Saturday night, November 10, 7PM, is the fifth annual One Body Night of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The Night of Prayer brings together people from churches across the Washington, DC metropolitan area – as well as anyone and everyone with a desire to pray for Christians around the globe suffering for the sake of Christ. We at the Institute on Religion and Democracy are pleased to co-sponsor this event, which takes place at the Chinese Community Church, 500 I Street, NW, Washington, DC.
The Night of Prayer’s number one priority is to bring the Body of Christ in the DC area face to face with the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Body, the Church. In other words, if you attend the Night of Prayer, you will be face to face with Christians who have suffered for their faith. It is powerful and life-changing to meet and hear Christians from around the world that have stood firm for Jesus “not somehow, but triumphantly.”
At last year’s Night of Prayer, I was blessed to introduce one of the speakers, Joseph Hovsepian, from Iran. Twenty-five years ago (24 in 2017) one of my first actions as a new staff member at IRD was to help raise a worldwide cry on behalf of Joseph’s father, Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, leader of the Evangelical Christians in Iran.
Bishop Haik himself had raised a cry, a cry that ended up making him a martyr. He dared to tell the world about his friend and fellow pastor, Mehdi Dibaj, who was sentenced to death for apostasy. The international outcry ended up getting Dibaj released, but soon after, Bishop Haik disappeared off the street. We were holding a demonstration/prayer rally on the bishop’s behalf outside the Iranian interest section of another embassy when the word came that Haik’s body had been “discovered” by the Iranian secret police.
Haik and Dibaj are now part of the great cloud of witnesses who overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. But they also left an extraordinary legacy in children that love Jesus and boldly proclaim His Name. What an honor it was to meet one of them – filmmaker Joseph – who uses his talent to bring attention to the persecuted Christians in Iran.
This year, the representatives of the global Body of Christ who will be sharing their stories and the story of the Christians in their nations include
Stephen Enada, Director, International Committee on Nigeria (ICON)
Mouna Gharib, CRU, University of Maryland, from Syria
Gum San Nsang, Kachin Alliance, Burma
Pastor Wang Dao, ChinaAid, China
After each speaker there will be time to pray for the persecuted Christians in his or her nation. The persecution of the Body of Christ has been ratcheted up significantly in each of these countries. Nigerian Christians are slaughtered outright by Boko Haram and Fulani jihadists. Syrian Christians are caught in a vicious conflict perpetuated by their own government, along with Iran, Turkey, and Russia. Almost everyone has heard about the targeting by Burmese military and government of Rohingya Muslims. But few know that Christians have been targeted far longer. And the Chinese Communist government has recently begun a new, brutal crackdown on churches and church leaders.
The Master of Ceremonies for the Night of Prayer is Don Kroah, the host of the popular Christian radio talk show, The Don Kroah Show. Kroah is a fierce advocate for persecuted Christians.
Another highlight of the Night of Prayer every year is praise and worship. It is not a coincidence that the event takes place roughly around the date of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), an observance that began over 20 years ago. IRD was a co-creator of IDOP and it is good to see how that event has been transformed into many special types of observances that fit the community that is participating in it. The Night of Prayer is just such a special observance.
If you live in the DC area, I urge you to come and be a part of this Saturday’s Night of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. You will be blessed – but that is not why you should participate. You should participate because as a member of the One Body of Christ, you have a Biblically-mandated responsibility to fellow members of the Body who are experiencing persecution and suffering unlike anything that you have ever experienced. You should participate because it is an opportunity to focus outside yourself and your own problems, outside your nation and your nation’s own problems and fulfill the conditions for the promises of God in Isaiah 58. And you should participate because it is a privilege to be with other believers from many other denominations, with many different styles of worship, but one in Christ.
For more information about the Night of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and about One Body – the group of friends that created it – see the website. You can view a short video from last year’s Night of Prayer. And you can let One Body know if you can come with the RSVP linked here or here.