Over a year ago two Christian women appeared before an Iranian judge, who asked them if they would deny their newfound faith and return to Islam. Maryam Rostampour, 28, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 31, had been held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran for months, accused of two serious charges. Both refused to recant their faith. The judge sent them back to their prison cells where they suffered severe illness.
Many Christian advocacy groups launched campaigns to put pressure on the Iranian government to release the brave women. During the 2009 International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church, millions of Christians prayed for their release.
They were later released pending another court appearance. On 22 May 2010, Maryam and Marzieh were acquitted of all charges by Iranian judicial authorities and secretly fled the country. Maryam and Marzieh said after their escape that “we are most eager to thank Christians who have been praying for us. We have no doubt that God heard the prayers of his people. The prayers encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal.”
As in the case of Maryam and Marzieh, prayer is the number one request of millions of persecuted Christians around the globe. Christians in the West again have the opportunity to join the largest global prayer event of its kind on Sunday, 14 November 2010, when IDOP 2010 is observed in churches, small groups, and homes. IDOP was launched in 1996 and crosses all denominational lines.
“Your prayers really do make a significant difference in the lives of Christians in places like Iraq, Nigeria, India, and North Korea,” says Open Doors USA president/CEO Carl Moeller. “I have visited hundreds of persecuted believers in my seven years with Open Doors and those dedicated believers always ask me not to forget them and to prayer for them. Will you join me in intercession for them on IDOP and all year long?”
Pastor Dave Gordon of Trinity Baptist Church in Indio, California, states,
Joining together with other churches in our community to help our persecuted family has been one of the highlights of my life. I have become good friends with the other participating pastors. It has moved us to a deeper experience of unity. But most of all, we have helped our brothers and sisters much more together than we could have done separately. I urge the pastors of this country to band together to bless our family worldwide.
Some Christian organizations are offering churches and small groups IDOP kits. For more information, visit www.persecutedchurch.org.