Leaders with "Save the Persecuted Christians" are on a mission to help Americans "adopt" persecuted Christians in war-torn Nigeria – by praying for them and bringing awareness to their struggles.
STPC is an educational charity that advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of persecuted Christians worldwide.
One advisory board member wants Americans to reach out to Nigerian Christians living in a country where persecution is common and intense.
"We wanted to help (Nigerians) get sustenance and support outside the government for their long-term survival," said Douglas Burton, the leader of the non-profit Prayer News Network and War Desk News, a citizen journalism project with the goal of bringing to light stories of persecution.
Burton worked as a State Department official in Iraq from 2005 to 2007, where he helped bring together American civil society organizations with those in Iraq wanting a fresh start.
He's also a freelance journalist, and this year he applied a similar idea while reporting on Boko Haram violence against Christians in Nigeria. For his stories, he reached out to Christians on the ground who were being persecuted and directly seeing the devastation.
"We were calling people to get information for stories in Nigeria," Burton explained. "Why not pray with them directly, too?"
His interview in April of a Roman Catholic priest ministering near a Boko Haram stronghold prompted him to form the Prayer News Network.
"His community had been attacked several times, and his cemetery was full of victims," Burton said. "We prayed together and cried together for resolution and aid."
That call led him to think of a way where private individuals could "adopt" a person living in a warzone and get involved in private citizenship diplomacy.
The interaction would involve prayer, as well as the victims reporting on the violence they were experiencing, thereby bringing awareness to Americans.
Burton says the prayer partners don't need to be of the same denomination or religion.
The Prayer News Network says calls between Americans and Nigerians are very inexpensive if not free through WhatsApp – the app that the organization encourages participants to use.
"Go around government and go around mainstream media," Burton said. "Go directly to citizen journalists who at least will post a story on their Facebook page or will get it to a responsible journalist."
"The government will take action if the media gets the story straight," he continued.
"I believe prayer with a stranger is a revolutionary act," Burton said. "It's a way of encountering 'the Other.' There's something special about praying with a total stranger."