Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, an annual day to put special emphasis on praying for the persecuted Church. In preparation for the observance, here are five facts you should know about Christian persecution around the globe:
1. Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith.
2. According to the U.S. Department of State, in more than 60 countries Christians face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors because of their faith in Christ.
3. One of the worst countries in the world for the persecution of Christians is North Korea. With the exception of four official state-controlled churches in Pyongyang, Christians in North Korea face the risk of detention in the prison camps, severe torture and, in some cases, execution for practicing their religious beliefs. North Koreans suspected of having contact with South Korean or other foreign missionaries in China, and those caught in possession of a Bible, have been known to be executed. The conditions in this country have remained the worst in the world for Christians for the past 12 years.
4. In 41 of the 50 worst nations for persecution, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic extremists
5. Christians face persecution even in countries with a large Christian population. For instance, in Columbia Christian political rebels specifically target leaders because many people have left the rebel groups after coming to Christ. The church is frequently attacked because these groups view Christians as a threat.