Each year, we release the World Watch List which details the 50 most dangerous places to be a Christian. It shows where believers face the worst persecution and discrimination – all because they follow Jesus.
But what is persecution? Where does it happen? And what can you do about it?
Persecution is any type of hostility that believers experience because they follow Jesus. It comes in two main forms: violence and pressure.
For some, persecution means a denial of basic needs like clean water, food, and shelter because of their faith. For others, it means facing rejection from those they love the most. For others, persecution forces them on the run as secret police track them down.
And for others, persecution means being kidnapped or even killed by extremists – all for choosing to follow Jesus.
“I was tortured because I was looking for Jesus,” said one believer from the Gulf region. “The beating was painful, but it made my determination stronger. I made a choice: I was going to find Jesus no matter what happened.”
Image: Christians at a church meeting in South East Asia
According to the 2021 World Watch List, more than 340 million Christians are facing high to extreme levels of persecution and discrimination right now. That’s 1 in 8 Christians worldwide – a pretty shocking stat.
From labour camps in North Korea and prisons in Iran to local communities in Nigeria and households in India. These are just some of the places where Christians can experience persecution.
But they’re also the places where we can see God at work. Often, all it would take to stop persecution would be to stop sharing the gospel. Yet even in the face of persecution, believers are living for Christ and building His Church, no matter the cost.
You can explore the 50 most dangerous places to be a Christian with the newest World Watch List here…
Image: A North Korean village
Over the last two years, because of the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve seen the daily rhythms of our lives turned upside-down and the face of persecution change like never before. Extremism surged, authorities shut down churches, believers were turned away from emergency relief and violence continued to rise.
We can’t anticipate exactly how persecution might look as we move forward. But what we are certain of is that Jesus will remain the same and He will continue strengthening the Church in every season.
Every Christians has a part to play in the body of Christ. And there’s nothing more powerful than a Church united in prayer.
Image: Christians praying in Sri Lanka
Start by praying these points:
Pray that whatever their circumstances, God will give persecuted Christians the right words.
Pray that Christians facing hardship will draw from God's love and power.
Pray their witness would inspire and change those who seek to harm them.
Pray that persecuted Christians will find peace in God’s grace, even in their weaknesses.
Pray God would be present with persecuted Christians in their hardship, protecting and encouraging them.
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