that practical provisions will reach those who need it most. Pray that partners who have the opportunity to visit prisoners will have the right words to bring support and comfort.
- Pray that as Christians in the UK we will be moved to actively remember those in prison. May God give us compassion to learn their stories; to commit to praying for them; to write to them, and to speak up on their behalf wherever we have the opportunity.
Click here to download these Prayer Points as a WORD document.
You may also like to include details of the following Prisoners of Faith in your IDOP Service:
PASTOR WANG YI – CHINA
ARRESTED: December 2018
SENTENCE: 9 years imprisonment
Pastor Wang Yi is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for ‘inciting subversion of state power.’ Following his public refusal to conform to the Chinese Communist Party’s strict new religious laws in 2018, which are an attempt to distort and control the Christian faith, he fully expected to be arrested and prepared a personal declaration. This is some of what it says:
‘I firmly believe that the Bible has not given any branch of any government the authority to run the church or to interfere with the faith of Christians. Therefore the Bible demands that I, through peaceable means, in meek resistance and active forbearance, filled with joy, resist all administrative policies and legal measures that oppress the church and interfere with the faith of Christians…I hope God uses me… to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.’
Click here to download Pastor Wang Yi’s Prisoner Profile as a pdf document.
DEACON JANG – N KOREA
KIDNAPPED & ARRESTED: November 2014
SENTENCE: 15 years imprisonment
Deacon Jang is an ethnically Korean Chinese citizen who lived in Changbai, China, near the border of North Korea. He was involved in a ministry hosting North Koreans who visited his town to seek help and to conduct business. He gave them warm clothes, food and supplies for their return journey. He also shared his faith with those who were willing to listen and a number of the visiting North Koreans became Christians. His goal was always to see North Koreans return home. However, in November 2014 Deacon Jang was kidnapped from China and sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison.
Release International urges Christians in the UK to write to the North Korean Ambassador to the UK to respectfully ask for Deacon Jang to be released.
Read Deacon Jang’s story in the Oct-Dec 2023 edition of Voice Magazine here.
TWEN TEDROS – ERITREA
ARRESTED: 2004 RE-ARRESTED: 2005
SENTENCE: Indefinite RELEASED: January 2021
After being arrested because of her faith in 2005, Twen Tedros was sent to Mai Serwa prison near Asmara where she spent nearly three years locked in a metal shipping container. During the daytime the prison guards shut the door and window of the container making it very difficult for the prisoners to breathe. Twen called out to God for help and some verses from 1 Peter 4 came to her, ‘Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ…’
Twen said, ‘When I received this verse, I felt the Holy Spirit in my heart. I started to rejoice and to breathe – I don’t know how. It was like Daniel’s friends alive in the fire. God wanted to show His glory in my life.’ Twen spent a total of 16 years in prison and suffered terribly during that time. However, reflecting on her time in prison and all the suffering she endured she said, ‘The grace of God made everything possible. I feel so blessed to participate in Christ’s suffering.’
Read Twen’s story in the Jan-Mar 2023 edition of Voice Magazine here.