Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) has released its annual Persecutors of the Year report. It names countries, groups and individuals that routinely persecute up to 300 million Christians for practicing their faith.
The ICC’s 88-page report names Pakistan, Nigeria, North Korea and India among the worst offending countries. It lists Afghanistan’s Taliban, multiple Islamic terror organisations and Myanmar’s military rulers as the worst group offenders. Individuals include China’s President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Indian Hindu nationalist leader Yogi Adityanath.
“We expose the evils of the persecutors in this report to awaken the West and encourage legislators to take action against those that jail, torture, and assassinate individuals for their religious beliefs. The 2023 Persecutors of the Year Report is a resource designed to support and protect Christians regardless of denomination or sect, but it also supports all religious peoples that are denied their God-given right to religious freedom,” says Jeff King, President of ICC.
Mr. King cites several flashpoints this year, including Pakistan “where a 5,000-strong mob of radical Muslims destroyed two dozen churches and hundreds of homes in the Christian enclave of Jaranwala. And in Nigeria, millions of Christians have suffered attacks from radical Muslims for the last 20 years resulting in a death toll that may be as high as one million, and the loss of three and a half million farms.”
“Across the globe, our brothers and sisters can be imprisoned or killed simply for identifying as a follower of Jesus. They are legally prevented from telling others about their faith and anti-conversion and blasphemy laws are used to falsely charge Christians with crimes,” Mr. King continued.
“We also want to shed light on how the Lord is working through the lives of the persecuted. After 20 years at the helm of International Christian Concern, I am inspired by the courage of Christians on the geographical fringes of our faith. They boldly witness and stand up to the persecutor. They are the very engine of the worldwide church. Our ‘glimmer of hope’ section [in the report] highlights their stories, and the growth of the underground church,” the ICC head concluded.
Meanwhile, churches around the world are being asked to pray for persecuted believers on Sunday (November 5). Several ministries are planning events to mark the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Release International is teaming up with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and the Evangelical Alliance for an online event to intercede for persecuted Christians. They echo the ICC view that millions of Christians face harassment, violence, and even death, for their faith.
Christian Today reports many cannot attend church or practice their faith out in the open. The faith organisations especially asked for prayers for Chinese pastor Wang Yee who is serving nine years in jail, simply for running a church. He prays that God will use him to convince his Communist Party jailers that there is a higher authority than them.