It’s time to wake up to the realities of global persecution

(Global Christian Relief) — The situation has grown increasingly complex thanks to the emergence of new technologies and government entities becoming more digitally focused.

Nigerian police officers put tape around St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, Monday, June 6, 2022, a day after an attack that targeted worshippers. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

(Global Christian Relief) — Christian persecution has reached historically high levels and is exponentially growing around the world. Research shows 350 million Christians live in a nation where they are regularly attacked, discriminated against, falsely imprisoned, shunned from their communities and sometimes even killed for their faith.

The situation has grown increasingly complex thanks to the emergence of new technologies and government entities becoming more digitally focused. Bad actors now exploit electronic methods to harass Christians and religious minorities by freezing assets, banning social media communications and de-platforming them. Additionally, shifting geopolitical alliances and the rise of new authoritarian regimes have created potential difficulties for intervention.

China has already created the world’s most advanced anti-Christian surveillance state, using leading-edge technology such as facial recognition software to track the whereabouts and religious practices of Christians there. China’s president, Xi Jinping, labels Christians in the nation as “unpatriotic,” and Beijing has sent out strong messages to youth, teachers and parents that “religion will harm their education.”

In countries like North Korea, Christian persecution is expected to worsen this year. Kim Jong-Un’s regime views Christianity as a tool used by the United States and Western powers to colonize other countries and routinely utilizes propaganda to educate its citizens about the “dangers” of the Bible. Human rights organizations recently concluded that crimes against humanity continue on a massive scale, and Christians in particular are targeted and tortured. Those who are fortunate enough to escape North Korea find no refuge in China, as the Chinese government has indicated a willingness to deport defectors.

India has also become a hotbed of Christian persecution, where documented attacks surged by 81% between 2020 and 2021. At least 10 Indian states now have anti-conversion laws on the books, which is a legal way to force people into the religion of the state, criminalize religious conversions and threaten “offenders” with jail time and heavy fines. During this past Christmas season, more than 1,000 Christians were subjected to violence, with many forced to convert to Hinduism.

These examples are only the tip of the persecution iceberg. In Nigeria, Fulani extremists killed thousands of Christians and destroyed at least 17 villages in 2022. Christians who have remained in Afghanistan more than a year after the Taliban takeover are forbidden to openly worship or evangelize, and converts from Islam are often killed by members of their own families. In Pakistan, human rights experts continue to document the kidnapping and trafficking of teenage girls — many of them Christian — who are forced to marry and convert to Islam. 

And yet the Western Church is largely unaware of the plight of our brothers and sisters around the world who are regularly suffering. For many American Christians, it’s easy to think of persecution as something that happens “over there,” thousands of miles away, across oceans, on different continents. But in both Romans and 1 Corinthians, the Bible makes clear we are all one body in Christ, no matter where we live. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.

In this moment, we cannot avoid this question: What kind of organization is needed to most effectively support persecuted Christians?

By creating the world’s most extensive covert network serving Christians who suffer for their faith, Global Christian Relief, the organization I lead, hopes to more effectively support persecuted believers in this moment. We are broadening our vision to include a greater focus on technology, a streamlined mechanism for mobilizing the American church to advocate and expanded partnerships with people on the frontlines who are living and working in some of the most difficult countries to follow Jesus.

There are a handful of groups devoted to this cause, and each is doing vital and necessary work that benefits countless believers around the globe. But the need is so great that there could be a thousand organizations.

I pray American congregations will be quickly awakened to this global reality and roused into action. The need for people of faith with expertise in technology, social media, banking, tax law and so many other sectors will be crucial to helping our brothers and sisters weather these worsening attacks.

David Curry. Courtesy photo

David Curry. Courtesy photo

Because now is not the time to be asleep.

(David Curry is president and CEO of Global Christian Relief (GCR), America’s leading watchdog organization focused on the plight of persecuted Christians worldwide. In addition to equipping the Western Church to advocate and pray for the persecuted, GCR works in the most restrictive countries to protect and encourage Christians threatened by faith-based discrimination and violence. The views expressed in this sponsored commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.) 

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