2019 World Watch List

2019 World Watch List

‘Every part suffers’

By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ

245 million Christians live in the 50 countries (colored) where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus. (Map by Open Doors)

The great missionary Paul wrote, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We also are instructed to remember those who are mistreated or suffering adversity “as if you were suffering with them” (Hebrews 13:3).

For most who are reading this, it is a stretch of the imagination to understand how many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are enduring hardship. We do not conceive the persecution experienced in places like Pakistan, Turkey, China, Indonesia, Nepal, and Morocco – never mind North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya.

Open Doors, a ministry that serves the persecuted church, announced its annual World Watch List on Jan. 16. These are the 50 countries most hostile to Christianity:

Extreme persecution

1. North Korea (#1 last year; source of persecution: communist and post-communist oppression)
2. Afghanistan (#2; Islamic oppression)
3. Somalia (#3; Islamic oppression)
4. Libya (#7; Islamic oppression)
5. Pakistan (#5; Islamic oppression)
6. Sudan (#4; Islamic oppression)
7. Eritrea (#6; dictatorial paranoia)
8. Yemen (#9; Islamic oppression)
9. Iran (#10; Islamic oppression)
10. India (#11; religious nationalism)
11. Syria (#15; Islamic oppression)

Very high persecution

12. Nigeria (#14; Islamic oppression)
13. Iraq (#8; Islamic oppression)
14. Maldives (#13; Islamic oppression)
15. Saudi Arabia (#12; Islamic oppression)
16. Egypt (#17; Islamic oppression)
17. Uzbekistan (#16; dictatorial paranoia)
18. Myanmar (#24; religious nationalism)
19. Laos (#20; communist and post-communist oppression)
20. Vietnam (#18; communist and post-communist oppression)
21. Central African Republic (#35; Islamic oppression)
22. Algeria (#42; Islamic oppression)
23. Turkmenistan (#19; dictatorial paranoia)
24. Mali (#37; Islamic oppression)
25. Mauritania (#47; Islamic oppression)
26. Turkey (#31; Islamic oppression)
27. China (#43; communist and post-communist oppression)
28. Ethiopia (#29; Islamic oppression)
29. Tajikistan (#22; dictatorial paranoia)
30. Indonesia (#38; Islamic oppression)
31. Jordan (#21; Islamic oppression)
32. Nepal (#25; religious nationalism)
33. Bhutan (#33; religious nationalism)
34. Kazakhstan (#28; dictatorial paranoia)
35. Morocco (unranked; Islamic oppression)
36. Brunei (#26; Islamic oppression)
37. Tunisia (#30; Islamic oppression)
38. Qatar (#27; Islamic oppression)
39. Mexico (#39; ethnic antagonism)
40. Kenya (#32; Islamic oppression)

High persecution

41. Russian Federation (unranked; Islamic oppression)
42. Malaysia (#23; Islamic oppression)
43. Kuwait (#34; Islamic oppression)
44. Oman (#46; Islamic oppression)
45. United Arab Emirates (#40; Islamic oppression)
46. Sri Lanka (#44; religious nationalism)
47. Colombia (#49; ethnic antagonism)
48. Bangladesh (#41; Islamic oppression)
49. Palestinian Territories (#36; Islamic oppression)
50. Azerbaijan (#45; dictatorial paranoia)
NOTE: Bahrain (#48; Islamic oppression) and Djibouti (#50; Islamic oppression) dropped off the World Watch List

Several places that Climbing For Christ members call their temporary home (Hebrews 13:14) made the list, including Pakistan at No. 5, Indonesia at No. 30, and Nepal at No. 32. To help us relate to the suffering in these places – and others on the list – read the thoughts of our co-workers:

PAKISTAN: Open Doors cites the “notorious blasphemy laws” and how our family continues to “live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy.” A ministry partner here tells us “according to Pakistani law, it is forbidden for us to talk about blasphemy nationally and internationally. If someone does, he or she will be punished by law.” This member said: “We hear every day that someone is persecuted in different cities, villages, towns, and colonies in Pakistan. Our Christian community is so fearful about this law. Every day our God saves us and protects us to work for Him in Pakistan.” PRAY for believers to stand in the face of persecution and threat of blasphemy.

INDONESIA: Attacks on churches have increased. In the latest, on Jan. 13, neighbors protested for the closure of a house church in North Sumatra. Open Doors states: “Muslim political parties and radical Islamic groups exert significant influence, resulting in Sharia-inspired policies and public opinion that opposes Christianity.” (Sharia is religious law based on teachings in the Quran and Hadith.) Our leader in Indonesia said, “The news (from Open Doors) is true.” This brother urged us to PRAY for his country’s April presidential election. “Pray for our current president (Joko Widodo, a moderate Muslim) to be re-elected. The second presidential candidate (Prabowo Subianto) is supported by radical Muslim political parties.” We know that God raises up leaders for His purpose and glory.

NEPAL: Hindu radicals “take advantage of the ongoing political instability by attacking Christians – often with impunity,” according to Open Doors. Nepal leaped from unranked to No. 25 in the 2018 World Watch List. Anti-conversion laws have heightened the persecution of Christians. “Nowadays, on every corner, demonic powers are rising up here,” said our worker there. This servant speaks about TV, radio, and social media programming encouraging attacks on the church so the Hindu kingdom can be re-established, and the secular government replaced. PRAY for the growth of the church to continue and for God to accomplish His work through Climbing For Christ. “We need prayer for protection,” said our worker, who reports God at work in a news item below. “May we see the miracles of God and (may the Holy Spirit) open the hearts of those giving rough speech among the Nepalese. His work will never stop in Nepal.” 

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