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Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith. Every day, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted. So reports the 2021 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following Jesus.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/january/christian-persecution-2021-countries-open-doors-watch-list.html

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Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another End Times post.

Last year I published Do Not Fear the End Times Part 90: Persecution World. It was an overview of the worst five countries in the world for Christian persecution. The information came from the Open Doors Foundation, which compiles a list every year of the worst 50 countries for Christian persecution.

The 2022 Open Doors Foundation report on Christian persecution around the world is available now. You can read it HERE.

In today’s post, I overview the worst five countries from the list and we can see how the list is different from last year. As we read these profiles, let’s be Grateful if we live in a country where we don’t face such persecution for our Faith!!

They Will Hate You on Account of My Name

We know, because Jesus warned us, that the Christian life comes with persecution (Matthew 10:22). The world will hate us because we confess Him as our LORD and Savior and Love.

(22) Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:22 (CEB)

So we should not be surprised by any rejection we face trying to live our Christian lives or evangelize. But there are different levels to the kind of opposition and rejection we face.

At the lowest level, we can expect to be mocked and ridiculed for our Christian beliefs. This is fine—we can easily turn the other cheek to this, no problem. It’s best to let this go and don’t even respond—a tactic which is very irritating to the mocker!

But at the other end of the scale, Christians facing the highest level of persecution risk death. There are countless Christians in this world under the constant threat of death or imprisonment. We know that in the End Times there will be increasing persecution of Christians. If we look around our world today, we can already see this happening in many countries.

To learn more, today we’re going to look at the five countries where Christians faced the most persecution in 2021. The 2022 Open Doors Foundation is based off information from 2021. Each report is created with the last year’s info.

There are two reasons for my post today. First, I ask everyone to pray for the Christians who face persecution for practicing their Faith. Second, I want us all to be Grateful if we don’t live under this persecution. If you, like me, live in a country where we can go to church and have zero anxiety about getting arrested or killed, then we must be Grateful. We must thank God for that, because we can look around the world and see that things could be much, much different.

To be able to openly confess and practice our Faith is a true blessing. Keep that in mind as we read this new report on the state of Christian persecution around the world.

Persecution around the World (2022)

The Open Doors Foundation list of fifty countries gives a score of how bad the persecution of Christians is in each country. It also gives a brief report on that country and what life is like there for Christians. It explains what’s the reason for the persecution of Christians in that country; that kind of info.

But the report also notes that just because a country didn’t make it into the top fifty doesn’t mean there isn’t persecution there. There are many countries besides these fifty where Christians are persecuted. So let’s keep that in mind too.

Anyway, let’s look at the five worst countries from the 2022 World Watch List report. I do encourage you to follow the link and check out the report for yourself.

#5: Yemen

Score: 88.26

Region: Asia

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

What does persecution look like in Yemen?? What’s life like for Christians??

Yemeni Christians mostly are converts from Islam who must live out their faith in secret because conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden both in Islam and in Yemeni law. Christian converts are pressured by both the government and from their communities to recant their faith in Jesus. They might be arrested or interrogated for their faith, and face threats from both family and Islamic extremists who threaten apostates with death. Yemeni culture is extremely tribal, and often the tribal punishment for denouncing Islam can be death or banishment. Both male and female converts to Christianity who are married to Muslims risk divorce—and may lose custody of their children. Yemen is home to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world, and all Yemenis suffer—but Yemeni Christians are additionally vulnerable, since emergency relief is mostly distributed through local Muslim leaders and local mosques. These groups have been accused of discriminating against anyone who is not considered to be a devout Muslim.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/yemen/

Open Doors has moved Yemen “up” two spots in the list from last year, to be the number five worst country for Christian persecution. Part of the reason is the ongoing civil war and accompanying humanitarian crisis—by which all Yemenis suffer. But in a civil war situation, armed groups can take advantage of the lack of order and carry out vendettas against Christians or anyone else they hate. This means Christians in Yemen are exposed and vulnerable.

#4: Libya

Score: 90.93

Region: Africa

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

What does persecution look like in Libya?? What’s life like for Christians??

When a person in Libya leaves Islam to follow Christ, they face immense pressure from their families to renounce their faith. Their neighbors and the rest of the community ostracizes them, and they can be left homeless, jobless and alone. If a Libyan Christian shares his or her faith with someone else, they will likely be reported, arrested and perhaps face violent punishment. The country has no central government, so laws are not enforced uniformly, leaving Christians in danger of overt and public persecution. Targeted kidnappings and executions are always a possibility for believers. To be a safe Christian in Libya is to live a secret life of faith.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/libya/

In the report from last year, Open Doors explained that the near-anarchy situation in Libya contributed to Christian persecution. When the government isn’t very capable of enforcing laws, it’s possible for vulnerable groups to be targeted in various ways. And in Libya, Christians are one of those vulnerable groups.

But even when laws are enforced, it might not be that helpful for some Christians in Libya. Sometimes laws are arbitrarily used to target them only for being Christian. What I mean is, laws and regulations can be made up or abused on the spot. That kind of thing. This type of abuse has been used to evict some Libyan Christian congregations from their churches.

