Have you ever wondered how often do our brothers and sisters in the different parts of the world suffer from persecution and religious violence? How they are constantly placed in a tight spot just because they believe in Christ? Approximately more than two hundred million Christians are facing high levels of persecution worldwide according to the latest report of Open Doors USA. The following are the facts that you should be aware of to get a mental picture of what our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ experience today:
1. Top 10 Countries where it’s Hardest to Follow Christ
1. North Korea
2. Top 10 Countries where Christians Face the Most Violence
4. Central African Republic
5. Burkina Faso
10. Sri Lanka
3. Top 10 Countries where the most Christians are Martyred
1. Nigeria: 1,350
2. Central African Republic: 924
3. Sri Lanka: 200
4. Democratic Republic of Congo: 152
5. South Sudan: 100
6. Burkina Faso: 50
7. Egypt: 23
8. Pakistan: 20
9. [name withheld]: 20
10. Colombia: 16
4. Top 10 Countries where the most Churches are Attacked or Closed
1. China: 5,576
2. Angola: 2,000
3. Rwanda: 700
4. Myanmar: 204
5. Nigeria: 150
6. Ethiopia: 124
7. Burundi: 100
8. Mali: 100
9. Pakistan: 58
10. Burkina Faso: 50
5. Data with respect to Christian persecution in the top 50 countries where it’s hardest to follow Christ.
- 260 Million: In the top 50 World Watch List countries alone, 260 million Christians in the world experience high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ.
- 1 in 9: Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution.
- 6%: The rise in the number of Christians in the top 50 countries on the 2020 World Watch List (WWL) who experience high levels of persecution. (from the 2019 reporting period to 2020’s)
- 2,983: Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the top 50 WWL countries.
- 3,711: Christians detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned in the top 50 WWL countries.
- 9,488: churches or Christian buildings attacked in the top 50 WWL countries.
- 6 out of 7: In seven of the countries in the World Watch List’s top 10, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression.
- 11: countries scoring in the “extreme” level for their persecution of Christians. Six years ago, North Korea was the only one.
- 19: Consecutive years North Korea has ranked No. 1 as the world’s most dangerous place for Christians.
6. Main reasons why Christians are targeted for following Jesus
- The Authoritarian governments view Christianity as a threat to power.
- Suspicion of anything outside the majority cultural faith.
- Extremist groups want to destroy Christians out of hatred.
- Official and cultural domination of a single religion.
7. Persecution against women
In the 2020 World Watch List reporting period, there were shocking details about the persecution experienced by Christian women. In many places, they experience “double persecution”—one for being a Christian and one for being a woman. Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community. This kind of persecution is difficult to assess because it is complex, violent and hidden—in many cultures where women are specifically targeted, it is difficult if not impossible to report accurate numbers.
8. In the most populated countries, Christians live in a surveillance state.
In his letter opening the 2020 World Watch List, Open Doors CEO David Curry spoke about visiting Beijing, China and being watched by cameras and possibly having his hotel room bugged.
“It’s what some Christians in China go through constantly,” he wrote, “the reality that the government keeps tabs on them, making sure they don’t get out of line. Making sure that Jesus doesn’t ever conflict with the wishes of the state.”
The report notes both China and India are increasingly using facial recognition systems with wide networks of cameras to track Christians and make their lives more difficult.
9. Islamic oppression continues to impact millions of Christians
In seven out of the top 10 World Watch List countries, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression. This means, for millions of Christians—particularly those who grew up Muslim or were born into Muslim families—openly follow-ing Jesus can have painful consequences. They can be treated as second-class citizens, discriminated against for jobs or even violently attacked.
10. More laws added to control religion
State authoritarianism is increasing in many parts of the world, supported by the ever-spreading availability of personal digital technology, which governments can increasingly track through facial recognition, electronic chips and so on. Places like Vietnam, Myanmar, China and North Korea all saw increases in stricter state control of religious rights.
Behind every number recorded, a human life suffered or worse shed his blood for his faith in Christ. Remember those people; let us fight and pray for them.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” – 1 Peter 3:14