Every day, 1 in 9 Christians in the world faces high levels of religious persecution for following Jesus—that’s more than 245 million believers. And today, more than any time in modern history, Christian persecution is intensifying, with little sign of relief. In more than 60 countries, Christians risk isolation, ridicule, and imprisonment, loss of their homes, torture, rape, and even death for their faith in Jesus.
Today Open Doors released the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List—a ranking of the top 50 countries where it’s most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian. As the spread of radical Islam, the rise of religious nationalism, and intense persecution in Central Asia continues, a few countries new to the list may come as a surprise. Open Doors also shared a new in-depth study that dives deep into gender-based persecution in 33 countries, which has continued to rise resulting in the double persecution of Christian women.
David Curry, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, has called the list a “spiritual EKG showing the strength and vulnerability of the global church—the body of Christ.” Further, Curry says:
The World Watch List matters because it is the most trusted measurement of religious persecution in the world today. This report helps us close the gap between us. It helps us understand how to pray, to support, to empathize, and to stand with persecuted Christians when they suffer—and rejoice with them when conditions improve.
While Christian persecution takes many forms, Open Doors defines it as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ.
Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of their homes and possessions (including custody of their children), torture, beheadings, rape, and even death as a result of their faith. Curry says, “In response, [to the List] we call the church to pray for, connect with, and support our brothers and sisters who are both living and dying for their faith.”
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries.
These are our brothers and sisters. We can’t afford to look away from their suffering. When you get down to it, it’s in the DNA of every believer to care for the hurting and have compassion for those who are persecuted—because we’re one family in Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let’s dig deep into the issue of Christian persecution and let’s find a way—no matter how big or small—to stand with the persecuted church.
To read about the countries on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, click here to see the list, read the research, and find important prayer points. You can also download the full report. To help you pray with these believers, Open Doors has a mobile prayer app that connects you with persecuted Christians around the world and alerts you to their urgent prayer requests. Learn more about it and sign up to get regular updates delivered to your phone.