On Easter Sunday, the world woke up to the horrific news that Christians in Sri Lanka had been killed while meeting to worship.
“It seems to me that people woke up in other ways as well. They woke up to the truth – the plain, brutal, undeniable fact that these people were attacked for one reason and one reason alone: they were Christians," our CEO, Henrietta Blyth, wrote in an email to Open Doors supporters.
For over 25 years, Open Doors has released research into the scope and scale of persecution of Christians in the form of the World Watch List. For over 25 years, Open Doors has been giving a voice to the voiceless and saying that Christians around the world are being persecuted.
Because persecution isn't going away; in fact, it's growing. Last year, we reported that 215 million Christians are persecuted for their faith. In 2019, we revised that figure to 245 million - an increase of 30 million. That’s one in ten Christians globally. In Asia the statistics are even more shocking, with one in three Christians at risk of persecution. Why? Because they dare to follow Jesus.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
On Boxing Day last year, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a review into whether the UK government is doing all it can to support persecuted Christians. The first part of this review has been released. The interim report sets the scene and tells of the horrific atrocities facing Christians.
“The interim report is grim reading," said Henrietta. "It reinforces over 25 years of World Watch List research and is long overdue. It shows that many countries are denying their citizens the fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief despite being signed up to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The recent attacks on churches in Sri Lanka show that change is needed urgently. The UK government needs to work with religious leaders who stay serving in the most dangerous places. It needs to recognise, as the report shows, that vulnerabilities around faith and religion are as important as vulnerabilities around gender, ethnicity, disability or age.
“Enough is enough - it is time the world woke up to the fact that persecution is happening every day. Everyone, no matter what their faith, should be free to worship without fear."
Open Doors will continue to campaign for freedom of religion or belief. We are urging the UK government to use its influence to exert pressure, so that governments around the world make fundamental policy changes which ensure that Christians and other religious minorities are free to follow the faith of their choice.
When announcing the review, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “I would like this exercise to consider some tough questions and offer ambitious policy recommendations."
Let’s pray that it will do just that - that the government will join with Henrietta in saying “enough is enough" and will recognise, through its policy, the vulnerability of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
YOU CAN KEEP HOPE ALIVE FOR THE CHURCH IN SRI LANKA
Open Doors workers are currently meeting with the churches in Sri Lanka affected by the bombings to assess how we can meet their needs. We have stood beside the church in Sri Lanka for many years - not only through supporting victims of violence, but also providing Bibles, legal aid and persecution survival training.
With your help, we will be there for as long as they need us.
£51 could enable Open Doors’ local teams in Sri Lanka to provide rapid relief for believers who have been impacted by persecution.
Prayer is a privilege and one of the most powerful ways we can engage with and support our persecuted church family. If you’re struggling to know what to pray for the church in Sri Lanka in the face of these horrific attacks, then take a look at our simple prayer guide which can help you and your church to pray.