As many as 215 million followers of Christ around the world are being persecuted because of their faith, according to Open Doors USA’s annual World Watch List, which was released Wednesday. The report identified the top 50 nations where Christians are most targeted.
“It’s easy to move through life disconnected from what happens to believers in other parts of the world. But this report helps us close the gap between us,” said David Curry, CEO of Open Doors, in the full report.
“After all, the World Watch List isn’t about the numbers, but the people these numbers represent. I hope you see their stories of victory and resilience, and—more than anything—I hope you see the powerful Kingdom work God is accomplishing in some of the most difficult countries in the world.”
In total, Open Doors found that 3,066 Christians were killed last year. Also, 1,252 Christians were abducted, 1,1020 were raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches were attacked.
North Korea was ranked as the worst country for Christians for the 16th consecutive year, though Islamic oppression was the main source of persecution for eight of the top 10 on the World Watch List.
Life in North Korea remains extremely repressed by the Kim Jong Un government, with Christians arrested for something as simple as owning a Bible.
Afghanistan rose to second place in the 2018 list, with believers there unable to express their faith even in private.
“Converts can experience loss of personal property and businesses, beatings, and even death at the hands of their own family members and communities,” Open Doors stated.
Third on the list was Somalia, where Islam is the state religion and public expression of Christianity is illegal. All citizens are expected to be Muslims.
Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran rounded out the top 10.
India, which came in at 11th place, scored 81 points on the persecution scale, which the group said was “one of the fastest and most intense increases we’ve seen.”
Nepal not only appeared on the list for the first time, but landed at No. 25, in part because of India’s “religious nationalism spilling into the country.”
Mexico, at 39th place, and Colombia, at 49th, were again the only two countries outside the Middle East, Asia and Africa to make the top 50 list. Believers in both nations suffered mostly due to organized crime, corruption and governmental instability.
Overall, 30 countries saw an increase in persecution in the measuring period between November 2016 and October 2017.
One of the persecution topics that received particular attention was the sexual harassment of Christian women.
Open Doors said that every day, “six women are raped, sexually harassed or are forced into marriage to a Muslim under threat of death due to their Christian faith.”
“Research for the World Watch List documented 2,260 such incidences against women — and this number only covers those who had the courage to report such an incident, representing only a fraction of those actually raped and harassed in this way,” the group explained.
Curry said earlier this week that there has been some good news for Christians, such as U.S. promises to improve aid distribution.
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Source: Christian Post