World Watch List 2023: Overview

In 2023 at least 360 million Christians around the world experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. That’s an astonishing 1 in 7 of the global Christian population.

Key things to know…

  • Each day, at least 15 Christians are killed for their faith in Jesus. Last year, 95% of all recorded killings were in sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority in Nigeria.
  • Last year, 2,110 churches were attacked.
  • Around 140,000 Christians were displaced from their home or country for faith-related reasons.
  • In 2022, 4,542 believers were detained and imprisoned without trial.


  • Islamic extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa are using extreme violence as they seek to make Africa the first Islamic continent.
  • China is looking to redefine human rights to focus on stability and security, meaning those, like Christians, who are seen as a threat to the government, face increasing pressures, restrictions and advanced technological surveillance.
  • Whether it’s Iranian police raiding house churches, dozens of Syrian churches damaged in attacks by Turkish forces or Christian Iraqi children facing bullying from teachers and classmates at school, Christians in the Middle East are still clinging to hope.
  • The region that has seen the sharpest increase in persecution is Latin America, with four Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua all rising up the list in 2023.

Any good signs?

This might seem bleak, but we know that ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)

There have been moves towards greater tolerance of religious freedom in several Gulf states, including Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

This is within a moderate Islamic framework that seeks to counter extremism and make their countries more hospitable for Christians. In such places – as well as in Egypt, where there is an increased focus on ‘national unity’ – hate speech against believers from historical and expatriate communities is often not tolerated, although radical elements still exist within their societies.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Qatar has seen a reduction in opposition towards Christians. This is largely due to no churches being closed in 2022, which may be linked to the FIFA World Cup and the spotlight it put on the country’s human rights record. That said, a significant number of churches closed during the pandemic have not been allowed to reopen.

The early church stood firm and took huge risks to carry the gospel to the places where they were scattered. Their extraordinary legacy lives on to this day – not only in the way they began spreading the gospel to all nations, but in their example of courageous faith that our persecuted family are seeking to follow today, regardless of the risks involved.

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