The Church is coming together today in prayer for persecuted believers around the world.
Sunday marks the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), which has been observed annually since the mid-1990s as an occasion to stand in solidarity with Christians who suffer for their faith.
Speaking ahead of the IDOP, Bishop Philip Mounstephen, who led the government's review into persecution in 2019, said the situation has "undoubtedly" worsened for Christians.
"I think the situation now is significantly worse than it was five years ago," he told Trans World Radio.
He pointed to Manipur in India as an example of where the persecution of Christians has escalated. Scores of Christians have been killed in the northeastern state and hundreds of churches have been destroyed in the region.
The bishop said Christians there had "been on the end of some really appalling discrimination and violence".
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, invited people to remember persecuted Christians in their prayers.
"Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church," he said.
"May we hear the cries of those around the world who suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ. And stand in prayerful solidarity with them for a world where all are free to peacefully practice their religion or belief."
Christian human rights groups agree that persecution worldwide is worsening.
Open Doors estimates that at least 360 million Christians experienced "high levels of persecution and discrimination" last year - an increase of 20 million from 2021.
Some of the worst countries for Christians according to its World Watch List are North Korea, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Open Doors will be joining with the Evangelical Alliance, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide for an online event on Sunday evening to pray for the persecuted Church.
The event will highlight the testimonies of Christians suffering for their faith in Eritrea, Nigeria and Nicaragua, and those who have been imprisoned for their faith.
Speaking ahead of the event, Release International CEO Paul Robinson said: "In the New Testament the Apostles sought to strengthen and encourage persecuted Christians. And they prayed for them.
"On this International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, we have the opportunity to truly count those who suffer for Christ as brothers and sisters, to stand with them and lift our voices with theirs in prayer. Join us!"