5 million more persecuted believers in 2023

The global persecution of Christians continues to rise, Open Doors has reported.

According to the organisation’s annual World Watch List, over 365 million believers face persecution – up 5 million on 2022.

Across the world, one in seven Christians still experiences hostility, with 4,998 Christians killed for their faith last year, the majority – 90 per cent – in Nigeria.

‘There is hope’

Speaking at the report’s parliamentary launch, Open Doors CEO Henrietta Blyth suggested that “under the cover of chaos” in sub-Saharan Africa, violence against Christians had “intensified”.

10,000 churches closed in China

Referring to Nicaragua, which has climbed 20 places in the list, and China, where 10,000 churches were closed last year, she observed: “Elsewhere, the noose is tightening around the church’s neck as autocratic governments increase their control.”

Blyth told the gathered parliamentarians: “The World Watch List paints a grim picture. But there is hope. Prayer and action work.”

“Despite all the opposition, more and more people are coming to faith in Jesus and churches continue to be a force for good in the communities they serve.”

Record high

Addressing the meeting, a Christian from Iran explained: “In 2023, more Christians were arrested, sentenced, and had their homes raided than in the previous year.

“It turned out to be the year with the highest number of reported incidents of arrests and imprisonments in the Christian community.

“The growing number of Christians leaving Iran reflects the difficult challenges they confront, leading them to leave their homes, families, and loved ones.”

North Korea

North Korea remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, topping the World Watch List for the twentieth time.

Open Doors believes that many of the country’s 400,000 believers “are being held in labour camps and prisons for their faith”.

“Meeting for worship is extremely dangerous and must be done in utmost secrecy – and at grave risk. In May 2023, five members of a family were arrested as they gathered for prayer and Bible study.”

One secret believer told the organisation: “The thing I give thanks for the most is that Father God uses me to work as His servant. I desire to dedicate my life, until death, to glorify Him.”

Also see:

Beyond Utopia: Harrowing documentary on North Korea should drive us to pray

Human rights group: ‘Media ignoring genocide levels of Christian persecution’

Violence in India kills scores of Christians and turns churches to ashes

China attempts to ‘eliminate visible presence of Christianity’

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