Nigeria and China remain major concerns in 2020 for Release International, according to its latest report.
The Christian advocacy organisation cited rising Islamist terrorism in Nigeria and neighbouring countries as a significant cause for ‘alarm’, with Christians increasingly in danger because of their professed faith.
In its annual accounts, Release reported, ‘The persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ has continued to grow at an alarming rate in Nigeria, where Release has been supporting the families of Christians who have lost loved ones.
‘Many thousands of Christians have been killed and more than one million remain internally displaced because of attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants.’
David Armond, chairman of Release International, wrote, ‘The needs are huge and our partners are often overwhelmed.’
Regarding China, the accounts highlighted that in China the coronavirus has been used as a cover to intensify persecution.
For example, in February 2020, the Chinese Communist Party introduced new and stricter of regulations on churches, while Release partner China Aid revealed a video showing that officials in Jiangsu province used lockdown as an opportunity to demolish Xiangbaishu Church in Yixing city.
‘Given the ongoing coronavirus, the need to be a clear and courageous “voice for the voiceless” remains as great as at any time in Release International’s 51-year history,’ the report said.
Elsewhere, Release expressed thankfulness that a strong 2019 had enabled it to ‘help the growing numbers of persecuted Christians’ in 25 countries, especially as Covid-19 struck.
The accounts revealed that, in its 51st year, the organisation’s funding rose in 2019 by 24 percent, amounting to £2,690,666 for Release’s partners around the world.
Mr Armond commented, ‘The Covid-19 outbreak is a major risk. The ministry is largely sheltered from the expected effects due to its loyal donor base and a significant legacy.
‘We believe our committed and faithful supporters will not abandon our persecuted brothers and sisters in their hour of need and will continue supporting the ministry, despite new hardships at home.’
Release International was founded in 1968 as the Christian Mission to the Communist World, inspired by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned and tortured by Romanian secret police under communism.
Following the demise of communism in Eastern Europe and the spread of persecution elsewhere, the ministry broadened its activities and changed its name to Release International.
Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release, commented, ‘We thank God for what is now 51 years of provision through faithful supporters. We do not slow down in seeking to be obedient to our calling to love and serve persecuted Christians.’