For those of us living in climates of religious freedom, the topic of persecution may feel like something to avoid. So much unpleasantness: suffering, guilt (as we lack the level of commitment of those who are suffering), and a sense of helplessness to do anything about it.

And like Christmas or Easter, an element of obligation and routine may creep in as the season approaches. When the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church rolls around, a lot of things can get in the way of committing to pray—besides things to do and places to go, there's also compassion fatigue, or just plain old fatigue, and perhaps the sense that you're going to get cowed into something you're just not that into.

Those who regard Christianity as something more than a topic in the cafeteria of ideas, however, will hurt when other members of the body hurt. As a relationship with the God who was tortured to death, Christianity has persecution at its core. Hence the annual International Day of Prayer (IDOP), like Christmas or Easter, is something that is always with us, even if we recognize it officially but once a year.

Many churches observed IDOP on Sunday, but the observance actually lasts an entire week (November 13-20), with the call to prayer especially highlighted last Sunday and next. Numbers will be bandied about, such as the roughly 200 million Christians around the world who are imprisoned and/or tortured for their faith, or the 400 million whose religious liberties are violated, often costing them their homes and/or livelihoods. Exhortations to pray for the persecuted church will issue forth. And stories of persecuted believers will be told—many to choose from. The news service for which I'm managing editor, Compass Direct, ...

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