It was a night of solemn remembrance and passionate advocacy for the millions of Christians who suffer for their faith all around the world.
They came from all branches of Christianity and all points on the globe to assemble in Washington, DC, responding to Rev. Franklin Graham’s call. Six hundred Christians from 130 nations came to the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.
Some came to share their stories, others to hear and learn, but all came to do what they can to help fight persecution and to strengthen their brothers and sisters until it ends.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened the event in prayer, calling on God to give His people wisdom and fortitude in the face of suffering.
“Shepherd of Love, you have sent us as lambs in the midst of wolves, reminding us that in this world we will have trouble in spite of persecution; you enable us to have tough minds and tender hearts, making us wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” he prayed.
Quiet tones echoed through the hall when Ms. Rashin Soodman, whose father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity, rang a memorial bell seven times in remembrance of the martyred.
Representatives of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches addressed the gathering, including the Papal Nuncio, the pope’s official representative in America, and His Beatitude Tikhon, the Orthodox leader of All America and Canada.
Graham pointed out that the summit is not an ecumenical gathering, but representatives of all branches of the Christian faith were invited because all suffer alike.