Doug McCary, a 36-year-old former Marine Corps pilot and former
FBI agent, has seen a lot of violence and heard a lot of tough
talk in his life, but something a ministry student from
Turkmenistan told him shook him to his core.
The ministry student calmly told him he was ready to lay down
his life for his Christian belief in the predominantly Muslim
country. "He probably will," McCary said. "They count it an
honor to give their lives for Christ."
McCary, of the San Jose area of Jacksonville, advocates
churches joining in the International Day of Prayer for the
Persecuted Church this Sunday. The day, which focuses on
Christian churches of all denominations, has been promoted by
Christian Solidarity International, a London-based group that
monitors religious freedom issues.
In the Jacksonville area, Ben Goldsmith, metro coordinator of
the Campus Crusade for Christ Ministries, said a group of
Christian businessmen is trying to get local churches involved
in the day of prayer Sunday.
The non-denominational Jacksonville Christian Businessmen's
Fellowship, which meets in a Friday breakfast at the Independent
Life building, is promoting the event.
Goldsmith said he was concerned that he had not heard of
churches getting involved in this movement. The relative silence
of American churches in the face of news about worldwide
persecution is the reason for the theme of the day of prayer,
"Shatter the Silence."
In Palatka, a 12-hour prayer vigil, led by One for Another
Ministries, will begin at 6 a.m. Sunday at the the city's
downtown riverfront park.
In Turkmenistan, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many
other Third World countries, being a Christian requires a
willingness to die for what one believes.
McCary, a minister and instructor for the Dallas-based
East-West Ministries International, has been traveling to
Islamic-dominated Central Asia to teach in a Christian pastor
training center in Kazakhstan.
In early October, McCary was leading a class of young men in
the center when he asked two of the ministerial candidates where
they were from. They told him Turkmenistan.
"This is a country where Christians regularly get their throats
slit on the streets," McCary said, citing reports from Christian
news sources. "I told them, `This is a very dangerous country.
What would you like me to pray for you?'
"Through an interpreter, one of the men, about 25 years old,
told me, `Just pray that I will glorify Christ, either in life
or in death, and be faithful to him.' It sobered me up and made
me really think of my own willingness to lay down my life for