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'Over 340 Million Persecuted': Believers Set to Mark International Day of Prayer for Oppressed Christians

Persecuted Christian, Hand in prison

Each November, the call goes out around the globe for Christians to come together and pray for the persecuted church. Organizers of this year's International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians say intercession is needed now more than ever as hundreds of millions of believers are experiencing attacks on an extreme level.

"Over 340 million Christians are persecuted or oppressed because of their faith in Jesus," David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, told CBN News' The Prayerlink. "Now some of those places like North Korea are exceptionally difficult if you're caught with a Bible or whatever. You may spend the rest of our life in prison or even lose your life."

Curry said due to the recent U.S. military withdrawal, Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian.

"That country is now controlled by the Taliban," Curry explained. "And the Taliban has morphed. It's Taliban 2.0. It has ISIS members and other kinds of extremists latching on too. So, we need to pray for people in Afghanistan who are followers of Jesus. It's a secret church."

Open Doors USA recently produced a documentary series on the persecuted church called "Unshakeable Faith," including true stories of hope in the face of desperation. 

"We go into these places to stand with persecuted believers," said Curry. "We have teams all over the world. And our job is to advocate for the persecuted, to help them, get them resources. We don't just airlift it in. We're going to deliver things to them, and prayer stand with them."

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is also encouraging churches to join in the special day of prayer. Author and radio host Todd Nettleton recently told CBN News' Gary Lane how Christians should pray for the persecuted church.

"I think it's easy to pray for it to stop," said Nettleton. "But that's not their prayer. Their prayer is Lord help us to be faithful in spite of the suffering. In spite of the persecution. So, I think that's an important thing for us to pray with them that God would encourage them and allow them to remain faithful."

Nov. 8, VOM is set to premiere the film "Sabina: Tortured for Christ, The Nazi Years." It details the powerful true story of how the organization's founders, Richard and Sabina Wumbrandt, became followers of Christ and then experienced extreme suffering because of their faith and the forgiveness they displayed. 
"It is one of the most amazing displays of the gospel and we still see this today in hostile and restricted nations where our persecuted brothers and sisters are able to forgive their persecutors," said Nettleton. "They're able to love their persecutors. It's such a display, a proof of the reality of the gospel that we often see persecutors impacted and even see come to follow Christ through that testimony and that example."

Meanwhile, Curry pointed out a special benefit felt by those who pray for these persecuted brothers and sisters.
"I think that the way God refreshes our heart, it doesn't just burden us with a problem but it allows us to participate in the answer," said Curry. "It's a spiritual battle."
The International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians will take place on Sunday, November 7.

The film Sabina: Tortured for Christ is in select theaters on November 8. Click here to find out where it's playing.

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