#3: Somalia

Score: 91.43

Region: Africa

Persecution Type: Clan oppression

What does persecution look like in Somalia?? What’s life like for Christians??

For more than 25 years, Somalia has been a safe haven for Islamic militants who constantly target Christians both in Somalia and in neighboring countries. Groups like al-Shabab operate with seemingly little pushback and control large parts of Somali territory. The small number of believers in Somalia are largely Christians who have converted from Islam. Christians are viewed as high-value targets by al-Shabab. Even when Christian converts are not targeted by Islamic extremists, they are intensely pressured by their family. Any conversion from Islam is seen as a betrayal to family and community, so just suspicion of conversion can lead to harassment, intimidation and even murder. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, al-Shabab continued to be active in 2021—a reminder that life for Christians in Somalia is never safe.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/somalia/

The only good news for Somalia this year is Open Doors notes a slight decrease in violent attacks on Christians. The “Violence” category which is part of the total country score has dropped. That’s good news, but Christians in Somalia still face extreme danger.

Like in Libya, above, the lack of a government that can enforce some kind of order adds to the danger Somali Christians face every day. Somalia is home to certain Muslim extremist militia groups such as the al-Shabab mentioned above. Christians in Somalia are very much on their own in a place with Muslim extremists on the prowl. We must pray for their safety.

#2: North Korea

Score: 96.48

Region: Asia

Persecution Type: Communist and post-communist oppression

What does persecution look like in North Korea?? What’s life like for Christians??

North Korea has been at or near the top of the World Watch List for more than 20 years. Thats because any North Korean caught following Jesus is at immediate risk of imprisonment, brutal torture and death. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in North Koreas notorious system of prisons and labor camps. And, to make matters worse, often a family will share the same fate as the person captured. The government ruled by the Kim family views Christians as the most dangerous political class of people, and the persecution is violent and intense. North Korean parents often hide their faith from their children, churches of more than a few people are non-existent, and most worship is done as secretly as possible. Life for Christians in North Korea is a constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a mistake away.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/north-korea/

This year North Korea dropped from the #1 worst country to #2. But don’t let that fool you—this is a terrible country for Christians. Having a Bible can get you the death penalty, or, perhaps the sentence will be slavery in the labor camps instead.

Add to this the COVID-19 pandemic and failed food harvests in North Korea, and the situation is even more grim. Christians in North Korea are in constant danger from many different directions. Those of us who don’t live in such conditions must be Grateful to God for that. I can’t imagine how hard it is to deal with the constant psychological pressure of avoiding prison.

#1: Afghanistan

Score: 98.33

Region: Asia

Persecution Type: Islamic oppression

What does persecution look like in Afghanistan?? What’s life like for Christians??

It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they must flee the country or they will be killed. This was true before the Taliban takeover: the situation has become even more dangerous for believers this year. The Taliban will make sure that Islamic rules and customs are implemented and kept. Christian converts don’t have any option but to obey them.

If a Christians new faith is discovered, their family, clan or tribe has to save its honor by disowning the believer, or even killing them. This is widely considered to be justice. Alternatively, since leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity, a Christian who has converted from Islam may be forcibly sectioned in a psychiatric hospital.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/afghanistan/

This past year, Afghanistan moved from #2 to the #1 worst country in the world for Christian persecution. As we all know, last year the hard-line Islamic Taliban took over control of the country. It’s in their hands now.

As the paragraph above says, there are major cultural prejudices against being Christian in Afghanistan. Open Doors points out this was the case even before the Taliban retook control, since Afghanistan was at the #2 spot on the watch list for many years. But with the hard-line Taliban now in control, we can expect the persecution of Christians to get even worse. Afghani Christian need prayers … and evacuation too ….

Give Respect, and Give Thanks

Again, let’s all reflect on what a blessing it is to be able to worship and practice our Faith without fear of jail or death.

I’ll finish with the same verse I started with—Matthew 10:22.

(22) Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:22 (CEB)

We know that the world will hate us and be hostile to the Christian message at all times. But we also know that in the End Times, there will be even more persecution of the church. The 2022 World Watch List shows that in some countries, this persecution already happens every day.

Let’s all pray for the Christians facing this kind of persecution around the world. Let’s give them the full respect they deserve for the strength of their Faith. Let’s recognize their courage in being Christian in the face of such danger.
And let’s recognize the blessing of being able to practice our Faith with no fear of death or imprisonment. And let’s all admire the strength of Faith that persecuted Christians have. There are so many deadly risks for them in being a Christian. But they hold firm to the Christian Faith anyway. Let’s ask ourselves if we would have the courage and Faith to be a Christian if we were in their situation.

God wants us to be grateful for all our blessings. It’s important to recognize the blessings many of us often take for granted. I live in a country where I can go to church and be a Christian with no fear. How about you?? If you have the same freedom to practice the Faith like I do, then let’s thank and praise our good God even louder this weekend.

And let’s never stop praying for those who can’t do the same.

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One comment on “Do Not Fear the End Times Part 134: Persecution World (2022)

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