As the new year begins to pick up speed, there is one alarming headline that doesn’t seem to be drawing adequate publicity. Although many Americans remain unaware, persecution of Christianity has continued to rise worldwide, creating a trend of increasingly dire statistics in the past few years. At the beginning of this month, Open Doors USA released a 2017 World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution. Shockingly, Christians face severe persecution in at least 21 of the countries on the list, enduring unimaginable wrongs for their faith.
In an article by The Christian Post elaborating on the report, Open Doors USA CEO David Curry lamented that “2016 was the worst year of persecution on record with a shocking 215 million Christians experiencing high levels of persecution for their faith.” Topping the list repeatedly is communist regime North Korea. According to The Christian Post:
In North Korea, Christians are prohibited from practicing their faith and can be killed or jailed for simply owning a Bible. As the Communist Kim regime forces citizens to accept the cultic belief that the Kim family is divine, thousands of Christians have been killed and entire families have been thrown into torturous labor “reeducation” camps for practicing their faith or trying to defect.
The International Business Times also reported any increase in Christian persecution, and according to ChristianHeadlines.com, “Nearly 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in the past year, which is the equivalent of one Christian being martyred every six minutes.”
Unfortunately, Middle Eastern countries and regimes also continue to target Christians, torturing them in the most inhumane of manners, all in the name of Allah. A recent article in The Huffington Post detailed some of the more recent shocking persecution:
Islamic State has used beheadings, abductions, sexual slavery, forced conversions and crucifixions to terrorize Christians. In the past few months: more than 30 Christians were hacked to death by Islamist militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo; churches in Pakistan and Egypt were attacked; a Muslim convert to Christianity was beaten to death in Uganda; Christians caught taking communion wine faced flogging in Iran and 27 Christians were arrested for possessing Bibles in Saudi Arabia.
Despite the startling stories that continue to surface, little has been done by the US or other countries to protect the religious freedom of persecuted Christians. Oftentimes they are forgotten, not prayed for, and unsupported. It’s important that we continue to remember these suffering men, women, and children in our prayers, and continue to tell their stories, in hopes that these horrendous acts will no longer be tolerated. Everyone deserves the right to worship freely – without having to fear for their life – and we must continue to champion that right until it becomes rule.