Global persecution of Christians increasing at alarming rates

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Every single day, an increasing number of Christians die for their faith while countless more suffer growing persecution worldwide.  

A report commissioned by the British government released in May concluded that global Christian persecution is now so severe it is close to reaching the international definition of genocide. Islamic oppression, increasing religious nationalism and communism have proven to be the three major drivers behind the current unprecedented levels of worldwide persecution.

Clearly, radical extremists believing the complete opposite of what Jesus taught, are being ever more deceived into thinking that the One Who in fact loves them most, and those believing in eternal salvation through Him alone, are their greatest enemies.

The mission organization Open Doors, in their annual  World Watch List, rank the top 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. According to their last report, one out of ten Christians live where Christianity is either illegal or forbidden.

Photo Credit: Stephen Perry

Photo Credit: Stephen Perry

“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 percent more Christians are experiencing higher levels of persecution than last year,” says Open Doors official Henrietta Blyth. “That’s 30 million more people.”

Bibles for Mideast works in many of the top-listed countries, engaging in largely clandestine evangelical activities and establishing underground Assembly of Loving God (ALG) house churches.  Pastors and believers face constant persecution and often death threats, but the Lord Jesus miraculously protects them even while saving countless souls. Almost all the posts on our website attest to that.

North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain in the top five worst places, while the rise in attacks by Hindu extremists in India and tough new laws in China have seen believers in the world’s two most populous countries face ‘extreme’ and ‘very high’ levels of persecution respectively.

“This year, we noticed how Christian women are especially targeted around the world,” reports David Curry, CEO of Open Doors. “Often, they are culturally discriminated against because they are women—and when it’s discovered they follow Jesus, the suffering can be even worse.”

North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, India and Syria currently top the list of worst offenders—North Korea retaining its first place position for the past 16 years.

Although the communist North Korean government claims to provide freedom of religion in its constitution, no one can be openly Christian in the atheist state without facing arrest, re-education in a labor camp, or, in some cases, execution. Even so, underground churches have grown tremendously in the last two decades and close to 300,000 Christians live as covert believers under the oppressive regime.

For eight of the top eleven countries on the World Watch List, Islamic extremism proves to be the primary cause of Christian persecution.  Citizens in the 99-percent Muslim country of Afghanistan, second on the list, are banned from becoming Christian. Taliban radicalism continues to grow and new Christian believers have at times been killed by their own family members.

Many Christians have been martyred by Islamic militants in Somalia, third on the list of offenders. With about 99 percent of Somalis being Muslim, the tiny Christian community faces constant threats. In many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda’s Somali-based branch, are de facto rulers. They regard Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets, and when discovered, often kill them on the spot.

In Pakistan, the sixth largest country in the world and fifth on the persecution list, Christians are considered second-class citizens. Islamists there specifically vilify Christians. In 2016, a suicide bomber targeted members of Lahore's minority Christian community while they gathered at a funfair to celebrate Easter Sunday. Dozens of children were among the dead.

Lahore, Pakistan: Dozens of children among the dead in attack on Christians Easter Sunday 2016

Lahore, Pakistan: Dozens of children among the dead in attack on Christians Easter Sunday 2016

Persecution by means of a notorious blasphemy law, too often falsely leveled, can carry a death sentence. The most well-known example of this has been case of Asia Bibi. After sitting on death row for more than ten years, the Christian wife and mother has been finally acquitted of blasphemy charges yet her life remains in grave danger from radical Islamists. 

Coptic priests among the ruins of their church in Tanta, Egypt

Coptic priests among the ruins of their church in Tanta, Egypt

In fact, 71 of the world's 195 countries have blasphemy laws, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and death.

The 29 countries listed with very high Christian persecution are Nigeria, Iraq, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Mali, Mauritania, Turkey, China, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Brunei, Tunisia, Qatar, Mexico and Kenya. 

In China, the most populated country in the world, some church leaders are even saying persecution is the worst it’s been since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Chinese authorities have implemented laws prohibiting teachers and students from discussing religion or promoting their faith. Hundreds of churches have been demolished and Bibles are now banned across the country. In October of last year, Chinese police arrested more than 20 Christians for praying in the park.

Beijing has also banned public displays of the cross, and has torn down Jesus posters across the country and replaced them with photos of China's President Xi Jinping.

Christians meeting in a public park in China earlier this year after their services were shut down and their leaders taken away.   look closely :  many have packed bags next to them as they worship. They brought their clothes and personal items to the open-air meeting in case they were arrested and taken to prison.

Christians meeting in a public park in China earlier this year after their services were shut down and their leaders taken away. look closely: many have packed bags next to them as they worship. They brought their clothes and personal items to the open-air meeting in case they were arrested and taken to prison.

High persecution countries include the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Bangladesh, the Palestinian Territories and Azerbaijan.

Hindu nationalism continues to grow in India and Nepal, as does Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Persecution of Christians in central Asian nations, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, has intensified under nationalist, pro-Islamic governments.

Please keep our persecuted Christian ‘family members’, fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus who live in increasing danger around the world, in your prayers. Please also be praying for those who, in spite of the increasing perils, refuse to stop sharing the Gospel of Love and Salvation.

We especially appreciate your prayers for the underground ministry of Bibles for Mideast, its leaders and believers. They suffer incredible hardships, yet continue to work and stand in faith boldly for the Kingdom of God.