WASHINGTON, May 13, 2017—Following an intense three days of personal stories of persecution and discussions focused on solutions and solidarity, Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced the final declaration from this week’s World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.
The summit, held May 10–13 in Washington, convened more than 600 people from 130 countries, including many who have endured brutal persecution because of their Christian faith. It’s a situation that has grown to crisis levels around the world.
“I spent time this week with two men whose brothers were among the Coptic Christians marched out on the beach in Libya and viciously beheaded by ISIS for refusing to deny Christ—then the video published for all the world to see….Someone from Mexico who was repeatedly beaten, their church burned, and the people from the church made to leave at gunpoint and walk over broken glass, barefoot as they left the city. The stories go on and on,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
“We may think that in the United States we are far removed from such persecution, but we are not. We have a responsibility to pray for those enduring suffering because they carry the name of Christ.”
During the summit’s final session, a declaration was presented that calls on all followers of Christ to declare their allegiance with those who suffer for Christ’s name, and make the following pledge:
To promote awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them in their time of need.
To pray unceasingly, urging other believers throughout the world to pray for those being persecuted, that the whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless.
To provide practical assistance, whenever possible, to the persecuted church.
To work with individuals, organizations and government agencies, encouraging them to act as advocates on behalf of the persecuted because of their faith in Christ Jesus.
To follow the biblical mandate to comfort and edify one another so that we exemplify Christ’s love and transforming power, even in the midst of hardship.
To strengthen the worldwide witness of the church around the world through biblical proclamation-evangelism, and to do so boldly, unapologetically and without compromise.
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the summit, bringing greetings from President Trump and expressing support from the White House for people facing persecution because of their faith.
“The reality is, across the wider world, the Christian faith is under siege. Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ,” said Pence this week when addressing summit attendees.
Reinforcing the need for global powers to work together to tackle this crisis and help persecuted Christians, Franklin Graham and Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church also issued a joint statement calling for prayer and cooperation.
In their statement they stressed “the importance of Russia and the United States setting aside their differences and working together to combat terrorism and protect Christians who are actively suffering persecution, especially in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.”
The full text of the joint statement is available here.
Additional support from Capitol Hill came from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Immediately after speaking at the summit on Thursday, Lankford announced to reporters that he, along with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had introduced a bipartisan resolution (S.Res.162) to affirm the commitment of the United States to promote religious freedom and condemn persecution based on faith. The resolution also encourages President Trump to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the State Department.
Contact: DeMoss: 770-813-0000