22 Feb 2022 Christian Persecution Trends
Over the past year, our partners in the field have shared amazing stories of answered prayers and Christian believers being resettled with their families to worship in freedom. With COVID-19 sweeping the planet, many of the consular and immigration services that we rely on saw delays, shut downs, and issues processing applications. Given the stress of the situations our brothers and sisters in Christ face, combined with more limited international immigration services, we saw an increase in persecution in many parts of the world.
Although it may seem shocking given how many minority groups and marginalized people we know are living under forms of persecution, one of the biggest human rights issues we are facing worldwide is Christian persecution. Just in the past year alone, there were over 340 million Christians living in areas of high persecution and discrimination. It is estimated that last year, 4,761 Christians were killed for their faith, 4,448 churches invaded and destroyed, and 4,277 believers faced imprisonment without hope of a trial. (Based on data collected from Open Doors USA)
There are currently fifty countries that made it to the top of Open Doors’ “World Watch List” for 2022. Millions of believers in these fifty countries are dealing with the harsh realities of persecution every day. These believers are in dire need of rescue and resettlement, and they are relying on people like us and your gracious prayers and donations to get to a place where they are safe and free to follow Jesus.
As of right now, Afghanistan sits at number one on the World Watch List. Leaving Islamic faith is often times shunned, and those that are choosing to convert to Christianity are facing extreme consequences if they are caught. This makes it almost impossible to avoid violent persecution at all, especially due to the Taliban reclaiming the country in 2021 and establishing strict Islamic law. World Christian Database reports that hundreds of Afghan Christian believers have been killed in recent years. The real numbers are unknown, and the church there is struggling to survive.
Afghanistan is one of the few countries that are desperate for our prayers. The other four countries that round out the top five are North Korea, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. In North Korea, they are dealing with something a little different. Instead of Islamic oppression, they are struggling with communist and post-communist oppression. North Korea has been at or near the top of the World Watch list for more than twenty years. According to opendoorsusa.org, any Christian that is caught receives immediate imprisonment, torture beyond belief, and death.
One of the biggest changes recently has been the pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed persecuted Christians in a way that no one saw coming. So many people were desperate for help, and it made it even more difficult to stay hidden. For many parts of the world, the one good thing the global pandemic brought was a decrease in violence. But for several hundred Christian villages in Nigeria, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, Christians there have had a 30% increase in violence since the previous year. (opendoorsusa.org) These villages are being attacked and destroyed by Islamic militants, and they are also destroying crops and fields.
This is just some of the reality persecuted Christians are facing today. Right now, persecution is at the highest it has ever been, and these countries need our prayers desperately. We will continue to do our best every day to create a safe place and hope for our Christian family. We believe that God will make a way.
With so many believers dealing with a crisis, we believe our role at Freedom Seekers International is to come alongside them to support their legal/immigration work, and provide monthly support for job training, education, and basic needs during their resettlement. If you want to help support a family to meet these needs, we can reach more people this coming year.
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- Open Doors USA
- US State Dept.
- World Christian Database