Being a father is never easy! But the fathers of the persecuted church face unique challenges. So, as we celebrate Father's Day, please remember them in your prayers.
The fathers of the persecuted church bear a special burden. Some have been torn from their families and thrown into prison for their faith. Many must find a way to provide for their families, when they find themselves exiled from their home and living in a foreign country or in a camp for refugees. Some lose their jobs because they follow Jesus, or are forced to work in menial jobs because those are the only occupations that Christians are allowed.
Some, like the fathers from Chibok (pictured above) grieve for their missing children: daughters who were taken by Islamic extremists. On April 14 2014, Boko Haram extremists stormed a school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, and abducted over 200 girls. Today, the whereabouts of over 100 of the girls reamins unknown.
Ishaya's daughter Hauwa, was one of those taken from the compound that night. Just looking at a picture of his daughter fills him with anguish. “It is still hard for me to look at her picture,” he says. “These thoughts in my head, they make me suffer. No day goes by without thinking of her.”
Fathers like these try to stay strong, but so often feel weak and vulnerable. Their families look to them for courage and hope, but they are, naturally, often fearful and almost in despair.
This is why one of the most important things that Open Doors partners can do is simply sit with them. Be there for them. Help them with their practical needs, encourage them with the knowledge that they do not have to struggle on their own.
They, after all, are the children of the one, true perfect Father.
And He will always be worth them, not just on Father's Day, but every moment of their lives.
We pray for the fathers of the persecuted church:
For the refugees who struggle to provide for their families,
For the grieving, whose children have gone missing,
For the prisoners, far from their family, jailed because they follow You.
Help them to stay strong, even when they feel weak,
Help them to bring hope, even when they feel everything is hopeless,
Help them to show courage, justice, forgiveness and love.
May their lives show what true fatherhood looks like,
And in doing so, may they point others to You.
In your name we pray
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.