Dear prayer partners,

2020 has been a difficult year! There has also been an estimated 6% increase in persecution against Christians. According to Open Doors about 260 million Christians in the world experience high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ – that is 1-in-9 Christians worldwide. A recent survey of freedom of religion in 198 nations, by the Pew Research Centre, concluded that 40% of the world faces significant hindrance in worshiping God freely.

Persecution comes in various forms, and can come directly from governments, or from society, or both. Non-state ‘actors’, such as terror groups, can also be a primary source of persecution. In January 2020, protests and prayer sessions were launched in Nigeria after the beheading of a Pastor by Boko Haram two weeks earlier, the protest was directed at the Nigerian government’s failure to stop abductions and killings.

In November 2020, a Christian woman was shot and killed publicly in Pakistan by two Muslim men. She was reportedly confronted and killed while she was on her way to work. According to her family, she was harassed for about six months by a Muslim man who tried to force a relationship with her, however, she refused his advances due to the difference in faith backgrounds.

According to the latest Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (no.578), anti-blasphemy sentiment is currently soaring throughout much of the Muslim world and tensions in Indonesia and Egypt are running particularly high. In Indonesia, only weeks after a famous firebrand anti-blasphemy campaigning cleric returned from Saudi Arabia to lead a ‘moral (anti-blasphemy) revolution’, four Salvation Army servants of Christ were ritually killed in Central Sulawesi. In Minya, Upper Egypt, Muslims rioted – stoning, looting, and burning Christian homes, businesses, and farms – after rumours spread that a Coptic youth had posted a message to his Facebook account deemed insulting to Islam. Churches in Indonesia and Egypt are routinely targeted in terror attacks, especially over Easter and Christmas

The Christmas season often results in an intense strain on vulnerable Christians around the world and, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the persecution believers are facing this year is even greater than usual. Let us unite our hearts in this season for those who are persecuted, and in the spirit of Christ, let us not forget those who persecute – many of whom have come to Christ because of the witness of those they persecute. We need to respond as Jesus did on the cross when He prayed for His persecutors: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Please join with us in praying for persecutors, and those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24)