"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASING

    More than 365 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, 317 million Christians face very high or extreme ­levels.  The 2024 World Watch ranking is:

    Extreme Persecution
      1. North Korea
      2. Somalia
      3. Libya
      4. Eritrea
      5. Yemen
      6. Nigeria
      7. Pakistan
      8. Sudan
      9. Iran
    10. Afghanistan
    11. India
    Very High Persecution
    12. Syria
    13. Saudi Arabia
    14. Mali
    15. Algeria
    16. Iraq
    17. Myanmar
    18. Maldives
    19. China
    20. Burkina Faso
    21. Laos
    22. Cuba
    23. Mauritania
    24. Morocco
    25. Uzbekistan
    26. Bangladesh
    27. Niger
    28. Central African Republic
    29. Turkmenistan
    30. Nicaragua
    31. Oman
    32. Ethiopia
    33. Tunisia
    34. Colombia
    35. Vietnam
    36. Bhutan
    37. Mexico
    38. Egypt
    39. Mozambique
    40. Qatar
    41. Congo DR
    42. Indonesia
    43. Cameroon
    44. Brunei
    45. Comoros
    46. Tajikistan
    47. Kazakhstan
    48. Jordan
    49. Malaysia
    50. Turkey

    Once again, North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world for Christians.  Being discovered as a follower of Jesus is effectively a death sentence.  In 2023, the country strengthened its border with China so it is harder for Christians to flee and harder for support to reach them.

    Algeria has gone up four places on the World Watch List, with a disturbing increase in persecution.  Previously, there were 47 Protestant churches in the country.  Now only four remain open, and they are under intense pressure.

    At least 10,000 churches closed in China during 2023.  Most were house churches but official churches are under pressure too.  New regulations mean churches must display signs reading, “Love the Communist Party, love the country, love the religion.”

    Political instability, war and extremism has created a perilous situation for Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Amid lawlessness, jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have thrived.  Weak governments fail to stop them.  And militants attack Christian communities and churches with impunity.  Most Christians murdered for their faith in 2023 were killed in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Many more Christians have also been forced from their homes.  Of 34.5 million displaced people across Sub-Saharan Africa, around 16.2 million are Christians.

    More than 14,700 churches or Christian properties such as schools and hospitals were targeted in 2023.  It marked a six-fold increase compared with attacks recorded the previous year.

    Open Doors’ website provides country profiles with information, stories and prayers for each of the countries.

    – opendoors.org

    Please pray for strength for believers to endure the pain and pressure of persecution and to remain courageous and resolute.  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. 

 

 PERSECUTION WORSENING IN CHINA

    Christian persecution in China is the worst it has been in 40 years, according to Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid.  “...The persecution against the Christians and other religious minorities has really reached the worst level we have not seen in 40 years since the Cultural Revolution….  For the first time, we have seen the Communist Party is cracking down on the church across the board; literally declared a war against Christianity.”

    He says Chinese censorship efforts especially target Christian youth.  “For the first time, millions of Chinese children were forced to sign a form – these are Christian children – to renounce their faith in public.”

    Communist leaders also continue to remove crosses from church buildings.  “Even the government-sanctioned churches have been targeted for persecution,” says Fu.  “Those pastors who refuse to voluntarily destroy, remove, and demolish their crosses have been facing huge risks of persecution.”

    Furthermore, Chinese Christians know their every move is increasingly watched as China embraces digitalized social monitoring.  Fu says, “The government-sanctioned churches, every church pulpit and four corners of the church have to install facial recognition cameras so that they can monitor the congregation – whether there’s any children, there’s any youth under 18 years old, any Communist Party member, any Communist Youth League member, any civil servant, or any police or military service member.  These are all forbidden to even enter into the church building.”

    Pray for Chinese believers to be steadfast in their faith.  Pray for the growth of the Chinese church despite persecution, that faithful disciples would multiply and that the Word of the Gospel would be known!

    – Information by permission of Mission Network News, mnnonline.org.

 

INCREASED SUFFERING IN SUDAN

    More than 7.5 million people are on the run after nine months of war in Sudan.  Two generals began vying for control of the nation in mid-April 2023, and the fighting has not stopped since.

    “As a nation, they’ve grown up in war; Sudan had Africa’s longest civil war that lasted 22 years.  But this war is different,” says John*, a Gospel worker focused in Sudan.  “This war affects every group in the country.”

    Fighting has now reached Sudan’s “breadbasket” in Aj Jazirah State, which also serves as a hub for relief efforts.  A United Nations official says 25 million people will need help surviving this year.  Yet heavy rains and widespread conflict make it impossible for aid trucks to reach those in need.

    Meanwhile, genocide continues to go unchecked.  “Sudan has been on the top of the list of those (countries) persecuting Christians.  But they are also on the top of the list [for] ethnic persecution of non-Arab, black African tribes, and using rape as a weapon of war to change the balance of power inside Sudan,” John says.

    When the war started, church leaders began helping refugees and displaced families.  “Trauma is now built to volcanic levels inside Sudan,” John says.  “We have [teams] from different language groups that are working among their people [in] trauma healing, [and] there is openness to the Gospel at a level that has not been seen before.”

    – Information by permission of Mission Network News, mnnonline.org.

    Pray for the fighting and genocide to stop and for aid to reach those who are displaced, suffering and in such need.  Pray for those working to share the Gospel and the love of Christ, and that many Sudanese will find hope in the Lord and His Word.

    * Pseudonym

 

PRAYER FOR ISRAEL

    As the war continues between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas, experts and leaders in the Middle East are growing increasingly concerned about a second war breaking out in Israel along the Lebanese border following deadly clashes between the terrorist group Hezbollah and Israel’s military.  Israel and Lebanon share a 50-mile border to Israel’s north.  Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group, operates out of Lebanon.  A former Israel Defense Forces spokesman points out that Hezbollah is more capable than Hamas.  “We’re talking about 130,000 rockets,” he said.  "We’re talking about bigger payloads and we’re talking about much bigger range, including high-quality weapons that can strike specific locations in Israel, which Hamas does not possess, and many other weapons that Hezbollah has been provided by the Iranians.”  – ChristianHeadlines.com

    Regarding Iran’s influence, Israeli President Isaac Herzog says Iran is the main reason for the Middle East turmoil.  “There is an empire of evil emanating from Tehran, spending billions of dollars in arms and money and people’s well-being to derail the entire stability of the world and the region,” he explained.  “…They have proxies all over the region quietly lurking to undermine any peace process and any stability of the world and that is exactly what we are seeing.”

    – cbn.com

    Please pray for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas, for the well-being and return of hostages, and for healing for all of the injured.  Pray also for all of the innocent Palestinians and Israelis who are displaced and suffering because of the war.  Pray that war will not break out along the Lebanese border between Hezbollah and Israel.  Pray for the downfall of Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations and sponsors.  Pray against the influence of Iran in the region and beyond.  Pray for the Lord to pour out mercy upon many Israelis and Palestinians during this time, opening their eyes to the salvation and hope that are in Christ alone.

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