More than 13 million people across the world have fled conflicts and crises in which religion has been a key factor, according to the 2015 report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
The annual report, released today, reveals that most of the 13 million people displaced are from seven nations: Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), Eritrea, Burma, and Afghanistan.
In response to the persistent exodus of Christians, the Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch and All the East, proclaimed in a 2013 letter, “Stay here! Don’t emigrate! Despite all the difficulties, destroyed churches, abandoned parishes, marginalization, Middle East Christians should remain staunchly in their land, village or district.
“We want to preserve this strong, faithful, convinced … influential, calm Christian presence at all costs,” he wrote, “to be able to bear witness and show Christian values and real Christian vision in our predominantly Muslim world, and be present with and for this world, showing forth the compassionate Christ Jesus, Lover of mankind.”
Despite such pleas, millions of Middle Eastern people, many of them Christians, have sought sanctuary as refugees outside of their countries.
The report also raises concerns about Blasphemy laws, especially in Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, those countries, such as Iran, where Christians are jailed for their beliefs, and countries such as India, where religious minorities are oppressed and attacked.
- Pray for Christians world wide who are facing persecution, oppression, prison or exile because of their beliefs. Pray that they will know the comfort of their loving God, His presence within them and be able to witness to His truth and love even in persecution.
- Pray for countries where Christians are persecuted, that governments will come to see the truth of the Gospel and soften their stance on Christianity and freedom of religion.
Psalm 57 vs 1: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.”