260 million Christians live In Fear Of State Persecution in 50 countries – 15 million more than in the previous year


January is a time of looking forward to the new year – but it’s also a time of ponderance and reflection. Taking stock of what went so well, and what did not pan out alright – and how to make things better next time around; by CRIMSON TAZVINZWA///

Every January, the latest World Watch List is published. It ranks the 50 countries where it is most difficult to follow Christ – where our brothers and sisters face persecution from the state, from their families and from outside attack. 260 million Christians live in these 50 dangerous countries – 15 million more than in the previous year.

As you read the 2020 World Watch List, please keep praying for families who are courageously following Jesus no matter the cost. Let’s make 2020 a year of change for our brothers and sisters.

Since 2002, North Korea has been the most dangerous place to be a Christian. It’s still at the top of the World Watch List in 2020.

The publication of the World Watch List is a great opportunity for you, your family and your church to pray for our family choosing to follow Jesus no matter the cost.

World Watch List

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The church is alive. The church is active. The church is growing. And that’s why the church is persecuted.

The persecution of Christians is getting more severe than ever, affecting increasing numbers of believers around the world. This overview of persecution trends will help give you a better understanding of the situation, and equip you to pray for your brothers and sisters following Jesus no matter the cost.

More Christians are being persecuted

A staggering 260 million Christians in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List face high or extreme levels of persecution for their faith: in the previous year, it was 245 million. And Open Doors estimates that there are another 50 million Christians facing high levels of persecution in a further 23 countries outside the top 50. This includes MexicoChad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Persecution is getting worse

Of the top 50, 45 countries have been designated ‘extreme’ or ‘very high’, in terms of the levels of persecution Christians face. That’s five more than last year.

More churches are being attacked

Attacks against churches have risen an astonishing 500 per cent – 9,488 compared to 1,847 the previous year. These attacks include church closures, and the significant increase is largely due to the actions of authorities in China (23).

But fewer Christians are being killed for their faith

In 2019, 2,983 Christians were killed for their faith. That figure is shocking and upsetting, but it is fewer than the number of believers reported killed in 2018 (4,305) or 2017 (3,066). This is largely due to fewer murders in Nigeria (12), which remains far and away the country where Christians are most likely to be killed for their faith.

Persecution is going digital

Persecution keeps apace of modern developments, and governments are increasingly using surveillance. The explosion in digital technologies has been used to target Christians – particularly in China (23) and India (10), where facial-recognition technology and artificial intelligence have been used to identify and discriminate against believers.

Radical Islam continues to spread

In Syria (11) and Iraq (15), some Christians are beginning to return home and rebuild their communities …following the defeat of Islamic State militants. But the continued presence of Islamic extremist groups and ongoing political instability continue to threaten the church – as was recently demonstrated by the Turkish military incursion into north east Syria. In sub-Saharan Africa, radical Islamic groups are also taking advantage of instability in countries like Mali (29)Niger (50)  and Burkina Faso (28).

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