Nations to Watch in 2023

What is on our BTJ watch and pray list for 2023? Please join us in prayer for these nations!

Iran: 2022 saw a popular uprising against Islamic totalitarianism. Protests are of course brutally suppressed, and the death penalty has already been handed out to several of the protesters who were arrested. Many more have faced torture and imprisonment. Protests have become smaller in recent weeks, but we don’t think this is the end of it. Something else is brewing under the surface.

As the regime keeps murdering their own people, hundreds of thousands turn to Christ, accepting the Lordship of a King who loves them and gave himself for them. The growth of the church will inevitably erode the foundations of the regime’s power, which is based on Islam. But even if the regime can hang on to power for another few years, will it stop the young church of Iran from developing into a missionary sending church like China? 

Afghanistan: In neighbouring Afghanistan there have been some remarkable signs of resistance against the Taliban regime recently. Similar to Iran, these were triggered by the suppression of women. Female university students were sent home and female NGO workers likewise. 

As in Iran, not only brave women have protested this injustice, but male students and professors have taken a costly stand for the rights of these women. These are signs that Islamic patriarchy, the bedrock of the Taliban, is losing popular support; not only with women, but with men, who realise a healthy society needs women to participate. Will the people of Afghanistan, like the people of Iran, start turning to Christ instead?  Let’s watch and pray. 

North Korea: Three years of Covid isolationism may be coming to an end soon, as China opens its borders and trade between the two nations is resuming. For three years, Chinese Christians in the border area and North Korean refugee Christians in surrounding nations have been anxiously waiting for this. They want to bring food. They want to bring Bibles. They want to send their people to share the gospel. They want to provide medical help. They want to restart their businesses.

Contact with believers inside North Korea has been scarce, but we have understood that the name of Jesus is gaining fame, yet many don’t know much about Him. Will 2023 be the year they hear who he really is? 

China: Great changes are afoot in China. Right now, it is trying to sit out the first huge nation wide Covid wave. So far, it is looking grim, with very short supplies of medication, hospital beds and even places in morgues. Once the wave reaches the smaller villages, this may cause even more suffering and death. How China will emerge from this will depend on how quickly the government can act to reduce chaos and secure access to medical care, but it seems the zero Covid ship has sailed and there will be fare more comings and goings between China and the outside world. This is great news for mission!

Many Chinese teams in the 10/40 window are in need of reinforcements, and their current members need to reconnect with family and churches back home. Let’s pray the opening of China in 2023 will lead to a fresh wave of missionaries making their homes in the 10/40 window!

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