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International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Where I Met God

October 31, 2013 by Open Doors in General

 Most people who drove to IDOP Camp Peniel, in the hills of Central Arkansas, drove through rain, until about the last 7 miles. One man said, “It’s as if God was holding His hand over this place to keep it dry for us.” There was a buzz about the place as the crowd arrived. God was there too – listening to each word, each song, and each spoken and unspoken prayer.

IDOP Camp Peniel

God was enjoying each hug and collecting every tear. These children of God gathered to pray, just like hundreds of groups around the world; coming alongside those brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith.

Christians praying for the Persecuted Christians around the world

On this day, Christians focused on what they have in common – Jesus. It didn’t take long before it started to feel like a family reunion. When reminded that there is one church, the family comes to see themselves as the persecuted church. The perspectives change when the family sees a martyred pastor as their pastor; sees an arrested prayer group as their prayer group; sees a church burned as their church; or sees a child sold into slavery as their own child.

About 85 people attended this IDOP. People of all ages came, including Christians of several denominations, and several pastors too. Some drove as much as 3 hours to get to Camp Peniel. They came from the north, south, east, and west. They were from 13 months to 90 years old, with a full third being high school and college age. Regardless of their age, they wanted to help. They came to learn, to share, to sing, to worship, to hug, and to pray. And they did.

Christians praying for the Persecuted Christians

Camp Peniel is a Cumberland Presbyterian church camp nestled in the woods on top of a rocky hill. You don’t have to be here long to know the founders chose an appropriate name – Peniel, where Jacob said he met God (Genesis 32:30). Attendees who have been here before tell stories about meeting God here.

You don’t just happen upon the place; you have to be intentional about finding it. These children of God came to meet God and be united in prayer.

God met people at IDOP. He used the day to accomplish several things:

  • To increase awareness of His work around the world and how that has led to persecution of His children.
  •  To make connections between ministries. Each attendee could be traced back to some activity God led the organizers to pursue.
  • To get the family to focus on what it has in common rather than its differences.
  • To promote worship among all ages.
  • To show the power of His Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that gives persecuted Christians the strength to endure, and that lives inside all of us believers.

Kevin McMahan

Kevin McMahan is a Bridgebuilder volunteer for Open Doors USA, and is an active spokesperson and writer for the persecuted church. He is a pastor at Journey Church North Little Rock (Arkansas) and founding partner of Federal Practice Group, a small business consulting to the government in the field of low-income multifamily housing. He attends graduate school at Moody Theological Seminary.

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