Persecution of followers of Jesus Overview

I believe persecution is an ever growing issue for followers of Jesus. Today, just like in the book of Acts, Christians are persecuted all over the world for following Jesus.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

~Jesus — Matthew 5:11-12

Here are some recent items of interest:

  • North Korean Defector Tells How She Denied Jesus Three Times ‘Just Like Peter’ Amid Torture of Kim Jong Un Regime, Pleads With U.S. Not to be Silent About Persecution of Christians at U.S. State Department’s First-Ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom – “North Korean defector Ji Hyeona couldn’t help but shed a few tears while sharing her account of abuse and torture at the U.S. State Department’s first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Christian woman, who now lives in South Korea after escaping from North Korea for the last time in 2007, pled with those gathered from around the world at the Harry S. Truman Building Tuesday to not be silent about the human rights abuses committed by the Kim Jong Un regime.” Read more
  • Thousands Protest Persecution of Christians in India“As The Fellowship continues our push to end Christian Persecution, we’d like to share a story of Christians who are protesting the harassment and hatred they face. UCANews provides this story of 10,000 Christians in India who formed a 20-kilometer chain to protest persecution because of their faith Read more
  • Hopes dashed for release of pastor Andrew Brunson as Turkish trial to continue in October“Hopes were dashed for the imminent release of an American pastor jailed in Turkey on terrorism charges as a Turkish court today ordered him to remain behind bars. The court scheduled Andrew Brunson’s next hearing for 12 October. Some observers had believed that Turkey might release Brunson, who has been detained for almost two years, since Oct 2016. The pastor of a small church in Izmir, he is accused of having links with supporters of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed for the failed 2016 coup against President Erdogan, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Brunson denies all the charges.” Read more … Published on August 10, 2018
  • Historic Peace Agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea“Christians from both countries have been “praying for this for a long time”. Many hope “all officials will now work together to breach the gap between the two nations” After twenty years of territorial and border tensions, Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a joint declaration of peace and friendship, marking the beginning of bilateral relations between the two countries. According to a tweet by the Eritrean Minister for Information, Yemane Meskel, relations will be effective on different levels and are aimed at seeking political, economic, social and cultural cooperation.” Read more … Published on July 31, 2018
  • How Malaysia and North Korea Inspire Us to Pray Impossible Prayers  – “I recently returned from Malaysia (No. 23 on the World Watch List) where secret believers at a secret church told us how their government had been persecuting Christians for decades. They said Malaysia had recently gone through an election in May to vote for a new prime minister. Malaysian Christians had been praying for a change that would give them the freedom to follow Jesus in their country.” Read more … Published on July 18, 2018

PERSECUTION AT A GLANCE

Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with the Messiah. Disciples throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of home and assets, torture, beheadings, rape and even death as a result of their faith.

Trends show that countries in AfricaAsia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender.

Every day there are new reports of disciples who face threats, unjust imprisonment, harassment, beatings and even loss of family because of their faith in Jesus.

Every month:

  • 255 Christians are killed
  • 104 are abducted
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage
  • 66 churches are attacked
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned

Every year, Open Doors releases the World Watch List—a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization. This is the 26thyear of the Open Doors World Watch List, and it remains the only annual in-depth survey to rank the 50 most difficult countries in which to be a follower of Jesus.

According to their research:

  • 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in the countries on the World Watch List. This represents 1 in 12 Christians worldwide.
  • North Korea is ranked #1 for the 17th consecutive year as the most dangerous country for Christians.
  • During the World Watch List 2018 reporting period: 3,066 Christians were killed; 1,252 were abducted; 1,020 were raped or sexually harassed; and 793 churches were attacked.
  • Islamic Oppression fuels persecution in 8 of the top 10 countries.

MAJOR TRENDS IN PERSECUTION 

The Spread of Radical Islam

Islamic oppression is one of the most widely recognized sources of persecution for Christians in the world today—and it continues to spread—aiming to bring many parts of the world under Sharia law. The movement, which often results in Islamic militancy and persecution of Christians, is expanding in Asia (Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia) and Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia).

The Rise of Religious Nationalism

In an e ort to preserve power, insecure governments are using the country’s majority religion to marginalize Christians and other religious minorities. This phenomenon has been observed in some parts of Asia with Hindu nationalism (India, Nepal) and Buddhist nationalism (Myanmar, Sri Lanka) both gaining ground.

Intense Persecution in Central Asia

Persecution in Central Asia is on the rise in countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan—and Azerbaijan is new to the list at #45. There is a grassroots revival of Islam in Central Asia, and that means more pressure from the nationalist pro-Islamic governments and within society—causing increased persecution levels on two fronts.

PERSECUTION BY REGION

Middle East

Dramatically increasing persecution against Christians in all areas of their lives, Afghanistan models an alarming trend that reverberates through the top ten on the list: no central government, extremist Muslim factions trying to control the country and an intense conservative Islamic population.

Afghanistan and North Korea nearly tied. Never before have the top two countries been so close in incidents. Both countries are extreme in intolerance and outright persecution of Christians in every area Open Doors monitors. Afghanistan now meets the same level of persecution as North Korea in five out of the six areas. This is a tragedy considering the efforts being made by the international community to help rebuild Afghanistan and yet failing to ensure freedom of religion. Reports of violence and human rights atrocities from North Korea are pervasive, while the situation faced by Christians in Afghanistan may be underestimated. It is hard for westerners to imagine a second country could nearly meet the levels of persecution seen in North Korea, but Afghanistan has reached that level this year.

In addition to Pakistan being the most violent toward Christians, the country also scored the highest in churches or church buildings being attacked, abductions and forced marriages.

Asia

Led by North Korea, Christians living in many Asian countries continue to face intensifying persecution. Twenty-two of the 50 countries on the list are in Asia. India experienced a dramatic rise in persecution, moving from No. 15 in 2017 to No. 11 this year. Radical Hinduism and Indian nationalism are driving factors in the increasing levels of unrest and instability Christians face. In 2014, India scored only 55 points, while in 2017, Open Doors World Watch List researchers assigned 81 points to the nation—one of the fastest and most intense increases seen. Nepal appears on the list for the first time and lands stunningly at No. 25 due to India’s religious nationalism spilling into the country.

Africa

Ethnic cleansing based on religious affiliation is becoming common in a number of sub-Saharan African countries like Somalia (No. 3), Sudan (No. 4), Nigeria (No. 14) and Kenya (No. 32). Terrorism connected with extreme Islam continues to plague many African nations, resulting in increased persecution of Christians.

The Americas  

Mexico (39) and Columbia (49) remain the only two nations outside the region of the Middle East, Asia and Africa to make the list. Both experienced increases in persecution, primarily attributed to organized crime, corruption and governmental instability.

TOP TEN COUNTRIES WHERE IT’S MOST DANGEROUS TO FOLLOW JESUS

According to research calculations, the top ten nations where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith in 2017 were:

  1. North Korea (94 points)
  2. Afghanistan (93 points)
  3. Somalia (91 points)
  4. Sudan (87 points)
  5. Pakistan (86 points)
  6. Eritrea (86 points)
  7. Libya (86 points)
  8. Iraq (86 points)
  9. Yemen (85 points)
  10. Iran (85 points)

Syria dropped out of the top ten list down to No. 15, while Libya jumped back on the top ten list at No. 7 (since being No. 10 in 2016).