Churches to meet outdoors on Sunday for persecuted Christians
Christians forced to worship outdoors because their churches have been destroyed will be remembered across the UK and Ireland on Sunday.
Congregations will brave potential thunderstorms by hosting open air church services, in solidarity with persecuted believers around the world.
It forms part of the Great Outdoors Church Service organised by the UK-based charity Release International.
Spokesperson, Andrew Boyd told Premier: "In many cases, the [persecuted] Christians are going out in the streets because they want to maintain their witness.
"They're meeting in parks come rain or shine - even come snow in some cases; we've seen the pictures from China of faithful Christians meeting in the snow."
The initiative is also raising awareness of Christian communities who feel pressured into meeting secretly or whose churches have been shut down by hostile governments.
Encouraging more churches to get involved, Andrew Boyd said: "We have amazing freedom in this country to do whatever we like really without the risk of persecution.
"It's ever so easy to take that freedom for granted, so why don't we just take a very small risk; the really small risk is that it's probably going to rain but never mind."
The Great Outdoors Church Service campaign is highlighting countries such as China, where church buildings have been knocked down and tears have been removed.
Participants are being encouraged to consider how they might use their freedom "to the full" in supporting believers who are being persecuted for their faith.
Andrew Boyd added: "I think compassion begins with identifying with people.
"We can hear about situations but it's only really when you stand in their shoes and really relate to them that you understand how they feel and what they're going through.
"We're asking people to do that almost literally, to get step outside in the open air and say 'let's pray for these folks'."
Release International, which is marking its 50th anniversary in 2018, works in more than 30 countries, supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and distributing Christian literature and Bibles.
Click here to listen to Release International spokesperson Andrew Boyd speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogan:
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