Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - 95 MPs hear from the persecuted church at World Watch List 2023 launch - Open Doors UK & Ireland
19 January 2023

95 MPs hear from the persecuted church at World Watch List 2023 launch

This year’s turnout at the World Watch List launch saw more than 90 MPs attend – all thanks to you! All those in attendance heard from persecuted Christians from North Korea, East Africa and India. Please continue to pray for the impact of the launch – and make sure your MP has a copy of the 2023 report. 

World Watch List launch 2023

L-R: Timothy Cho from North Korea, Rt Hon. Stephen Timms MP and Henrietta Blyth

Thank you so much for your prayers for the parliamentary launch of this year’s Open Doors World Watch List – and for the thousands of you who invited your MP. Thanks to you, those in power across the political spectrum heard research and recommendations about Christian persecution – and, most importantly, the powerful testimonies of persecuted believers.

At the event, hosted by the Rt Hon. Stephen Timms MP, MPs and parliamentarians heard from persecuted believers from North Korea, Africa and India. Timms opened by thanking supporters for continuing to invite their MPs to the launch. He also paid tribute to Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, who passed away last year at the age of 94.

Number of countries where Christians face persecution doubles in 30 years 

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, started the launch by reminding MPs of the intensifying persecution of Christians across the world. “Since 1993, both the intensity and spread of persecution of Christians worldwide has dramatically increased. In the past 30 years, the number of countries in which Christians face high to extreme levels of persecution has nearly doubled from 40 countries to 76.

“There is no question that life is becoming more difficult for Christians in many countries,” she continued, “and yet, against all the odds, faith continues to grow when people are forced to choose between Jesus and the death of all they hold dear. Sustained pressure is refining the church.”

World Watch List launch 2023

L-R: Stephen Timms MP and Henrietta Blyth with Fiona Bruce MP - the current Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Henrietta finished by asking the UK government to ‘ensure that the role of Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief becomes permanently established in statute’ – a role that is currently held by Fiona Bruce MP, who also attended the launch.

Powerful testimonies from North Korea, India and East Africa  

Timothy Cho

Timothy Cho* (right) then spoke about what life is like for Christians in North Korea, which returns to number one on the World Watch List 2023 (after dropping down one place last year to number two). “The [North Korean] regime aims to wipe out every Christian in the country,” he said. “Christianity itself is seen as a national security risk, and every new piece of legislation targets Christians as the first to be eliminated.”

Fikiru* from East Africa addressed the spreading violence and persecution across the region, from both Islamic militants and the Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches. “In November last year, 48 believers were sent to jail in Eritrea because they were caught praying in underground churches,” he said. He also mentioned how the progress towards greater freedom of religion or belief in the country seems to be unravelling – especially after the military coup last year.

Shruti* from India shared her testimony via a pre-recorded interview, how she was beaten multiple times by her father and ostracised by her family for her faith in Jesus. “Christians in India faced many challenges,” she told MPs. “Persecution can take the form of violent assault, harassment, wrongful arrest or even sexual assault and murder. And often we get no help from the police. However, the church in India is growing, particularly among the lowest Dalit or untouchable caste.

“So many Christians and other religious minorities in India face an uncertain future. I welcome the work of Open Doors in bringing this suffering to the attention of people around the world.”

World Watch List launch 2023

Henrietta told MPs how the number of countries where Christians experience high levels of persecution has almost doubled in 30 years

Timothy finished by asking the UK government to act on what they’ve heard. “Seventy-five years of totalitarian rule [in North Korea] hasn't succeeded in destroying hope, faith or love. That's why I'm here to challenge you to act today.”

Send an advocacy report to your MP 

Thank you for praying for the event, and for inviting your MP. As Stephen Timms said in his opening remarks, “What always strikes me about the [Open Doors] launch is that lots and lots of MPs get contacted by their constituents who say, ‘We really, really want you to come up to the launch of the annual World Watch List,’ and, of course, having got that instruction, we all come!

“And it does reflect, I think, the very, very strong support that Open Doors has around the country – the deep, deep commitment of supporters of the organisation to its work.”

You can find out whether your MP attended, below. If they did, why not send them a thank you message? If they weren’t able to, you can send them a copy of the World Watch List 2023 report.

MPs who attended the 2023 launch

Fleur Anderson
Edward Argar
Victoria Atkins
Siobhan Baillie
Sir Peter Bottomley
Ben Bradshaw
Sir Graham Brady
Steven Brine
Lyn Brown
Fiona Bruce
Dr Lisa Cameron
Daisy Cooper
Jon Cruddas
Wayne David
Mims Davies
Philip Davies
Marsha De Cordova
Martin Docherty-Hughes
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Flick Drummond
David Duguid
Ruth Edwards
Florence Eshalomi
Tim Farron
Stephen Farry
Anna Firth
Mark Fletcher
Kevin Foster
Louie French
Richard Fuller
Patricia Gibson
Jo Gideon
Paul Girvan
John Glen

Mary Glindon
Margaret Greenwood
Luke Hall
Sally-Ann Hart
Antony Higginbotham
Phillip Hollobone
Jane Hunt
Jeremy Hunt
Ruth Jones
Gillian Keegan
Danny Kruger
Kwasi Kwarteng
Ben Lake
John Lamont
Dame Andrea Leadsom
Andrew Lewer
Marco Longhi
Julia Lopez
Angus MacNeil
Scott Mann
Rachael Maskell
Kerry McCarthy
Stuart C. McDonald
John McDonnell
Robin Millar
Navendu Mishra
Carol Monaghan
Layla Moran
Brendan O'Hara
Sarah Olney
Kirsten Oswald
Taiwo Owatemi
Sarah Owen
Ian Paisley

Chris Philp
Victoria Prentis
Mark Pritchard
Mary Robinson
Andrew Rossindell
Andrew Selous
Jim Shannon
Virendra Sharma
Barry Sheerman
Henry Smith
Cat Smith
John Spellar
Jamie Stone
Julian Sturdy
Sir Desmond Swayne
Derek Thomas
Nick Thomas-Symmonds
Sir Stephen Timms
Michael Tomlinson
Martin Vickers
Theresa Villiers
Dr Jamie Wallis
Matt Warman
Sammy Wilson
Pete Wishart
Sir Jeremy Wright
Rupa Huq

Lord Hylton
Bishop of Truro
Lord Alton

Florence Eshalomi
Florence Eshalomi
Tim Farron
Tim Farron
Jim Shannon
Jim Shannon
Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng
Dame Andrea Leadsom
Dame Andrea Leadsom
L-R: Stuart McDonald MP and Kirsten Oswald MP

*Names changed for security reasons

Send an advocacy report to your MP


If your MP wasn't at the launch, make sure they know what's happening to our persecuted church family around the world and how they can help by sending them a copy of the 2023 advocacy report.


Send a report

World Watch List top 50


You can order your free World Watch List Top 50 booklet to get detailed information about the 50 countries, inspiring testimonies and stories from the persecuted church, and prayers to help you stand with your risk-taking church family.


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