On November 1st, Christians from around the world observed the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church by interceding not only for those daily suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ, but for perpetrators of such violence.
According to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, 80 percent of global persecution is directed against Christians as over 100 million believers face persecution each day. Such persecution around the world has increased this year, according to Open Doors President David Curry, due to the continued terror of ISIS in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram's rampages in Nigeria; the oppression of religious minorities in North Korea, and many other cases.
In an attempt to bring such stories to light, Open Doors, which this year celebrated its 60th anniversary, featured several Christian witnesses on its IDOP live webcast on Friday and took questions from social media users regarding the participants, who hailed from Kenya, North Korea, and Iraq.
One Christian woman who participated in the webcast, an educator from Kenya identified as Gladys, shared how she lost her husband, Benjamin, during attacks by a Muslim mob.
While walking with a Christian pastor one day, Benjamin was hacked to death with machetes by the Muslim mob and then burned beyond recognition. Although it is not yet known who the attackers were, they are believed to have been linked to the al-Shabaab terror group, which killed nearly 150 Christian students at a college in Garissa back in April.
After learning what happened to her husband, Gladys revealed: "The first thing I did, I remember getting into the living room of my house, kneeling at the coffee table, and crying, 'God forgive them.' That was the first thing I said, and I kept on insisting on that - 'Forgive them, Father, forgive them.'"
She emphasized that asking God to forgive those who killed her husband "was tough, it was not easy."
"But one thing I had to allow myself to do, I had to allow God to deal with me in pain. The thing that I felt reaching out to me was love. And love these people who had done this. I tried very hard to think about this in my mind, but my heart was leading totally toward love," she added.
While there is certainly a divide between Christians and Muslims in Kenya, Gladys urged Christians to reach out to other religious groups because "Christ is about love."
"If you keep quiet, people will not hear about this love," she said, encouraging believers in the West to continue praying for those who are suffering.
She added, "We don't need to fear Muslims. What's so different between me and a Muslim? The blood I have is the same color as the Muslim."
While the two religious groups have vastly different beliefs, Glady asserted that unity is not impossible.
"You want a person to come and understand who Jesus is? Start praying. God breaks down those barriers that are making this person not really see. You do not need to fear a Muslim," she said.
Also speaking during the webcast, Curry emphasized that those who are living under persecution and those who are refugees from it often say their greatest need is hope.
"[Ho]pe found in their faith and hope born of the knowledge that Christians in the free world are remembering them in prayer," he explained. "We need to be praying every day for the persecuted church. We need to take action to find where your passion lies and connect in ways to serve the persecuted church like you've never done before. I believe, I really believe that this is going to be the issue that we're really challenged with in the next decade."
The full webcast, including other information about how Christians can get involved and help persecuted believers, is available on the Open Doors website.