Open Doors USA and the World Watch List of persecuted Christians
Open Doors USA, a non-profit organization, serves persecuted Christians in more than sixty countries. In addition to distributing bibles, training evangelists, and rebuilding churches and homes, ODUSA releases an annual list of countries where Christians suffer the worst persecution. Examples of persecution Christians experience in these countries include “beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death.” After pinpointing potential victims using its Rapid Appraisal Tool (RAPT) methodology, Open Doors USA compiles its World Watch List using a carefully-designed “expert questionnaire”. Per Open Doors USA, here are the top ten countries that exhibit the most severe religious persecution of Christians.
1. North Korea
Not only is Christianity illegal in North Korea but is viewed as “deeply Western and despicable”. Christians in North Korea keep their religion secret, even hiding their faith from children until they are old enough to understand the consequences of divulging the family’s religious beliefs. North Korea has topped the list for more than a decade.
According to ODUSA, religious cleansing by Islamic terrorist groups has reduced Iraq’s Christian population to “the verge of extinction. However, with a recent influx of refugees, there are “sparks of hope” for churches to reach out.
ODUSA says Eritrea is “absolutely authoritarian and intolerant towards any form of association, dissent, and free expression.” Eritrea controls all religious institutions. Persecution of Christians has risen as support for radical forms of Islam have risen.
Amidst government corruption, violent civil unrest, and strict Taliban control, converts from Islam have been forced into hiding throughout Afghanistan.
With a raging civil war since 2011, Christians located in strategic areas of the country are doubly exposed to persecution from radical Islamists because of their support for Syria’s government.
Per ODUSA, though Pakistan’s military announced a war against Islamic radicals, it continues a policy of distinguishing between “good” and “bad” jihadists” leaving various forms of radical Islamists free to persecute Christians using Pakistan’s liberal “blasphemy” laws which classify any religion that does not worship Muhammad as blasphemous.
Somalia has a strong Islamic foundation and is intolerant of other religions. In addition, the country has become a “safe haven for Islamic radicalism”. As a result, “even a mere suspicion of Christianity leads to a rush public beheading”.
ODUSA points out that the “government of Sudan is strictly implementing a policy of one religion, one culture and one language.” Since Islam is deeply embedded in the country, the persecution of Christians in Sudan is “systematic and more reminiscent of a policy of ethnic cleansing.”
In Iran, Christianity is considered “a condemnable Western influence, an imminent threat to the Islamic identity of the Republic”. However, word from inside the country hints that many of the nation’s youth are leaving Islam for Christianity.
As radical Islamists shift into the vacuum left by civil war and violent revolution, persecution against Christians has grown at an alarming rate. The beheading of 21 Christians, revealed in a brutal radical Islamists online video in 2015, took place in Libya.
Open Doors USA requests prayers for persecuted Christians
Open Doors USA accepts donations but most importantly, they respectfully ask for your prayers. Please pray for Christians living in these deplorable conditions to “shine as lights” before their persecutors.