Henrietta Blyth, the CEO of Christian charity Open Doors, has emphasized the importance of prayer as a powerful means of supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
She called upon believers to join in the Sunday International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, dedicated to the millions of Christians who face restrictions on their faith and are unable to worship freely, including those in Gaza.
Believers in Gaza have reached out to Open Doors, expressing their feelings of being forgotten by the global Christian community. They urge Christians worldwide to seek out their individual stories and offer prayers on their behalf.
Blyth emphasized their requests, saying, “They’re asking us to pray that the Church will continue to be a beacon of hope and that they themselves will be salt and light within their communities. We need to pray for the comfort of people who’ve lost loved ones and particularly for the families of the hostages who don’t know what’s happening to them. We also need to pray for the international community, for wisdom for leaders so we can listen to what our persecuted brothers and sisters are experiencing.”
Blyth encouraged Christians to visit Open Doors’ dedicated page to find stories of individual Christians in Gaza. These stories can provide insight into the challenges and hardships they face, further emphasizing the importance of prayer.
In addition to Gaza, Blyth drew attention to Christians in several countries, including India, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Colombia, all of which rank at the top of Open Door’s watch list for persecution. She pointed out that these Christians share the same faith but do not have the same freedom to worship. Many of them experience tremendous opposition, particularly if they have converted from other faiths. Blyth stated, “Many of them are forcibly divorced, sent away from their families, and lose access to their children. It’s really horrific what our brothers and sisters are going through, and we can feel so helpless.”
However, Blyth remains convinced that prayer is a powerful tool. She referenced the founder of Open Doors, Brother Andrew (van der Bijl), who smuggled Bibles beyond the Iron Curtain in the mid-20th century, and his belief that “our prayers go where we cannot.” Blyth provided two key reasons to support the power of prayer. She explained, “One is because prayer makes a difference. Jesus prayed, and he prayed to strengthen us, his followers, and to strengthen himself. If Jesus did it, it’s important that we follow his example.” Blyth continued, “We pray as well, for our brothers and sisters. It’s a massive encouragement and strength for them to know that we stand with them, see their pain, and pray for them. And that makes all the difference to them.”
To guide Christians in their prayers, Blyth encouraged the use of the Bible as the ultimate source of wisdom. She recommended the Psalms, which provide powerful words to articulate prayers on behalf of persecuted Christians. She shared Psalm 142 as an example: “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you, Lord, who know my way. In the path where I walk, men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see, no one is concerned for me, I have no refuge. No one cares for my life. I cried to you, O Lord, I said you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Blyth concluded her call to action by stressing that prayer is a tangible way for Christians to make a difference in the lives of their persecuted brothers and sisters. It is a means to offer support, strength, and hope to those who face severe challenges due to their faith. By praying and sharing in their struggles, the global Christian community can demonstrate its commitment to standing with those who cannot worship freely, ensuring that they are not forgotten but rather upheld in their faith journey.