PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASING
More than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. The World Watch List is Open Door’s annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. In the top 50 countries alone, 312 million Christians face very high or extreme levels. The 2023 World Watch ranking is:
1. North Korea
Very High Persecution
13. Saudi Arabia
23. Burkina Faso
24. Central African Republic
37. Democratic Republic of the Congo
One disturbing trend is that violence against Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa has reached new heights. Jihadists are destabilizing countries in West and Central Africa. Entire countries are at risk of collapse into extremist violence. Twenty-six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa face high levels of persecution; half of these have violence levels in the “extremely high” range. The jihadist movement, which seeks to expand sharia law across the continent, has forced Christians into constant motion, from their homes to displacement camps, or to other countries. The insecurity stemming from this experience of forced displacement makes Christians even more vulnerable to further violence. Christian women, in particular, can be easily targeted for sexual attack, while men are more likely to lose their lives.
Other trends noted in the World Watch List include: China’s model of oppression is spreading throughout authoritarian states; the church in the Middle East is reduced and still under pressure; and conditions for the church has worsened in Latin America.
Open Doors’ mission is to ensure that persecuted Christians do not suffer alone, but are connected to the worldwide church for support and encouragement. Please pray for strength for believers to endure the pain and pressure of persecution. Pray for the Lord’s provision for those who are facing poverty, loneliness and isolation. Pray for believers to be wise and bold in sharing their faith, and that despite the challenges, people will come to Christ. Pray that Christians under persecution will remain courageous and resolute.
Open Doors’ website provides country profiles with information, stories and prayers for each of the countries.
DRC CHURCH ATTACKED
In January, extremists bombed a Pentecostal church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing 17 and wounding 39. The attack took place in the eastern Kasindi region. The bomb went off during a Sunday morning worship celebration.
The DRC military blamed a rebel group affiliated with Islamic State. Their goal, according to Todd Nettleton (The Voice of the Martyrs USA), is to set up a caliphate in the region, forcing everyone to live by their definition of sharia law. Islamic extremism is making inroads across Africa, working its way South.
– Information by permission from Mission Network News, mnnonline.org
Pray for those suffering and grieving from this attack. Pray for the powers of evil to be broken and for the church in DRC and throughout Africa to prevail.
PEACEMAKING BETWEEN KENYAN TRIBES
Kenyan Christians are working to bring peace between the prominent Luo and Kalenjin tribes. Young men from the Kalenjin tribe, urged on by their elders, often stole cows from the Luo. Bloodshed followed. Corrupt local politicians even took advantage of the situation for their own gain.
Pastor Felix, a partner with Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), however, had a vision for reconciliation, and since implementing evangelism and discipleship outreach with sports competition and Good News clubs, the inter-tribal crime rate has dropped 93 percent. This is amazing, and even other tribes are taking note of the change that has happened. Between the two tribes, over 900 have become followers of Jesus in the past year.
A leader with FMI shares that a few weeks ago, Pastor Felix “trained 70 adults from the two tribes to launch even more Good News clubs. It was an opportunity for these two rival tribes, the adults, to come together in a single training. And it has really revolutionized the life of the tribe.” One of the adults involved in the training said, “Now I really have a responsibility to stand in the gap for lasting peace in our community, and propagate love to everyone, no matter their tribe, their language, or their skin color.”
Pray healing will continue between the Luo and Kalenjin. Pray the Good News clubs would grow greatly, not only in numbers but in the love of Jesus.
– Information by permission from Mission Network News, mnnonline.org
MAF PILOT IMPRISONED
As of January, Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) continued to seek the release of pilot and mechanic Ryan Koher who has been wrongfully detained by Mozambican authorities since November 4, 2022. Ryan is a pilot for Ambassador Aviation Ltd., which is a partner of U.S.-based non-profit MAF. He, along with two South African nationals, were imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism following the seizure of supplies meant for an orphanage during a routine airport scan. The two South Africans had brought in the supplies for the orphanage. The flight bound for northern Mozambique raised more suspicion since conflict in the region is rife. There is a general mistrust of foreigners who handle goods in the area. Before the supplies were even loaded onto the plane, the police seized them and detained Ryan and the two South Africans on suspicion of supporting insurgents. In actuality, Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, and has been conducting these annual supply charter flights to the orphanages since 2014.
The three men were originally imprisoned in Inhambane but have since been relocated to the Machava Maximum Security Prison near Maputo. Hopefully, Ryan is released by the time of this reading, but if not, please pray for his safety and release, for those in power both in Mozambique and the U.S. to do all they can to resolve this wrongful detainment. Ryan’s wife says that he “could use prayer for peace and comfort in this time as he’s alone in his cell. He doesn’t get much interaction with other people. ...[Pray] that he would be able to continue to lean on the Lord, that his relationship with God would deepen during this time, and that God would open up doors for ministry while he’s detained.”
The conditions at the maximum security prison are better than the previous prison. In one of Ryan’s letters to MAF from the prison, he writes, “Whatever path God has me take, He has work for me to complete and I need not fear in the face of suffering because I am united with Christ. These things are very comforting to me because I know He will be with me and has a purpose in it all. Please pray He will help me conduct myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel so that I will not be frightened by those who oppose me.”
Pray also for the overall work and safety of MAF. For more than 75 years MAF’s ministry has been to use small aircraft to help share the love of Jesus and to help the Gospel spread to hard-to-reach areas around the world, so that isolated people will be physically and spiritually transformed. Collectively, MAF’s fleet of 135 airplanes serves some 1,500 mission agencies, churches, and humanitarian organizations in 37 different countries.
– Information by permission from Mission Network News, mnnonline.org and maf.org.
PRAYER FOR ISRAEL
Please pray for:
• The new Israeli government
• The new Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu)
• Israel’s security among their enemies
• Increase of immigration from around the world
• New immigrants settling in Israel
• Against terrorist attacks
• Improving Jewish-Arab relations