Christians of different denominations across the globe are preparing to mark the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. Also known as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, the commemoration is observed every first Sunday of November, and is celebrated through prayer for all Christians persecuted for their faith.
This year, the celebration falls on November 7. So churches are now getting ready to commemorate this solemn day by raising awareness on the persecution of Christians around the world. Organizations are also trying to help and assist Christians living in “hotspots” of Christian persecution, so that they may stop living in fear. (Read: 4 Modern-Day Martyrs Whose Deaths Changed the World)
‘One in eight’
According to data by Open Doors, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians, one in eight Christians around the world live in countries where they may be persecuted for their faith. “That’s one in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America,” their report said.
They added that more than 340 million Christians are living in countries where “they might suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith.” Among them, 309 million face high to extreme levels of persecution.
During the period of the Open Doors report–from October 2019 to September 2020–they found that “4,761 Christians were killed for their faith, 4,488 Churches or Christian buildings were attacked, 4,277 Christians were unjustly arrested, detained or imprisoned, 1,710 Christians were abducted for faith-related reasons.” If computed daily, that is 13 Christians persecuted every day.
For the 20th consecutive year, North Korea ranked number one as the top persecutor of Christians. Reports say that Christians in the country either face detention in labor camps as political criminals or worse, face imminent death. (Read: Feast Day Prayer to Saint Stephen, the First Martyr)
Several African and Middle Eastern countries are also included in the top 10, namely Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, and Nigeria. For the first time in six years, Sudan was not part of the top 10 after it abolished the death penalty for apostasy, and “guaranteeing freedom of religion in its new Constitution after three decades of Islamic Law.”
India has been included in the top 10 for the third consecutive year as “it continues to see an increase in violence against religious minorities due to government sanctioned Hindu extremism.”