Christians to stay silent for persecuted church

Christians in the UK and Ireland will be staying silent in solidarity with Christians silenced for their faith around the world.

The sponsored silence takes place on 25 November and is being organised by Release International.

Funds raised by the initiative will go towards the charity's work supporting victims of persecution like Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy.

Christians are also being asked to remember:

· Chinese Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the authorities and is back behind bars.

· Iranian pastor Behnam Irani, arrested while leading a Bible study, and severely beaten in jail. There is widespread concern over his deteriorating health.

· 17-year-old Eva Abdullah from Tanzania, who has been jailed for two years after being accused of desecrating the Koran.

· Eritrean evangelist Mussie Ezaz, who was arrested in 2007 and is in prison in the capital Asmara.

Release chief executive Paul Robinson said: "Sometimes actions speak louder than words and by purposefully keeping quiet you will actually raise the issue of persecution with those around you."

He continued: "Your lips may be sealed, but don’t be silent in prayer! Please pray in your heart for the many Christians worldwide whose governments or peoples are trying to silence them because of their stand for Christ.

"We encourage you to get as many people at your church involved as possible – whether it’s to take part in the event or support those who are. We need your support to continue helping these courageous Christians."