Every year Christians are being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Jesus and the numbers continue to grow. Open Doors has just released their World Watch List, but what is the World Watch List?
From Open Doors: “The World Watch List is an annual report on the global persecution of Christians, ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. ”
Just in the last year Christian Persecution has risen by 6% with 260 million Christians being persecuted for their faith around the world. In fact, 2,983 have died for their faith in Christ and 3,711 Christians were detained without a trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned. In addition 9,488 churches and Christian buildings have also been attacked.
At the top of this list is almost always North Korea with Christianity in North Korea nearly outlawed. Christians are considered to be enemies of the state, as the dictator Kim Jong Un and his family are revered and worshiped as gods themselves. Unfortunately for Christians in North Korea they must keep their faith a secret or otherwise they can be arrested and sent to labor camps or even killed. Even to have a Bible is outlawed in the atheist nation.
In recent years I had assumed that China would be the number two nation to make the list due to their police state, but they are growing in the list to number 23. In China, they are currently closing churches, jailing pastors and even rewriting scripture. To be a Christian in China you are considered to be a part of a cult, in fact the government demands complete and total submission to the Chinese Communist Party. For the Christian in China you are not allowed to hold Bible studies or even own a Bible for that matter and worship services are outlawed and there are certainly no youth groups or religious body of any kind is allowed. You are watched at every corner with their spying eyes and cameras and citizens are even given permission to report a “Christian” if they see one and then offered a reward. Crosses are burned and destroyed at churches with the Chinese flag and photos of Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. To be a Christian in China is against the law, but it’s not only Christians that are persecuted, it is any religion including Islam, Buddhists, etc. In fact to be seen practicing any other religion than worshiping the government many are sent to re-education camps and forced manual labor under unbearable conditions and then the key is thrown away. Although Christianity in China is illegal it does not stop the underground churches from worshiping their God and growing, in fact some Christians in China have memorized the Bible, as it is the one thing that the government cannot take away in a believer’s heart.
Even so persecution in China is almost unbearable with China persecuting 5,576 Churches in 2019, there was another nation that made number two on the watch list and that is Afghanistan.
From Open Doors: Afghanistan is a tribal society, and loyalty to one’s family, clan and tribe are extremely important. In an Islamic society, it is illegal for an Afghan person to leave Islam.
The majority of Islamic nations have outlawed Christianity altogether and there are many reports in recent years of beheadings and torture for Christians, but again even upon death, Christians have not forsaken their God. Take for instance this report from the Christian Post:
“A pastor who made headlines earlier this month for praising God in a ransom video has been executed by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. Andimi was declared missing on Jan. 3 following a raid by the Islamic extremist group in Michika. Video posted online appears to show Andimi being forced into a vehicle by his captors. Despite the situation, Andimi said in the video that he was not discouraged because “all conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God. By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife and my children and all my colleagues,” he said. “If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God.” On Monday, local sources disclosed to ministry partners in the United States that Andimi was murdered by beheading.”
And there are many more reports of such tragedies, but unfortunately they are difficult to prevent. Nigeria was listed as number 12 on the watch list. Although Nigeria is not entirely an Islamic nation, there are many Christians there as well.
The following are the top 50 nations from Open Doors that Christians are faced with persecution daily:
We hear a lot about the Asian and Islamic nations where Christian persecution is accelerating, but what about here in the United States? Certainly Christians are not suffering as they are in these other nations around the world, but there is a degree of persecution even in the land of the free and brave. In fact in recent years a shift has taken place in society where Christians are considered bigoted and are hated. Time Magazine reports the following:
Some of the faithful have paid unexpected prices for their beliefs lately: the teacher in New Jersey suspended for giving a student a Bible; the football coach in Washington placed on leave for saying a prayer on the field at the end of a game; the fire chief in Atlanta fired for self-publishing a book defending Christian moral teaching; the Marine court-martialed for pasting a Bible verse above her desk; and other examples of the new intolerance. Anti-Christian activists hurl smears like “bigot” and “hater” at Americans who hold traditional beliefs about marriage and accuse anti-abortion Christians of waging a supposed “war on women.
Even in America there is a war on Christianity, although we have a President and Vice President that have worked hard to change that course, it can only be band-aid for a brief time as even they cannot stop the constant persecution Christian’s face in America on many different levels. Christian Persecution will continue to grow the further we venture into these last days as Bible Prophecy will be fulfilled.
I want to encourage Christians from around the world to be strong and vigilant, to continue to hold their shield of faith and never lose hope. We are praying for you.