International (MNN) – While less than a third of the people around the world identify themselves as Christians, about 80% of the religious persecution taking place targets Christians. In fact, Christians are persecuted in more countries than any other religion. Millions of Christians face a variety of dangers because of their faith, culture, or ethnicity. These are the facts driving the topic of the 3rd Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom: The Persecution of Christians in the Holy Lands and Middle East. Today is the final day of the three-day conference.
The topic of religious persecution, particularly when it comes to Christians, fits right in with the vision of Open Doors USA: to serve the Persecuted Church.
David Curry, CEO of Open Doors says, “This is a conference that has been in DC and draws attention. You usually have bishops from the Middle East and from other parts of the world—high church officials coming together with politicians and talking about it at a high level.”
The topic is especially pertinent given that the Open Doors World Watch List is coming out in January. This resource identifies which countries participate in the worst persecution of Christians. Curry says the list is driven not just by voices in leadership, but from the everyday believer undergoing trials because of their faith.
“I think both approaches are terribly important—that we have senators and congressmen meeting with church officials to hear the stories of what’s happening in their regions. I think it’s good.” But, he says, “It can’t do everything. We need to continue to draw attention to what’s happening at the grassroots level and talk about it in the halls of congress– pray about it in churches.
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)
“This is the issue, I think, of our time. I say that with confidence because persecution, … and particularly the persecution of Christians is the tipping point in every major crisis around the world. In North Korea, in Africa, in Iraq and Syria—it begins with persecution of Christians.”
Curry explains that when people start to get away with persecuting Christians, things begin to unravel quickly. Soon, other parts of society become targets of abuse. The entire population suffers because of religious persecution.
“This is the issue we need to be talking about and addressing. And I think when people don’t have the freedom to worship the way they choose, they basically don’t have any freedom at all.”
If you’d like to live stream some of the final conversations taking place at the conference today, check it out here.
And in this Advent season, Curry encourages us to pray for believers around the world.
“[I’m] thankful for people who begin to pray now around Christmas for these folks around the [world]… I think this is an opportunity for Jesus’ people to stand up in a big way and to reach out and to care for what’s happening around the world and to be the moral voice.”