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News / Thoughts

World Watch Launch: Incredible support from MPs

January 21, 2019

Last week we launched the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List in Parliament, where over 100 parliamentarians were represented. It was an amazing turn out, especially considering the debates around Brexit that had been happening!

In a message to Open Doors supporters, Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary said, “Thank you for the fantastic work you are doing to highlight the fact that nearly a quarter of a billion Christians around the world are facing persecution for their faith.” The Foreign Secretary has commissioned a review into the plight of persecuted Christians around the world and how much help they are receiving from the UK.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry also attended the launch, saying, “It’s a pleasure to be here at the launch of the World Watch List report 2019. I read it with some concern to find out that, for the fifth year running, persecution of Christians has increased once more.”

The decline of religious freedom

The event was opened by host, the Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers MP, who then introduced Henrietta. She spoke about the growing persecution of Christians everywhere, and how denying the right to freedom of religion or belief plays a ‘central and devastating role’ in global crises across the world.

On the review, Henrietta said, “We are delighted that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has initiated an independent review to look at UK support for persecuted Christians around the world.”

In his speech, the Foreign Secretary thanked Open Doors for ‘shining a light’ on the decline of religious freedom. “I want [Christians] suffering this terrible persecution to think there are people who understand what they’re going through and are sincerely trying to do everything they can about it.”

He also mentioned the impact that a certain book had on him…

“…One of the oldest books I’ve got – which I’ve had since about the age of ten – is called God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. I only realised literally as I was walking over today the connection between Brother Andrew and Open Doors – it’s a great privilege to be here and an extra thrill for me in that context. But that book is the extraordinary story of daring-do of Brother Andrew, a Dutchman who smuggled Bibles behind the Iron Curtain and the incredible courage and extraordinary adventures he had in doing that.

“…We do have the most fantastic links around the world, through our links with the Commonwealth, our alliance with the United States, our links with our European friends and neighbours… So I want us to think about what we can do to use those connections that we have as a country, and I’ve asked Bishop Philip Mounstephen, the Bishop of Truro, to do an independent report looking at what the FCO does.”

Thank you!
We want to say a HUGE thank you to all of the parliamentarians who attended – with special thanks to Theresa Villiers MP for hosting the event once again. And for your prayers, and for getting involved and inviting your MP to the launch, we want to say enormous thanks to you!

The room was very busy during the launch, and we may have missed a few parliamentarians who attended, but below is a list of all those we registered as being present – nearly 100! If your MP is on the list, you may wish to thank them for coming. However, if your MP is not on this list, please don’t assume this shows a lack of interest – it was a busy week in Parliament, and they may have a good reason why they couldn’t come. By simply raising the issue and voicing your concern, you have given them something to think about.

Keep praying…

  • For all of the politicians who attended the launch – particularly the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, the FCO Minister for
  • Asia and the Shadow Foreign Secretary – that the impact of the launch would spur them to action on behalf of persecuted Christians
  • That the review will lead to greater awareness of Christian persecution, and, most importantly, concrete change for our brothers and sisters.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.