Persecution of the Global Church

More than 365 million (one in seven) Christians face high levels of persecution for their faith – and persecution is becoming dangerously violent in countries on the World Watch List.




Thirteen Christians a day were killed for their faith in 2023, on average. Nigeria remains the deadliest place to follow Jesus; 82% of killings happened here. Violence only eased during Nigeria’s elections, which accounted for a drop in the number of Christians killed globally compared to 2023.



The number of attacks on churches and Christian-run schools, hospitals and cemeteries has exploded in 2023, up six-fold compared to the previous year. It’s been driven by mob violence in India, church closures in China, and attacks in Nigeria, Nicaragua and Ethiopia.



When countries are destabilized by war or extremism, Christians are at risk. In 2023, the number of believers forced to flee their homes more than doubled. Across the most dangerous countries for believers in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 3% of all Christians are displaced.


10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 10:22-23

There are so many in our family, our brothers and sisters, who right now are experiencing this. They’re being hated by everyone around them because of their love for Jesus. What’s more, they’re being persecuted and imprisoned and isolated and punished in different ways. They’re following Jesus, they’re proclaiming Jesus, and it’s costing them greatly.

The Bible’s clear. When one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. So we need to identify with, pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing persecution, and at the same time to not be surprised in our own lives, wherever we might live.

Even if we live in a place where there is relative freedom to proclaim the gospel, to not shirk back in any way in fear from following Jesus and proclaiming Jesus, that we would not be afraid what others might think of us, or the risk that following Jesus and proclaiming Jesus might be to our reputation, to our comfort, maybe in some senses to our jobs, that whatever it may cost us, that we would faithfully follow Jesus, that we would follow in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters in places like North Korea, Somalia, and Yemen, and parts of India or Afghanistan, Pakistan.

God, we pray right now for our brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, our family in these countries. In places in the world where they are being persecuted for their faith in you. God, we pray for your strength for them. We pray for your help for them. Lord, we pray that you would uphold them with your righteous right hand. We pray that you would give them boldness to follow you and to proclaim you even at great costs.

God, we pray for those who are in prison. We pray that they would know your presence with them. They would know that we are interceding for them, that they would know that they are not alone. God, we pray that the gospel would spread through them even in prison, that what we see in the Book of Acts would be true today. Consider the threats against them and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. We pray for the salvation of jailers like we see in Acts 16.

God, we pray for the salvation of persecutors like we see in Saul’s life. God, would you take those who are persecuting Christians right now and transform their hearts to see Jesus, that those who are persecuting Christians would become proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ.

Praying for Boldness

God, we pray for them. We pray for all these things, and, God, we pray for our own lives. Help us to proclaim the gospel. Help us to be unashamed of the gospel, especially for those of us who live in places where we have such freedom, and yet we are often so silent with the gospel, how we’re not spreading the gospel, even though we have so many opportunities to do so.

God help us to be faithful, to follow you fully, to proclaim you boldly wherever we live. Whether we’re persecuted or not, in anticipation of the day when persecution will be no more, when we will be welcomed around your throne. We think about the martyrs around your throne right now, according to the Revelation, who are crying out for justice, and you are saying wait because there’s more of their number to come.

God, as we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and as we pray in our own lives, we say if we’re to be among that number, then we say, yes, Lord, we want to follow you. We want to proclaim you no matter what it costs us in this world. So help us all to do so faithfully all the way to the end. Help us to endure faithfully following you as disciples and making disciples of all the nations no matter what it costs all the way to the end. We pray in Jesus’ name, according to your word in Matthew 10:22–23. Amen.

Source: Pray the Word with David Platt, January 10, 2023, Available at

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is a missionary organization that serves persecuted Christians in the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to be a Christian. Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand founded VOM after being imprisoned for their Christian witness in Communist Romania. For more than 50 years, VOM has been dedicated to inspiring all believers to a biblical faith by encouraging their commitment to Christ and the fulfillment of his Great Commission no matter the cost.

Learn More

Open Doors works in more than 70 countries, supplying Bibles, training church leaders, providing practical support and emergency relief, and supporting Christians who suffer persecution and discrimination for their faith. Our national bases in 25 countries work to raise awareness of global persecution, mobilizing prayer, support, and action among Christians.

Learn More

Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. Accurate, updated people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission. Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10 show that there will be some from every tribe, tongue, nation and people before the Throne.

Joshua Project seeks to answer the questions that result from the Great Commission’s call to make disciples among every nation or people group. Who are the people groups of the world? Which ones still need initial church-planting in their midst? How can we pray for them? What ministry resources are available to reach the least-reached?

Learn More

Stratus seeks to equip the global church with fresh vision to accomplish the Great Commission by addressing some of the factors that perpetuate the Great Imbalance.

We hope this tool allows the church to better understand what steps will be required to overcome the barriers that prevent needs from being met, spurring informed and collaborative missions strategy.

Learn More