A new report from advocacy group Open Doors says that more Christians are being persecuted than in the last 30 years.

The World Watch List, released on January 18, says the number of Christians facing persecution worldwide is around 360 million.

The list of 50 countries with the most persecution is led by North Korea in 2022, which was previously held by Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country’s government. Afghanistan is now in ninth place on the list, as many of its Christians have been killed, fled, or are hiding.

Open Doors’ Italian director Cristian Nani said that the few Christians remaining in Afghanistan are living like the early Church, in secrecy for their safety. He explained there is “refugee” church due to the number of Christians fleeing persecution.

The other countries with “extreme” levels of Christian persecution were Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, and India.

In sub-Saharan Africa, anti-Christian violence has reached “unprecedented intensity,” the report said. Nigeria comprises nearly 90% of the total number of Christians killed worldwide with 5,014 Christians killed in 2022. ~90% of Christian kidnappings in 2022 also were in Nigeria, where Nani said there is a “business” of kidnapping.

Nani said Open Doors is working to find “radical solutions” to end persecution and help persecuted Christians find healing and forgiveness by breaking “the circle of violence.”

The World Watch List also underlines continuing Christian persecution in China, which is No. 16 on the list.

The report said China “is forging an international alliance to redefine human rights,” while more countries adopt “the Chinese model of centralized control of the freedom of religion.”

Relatedly, Pope Francis asked for prayers for persecuted Christians after his Wednesday general audience, saying he was praying for Father Isaac Achi, a Catholic priest who died after bandits set fire to his parish rectory in northern Nigeria on Sunday.

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