Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – We recently sat down with Darius, who is involved with ICC’s international relief efforts and projects and asked him to assess trouble spots as we look ahead to 2023. Where are Christians in peril? Where can they find hope? And what is ICC doing to relieve the suffering of those who put their faith in Jesus?
What were some of the overarching contributors to global persecution in 2022?
In 2022, two significant events affected persecution: the Ukraine War and the sour global economy. Radically empowered dictators, regimes, and terrorist groups took advantage of the situation. With the world’s attention distracted by this new war and the financial crisis, villainous leaders saw an opportunity to accelerate their actions and pursue their agenda—to the detriment of Christians. The U.S. government doesn’t have a lot of leverage right now, displaying the limited impact a leading world power can have. As a result, the regimes and the groups do more of what they want to do without the world’s big reaction to them.
These situations will worsen for Christians without a doubt. To some, the U.S. influence has diminished, though it continues to pursue diplomatic efforts, freeze accounts, support embargoes, and more. North Korea is a good example, emboldened to expand its nuclear program. You can imagine what’s happening for Christians and others living there.
The same thing applies to radical groups. So, you see terrorists like Boko Haram, the Allied Democratic Forces, and Fulani militants in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo getting a free ride to spread terror.
Also, socioeconomic factors significantly contribute to Christian persecution. With increased poverty, desperate people take desperate measures. If the only way to get food is to attack a Christian village and take what they have, they just don’t care.
The way we struggle now—a deficiency of resources, currency, and inflation—creates more desperation. Minority groups and Christians in many areas are being taken advantage of.
How is this playing out in some of the trouble spots?
In China, we see more acceleration in the crackdown on house churches and religious leaders than ever before. Our comprehensive reports on China show this concerning rise. We have been tracking persecution incidents for several years and concluded that persecution in China was worse in 2022 than in any other year.
The political coup in Myanmar in 2021 led to a crackdown on all minorities, including Christians. As a result, we see a lot of attacks on churches and bombings of churches. The internally displaced often use churches as shelters.
Iran is another example of how a regime took advantage of the world being distracted by the war in Ukraine and the poor global economy. The government did the biggest crackdown on churches, Christians, and Muslim-background believers this year, with more arrests and torture of Christians.
More states enforce anti-conversion laws, which many Indian scholars agree are unconstitutional. More states try to stop any evangelism or outreach to Hindu communities by adopting anti-conversion laws.
About 100,000 Christians remain stuck in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) and don’t have access to the world. The government took more land and closed the only road that gave Christians access to Armenia, essentially putting them in a big, geographical prison. The Russian peacekeepers are not doing anything, which has made this so much worse for Christians.