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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Graham Brady
Dr Lisa Cameron
Marsha De Cordova
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Dame Andrea Leadsom
Stuart C. McDonald
Sir Desmond Swayne
Sir Stephen Timms
Dr Jamie Wallis
Sir Jeremy Wright
Bishop of Truro
*Names changed for security reasons
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.
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.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.