Prayer for Persecution Day Urged Denominations Asked to `Shatter' Silence over Religious Attacks

Article excerpt

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

Christ. …