'We trust Jesus to walk with you': Persecuted Christians around the world pray for Manchester

Flowers and messages of condolence for the victims of the Manchester attack.Reuters

Normally, it is Christians in the West who are accustomed to being asked to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

But now, persecuted Christians are themselves joining in prayer – for the victims of the Manchester terror attack.

According to the Christian persecution charity Open Doors, believers in some of the countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian have shared their messages of support.

'It is precisely because they live under the constant threat of terrorism and violence that they are able to empathise with all of those caught up in this terrible attack,' said Open Doors.

One nun in Pakistan, who has helped many victims of terror in her own country, said: 'I was a student in Manchester for three years. There, God called me to serve his Church. There I met people who prayed for the persecuted Church. I was moved by how believers really did pray for those who are suffering.

'Today, my team and I remember our praying friends and family in the UK. Today, we assure you that in your pain and grief and shock, in the trauma and tragedy of it all, we are standing by you and trusting Jesus, Emmanuel, to walk with you and comfort you and wipe your tears. We journey together.'

A pastor from Bangladesh said: 'I am shocked to hear this news as the UK is a highly protected country. I'm praying for the affected people and their families; may God pour His love and blessing over them. May God change the minds of the people who are behind the brutal attack, that they may also be caught by the fear of God. At the same time, we praying for our country, that God will save us all from these kinds of attacks.'

A church worker in Malaysia said: 'I pray for those who have lost loved ones that God will comfort them in their sorrows. I also pray that this tragedy will help open our eyes to see the great need to share the truth of Jesus to all; for only His love can help them lay down their bombs.'

A young Christian, also from Malaysia, said: 'The first thought that came to my mind after I heard the bombing was "Why did he do it?" I cannot understand the reason why that man blew himself up and took the lives of others as well. But I can understand how you, our brothers and sisters in UK, feel. My heart goes out to you and I pray for God to comfort you in your grief.'

Photo of secret church leaders in Vietnam praying for Manchester, blurred to protect identitiesOpen Doors

A Christian from north east India said of the victims: 'May God comfort them and lead them through these trying times.'

And a Christian from Sri Lanka said: 'We condemn this horrendous act and our hearts go out to the families that lost their loved ones and others affected. Be strong Manchester! May God heal your emotional and physical wounds.'

In Laos, a Christian brother said: 'God never leaves his people as orphans. He will come to you. Be encouraged.'

And in Vietnam, five Christian groups took time to pray for Manchester. 'We ask God to forgive ISIS and to comfort the people in Manchester and the UK.' The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester, although this has not been verified.

All of these countries are on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List, the annual ranking of the 50 countries where persecuted against Christians is most extreme. Pakistan is number four, India is number 15, Laos is 24, Bangladesh is 26, Malaysia is 31, Sri Lanka is 45.