“So many Christians in the world are suffering. Am I indifferent to that, or does it affect me like it’s a member of the family? Does it touch my heart, or doesn’t it really affect me, [to know that] so many brothers and sisters in the family are giving their lives for Jesus Christ?” – Pope Francis, September, 23, 2013.
Despite the fact that Christians make up roughly a third of the world’s population, there are still large pockets of the planet where they are targeted and hunted down simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Below are just six among hundreds of stories of persecution from the bloody, painful and tumultuous year of 2013 for Christians around the globe.
1. Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen Slaughter 1,200 Nigerian Christians
“Statistically, we are looking at approximately 60 percent of the world’s Christians that were killed for their faith last year was in Northern Nigeria,” Ann Buwalda, executive director of the Jubilee Campaign.
Recently named on the U.S. terrorist’s list, Boko Haram has waged war against Nigerian Christians living in the northern part of the country in hopes of driving them to the South, where the majority of Christians already reside. (The country’s Muslims live predominantly in the North.) To achieve its ends, the group, along with Fulani Herdsmen, have carried out bombings, mass shootings and kidnappings, leaving Christians fearful for their lives. The Nigerian government had attempted to grant the group amnesty in April, in hopes of them ceasing their fight, but the group rejected the offer. Still, in one hopeful sign, some church leaders suggested in November that the sophisticated guerilla operation now operates more as a “bandit gang.