Hundreds gathering from around the world in nation’s capital to discuss the Christian response to terror and genocide
By Bill Bray, Special Missions Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS, May 10, 2017) – US Vice President, Mike Pence, will address Christian leaders tomorrow morning (Thursday, May 11, 2017) at 9 a.m. to help kick-off the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.
Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), the international summit is scheduled to bring over 600 Christian leaders from 130 countries to discuss the spreading persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.
“Christians are now one of the most victimized groups in the world,” says spokesman Todd Shearer, “215 million Christians experience very high or extreme persecution in 50 countries.”
The indigenous leaders are gathering behind closed doors for the first-time ever to plan a strategic, global response starting today through May 13. They will seek answers to the question, “How should Christians love their enemies and respond to genocide and persecution around the world?”
The invitation-only event in Washington is hosted by Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization and is scheduled for May 10-13, but the delegates are already arriving.
Besides planning and organizing an emergency response to the persecution and genocide crisis, the conference has four stated purposes: (1) Help change public policy that promotes discrimination against Christians, harassment and persecution, (2) Find ways to increase diplomatic pressure on the violating states, (3) Inform and mobilize Christians to address President Trump and their elected officials to take stronger American action against the increasing persecution, (4) Comfort and help the victims respond in a Biblical manner.
Government restrictions, harassment and persecution of Christians and other minority religious groups soared in 2015-2016 according to the non-partisan Pew Research Center. Restrictions on religion were rated high or very high in 40% of the countries worldwide, up from 34% in 2014.
Washington, DC, was chosen as the site for the Summit because it provides high security with friendly media coverage and a host government legally committed to upholding religious freedom because of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
Franklin Graham issued a statement explaining his purpose in sponsoring the event, saying, “I want the politicians to see firsthand what’s taking place. I want to put a big spotlight on the Christians around the world who are being persecuted, who are being tortured.”
He also urged Americans to contact President Donald Trump, and their elected officials, to increase enforcement of the International Religious Freedoms Act of 1998 by appointing an Ambassador at Large to address human rights violations. The post is now vacant.
According to Open Doors USA, the world’s top 10 violators of religious freedom are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea. Over 95% of the governments in the Muslim Middle East North Africa countries have used force against religious minorities in 2015.
Graham called on Christians to organize prayer for those enduring persecution, prison, rape and violence for the sake of Jesus Christ.
ASSIST News Service (ANS) is among the accredited media covering the event, the first World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.
It is being held in downtown Washington, DC where hotel rooms are running $320-$370 a night. Reporters for ANS are volunteers and must raise their own funds to cover the costs involved in covering this and other important events. (ANS goes out at no charge to many thousands of of media outlets and subscribers).
Operation Esther leader Ivy Bray will lead the OSM Operation Esther Prayer Team to the event May 11 in Washington, DC.
Also, students from the University of Virginia, and other nearby schools, are being invited to join the Operation Esther Prayer Circle to worship and intercede for the Summit during the event and pray on-site with insight. For details of this, please contact my wife, Ivy, at my e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 434-227-0812 or 227-0811.
Community prayer partners will gather at the Charlottesville Amtrak Station at 6:30 am tomorrow (Thursday, May 11, 2017) for a prayer-outreach to Washington.
Photo captions: 1) US VP, Mike Pence. 2) ISIS’s medieval beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach. 3) Franklin Graham with his famous father, Dr. Billy Graham. 4) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray is a Christian journalist who specializes in missions and student ministries. He is the author of Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life from WestBow Press, a division of Zondervan. Those who want to support his work at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians may send designated contributions to www.OSMission.org, using Gift Code: WSP-2017. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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