Open Doors in January released its World Watch List where they rank the top fifty countries where Christians face persecution. This list is compiled by looking at five aspects of a Christian’s life – Private, Family, Community, National and Church and the freedoms that are threatened or have already been lost within these contexts.
For the fourteenth year in a row North Korea tops the list. It is estimated between 50,000-70,000 Christians are enslaved in the nation’s labor camps. It seems the long time stand off between North Korea and America only exacerbates the Christian’s plight as the regime sees the church as a Western institute and any Christian as potentially dangerous to national security. Christian identity is carefully hidden even from family members often for their own protection. The whole nation gives the impression of living in fear while feigning enthusiastic, dogged obedience to the every whim and fancy of a fellow man.
May God set the captives of North Korea free.
Open Doors points out that what is disturbing, is once where North Korea reached their Number One spot miles ahead of any other country, that gap is closing swiftly and soon we may see tussles between who takes out the top spot.
Number Two on their list is Iraq, up one place from last year. Lawlessness reigns in Iraq and Christians and their communities are threatened for the first time in two millennia with being completely ousted from this part of the Middle East. Some very brave Christians are choosing to stay amidst the violence and chaos to show Christ’s love to those with great humanitarian and spiritual need.
Please pray for Iraq.
Number Three is Eritrea up six places from last year. The whole nation seems to be on the move to escape the authoritarian, anti-freedom government of Isaias Afewerki, with many of the refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe being from Eritrea. From Christians imprisoned in shipping containers, to prolonged and indefinite conscription into the nation’s army and the mysterious disappearance of church leaders, all make for a hopeless outlook for this nation whose youth population is being rapidly depleted.
Please pray for the hope and salvation of Eritrea.
The remainder of the list is made up of nations predominantly within the world’s 10/40 window which is plagued with Islamic extremism, corruption, Communism and a lack of respect for life. With the exception of Niger and Bahrain, the rest of the list is made up of repeat offenders. Sadly, those outside the 10/40 window are largely silent to their fellow human being’s suffering.
The solution lies in transformed hearts and minds through the love of Yahshua – for those who are persecutors and also for those in Christ who are not currently facing persecution. May we be spurred on by God’s Spirit to make time to pray for our brothers and sisters in Messiah who are suffering.
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3
And be encouraged,
“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16