Spotlight will focus on the Suffering at Historic summit

By Bill Bray, Special Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

How should Christians love their enemies and respond to the growing wave of genocide and persecution around the world? Over 600 Christian leaders from 130 countries are gathering behind closed doors for the first-time next week to plan a strategic, global response.

The invitation-only event in Washington is sponsored by 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 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 with his famous father, Dr. Billy Graham.

Franklin Graham, organizer of the event issued a statement explaining his purpose in sponsoring the event, “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 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 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 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 ASSIST News are volunteers and must raise their own funds to cover the costs involved in covering this and other events. ASSIST News goes out at no charge to 2,200 media outlets with thousands of other subscribers.

Students from the University of Virginia and other schools are being invited to join the Operation Esther Prayer Circle to worship and intercede for the Summit during the event and pray onsite with insight. For details contact Ivy at, 434-227-0812 or 227-0811.

Locally, students and community prayer partners will gather at the Charlottesville Amtrack Station at 6:30 am May 11 for a prayer-outreach to Washington.

Source: ASSIST News