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Persecuted Church Countries: World Watch List

 

‘Open Doors USA’ is a Christian organisation which monitors the persecuted church around the world. They recently put out their World Watch List for the top countries in the world where religious freedom is curtailed by oppressive forces. Some of these are due to ideological powers like Communism, and others by religious exclusivism and extremism. Still others, are at the mercy of 'dictatorial paranoia', or religious nationalism. The top 20 countries where Christians are persecuted around the world are:

  1. North Korean
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Somalia
  4. Sudan
  5. Pakistan
  6. Eritrea
  7. Libya
  8. Iraq
  9. Yemen
  10. Iran
  11. India
  12. Saudi Arabia
  13. Maldives
  14. Nigeria
  15. Syria
  16. Uzbekistan
  17. Egypt
  18. Vietnam
  19. Turkmenistan
  20. Laos

How should Christians think about these countries, knowing that brothers and sisters and Christ are oppressed for Jesus’ sake, and that in contrast, we enjoy such relative comfort, safety and freedom here at home?

First, we should pray, lament and cry out for these countries. This side of our heavenly home, we must learn to pray as Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Pray for the suffering church to stand firm in such difficult circumstances, and for continued, untarnished witness. Pray for God to work justice and righteousness in oppressive governments, even when we don’t know enough about the socio-political forces at work. We can and we must pray for the persecuted church. In care groups or in any appropriate settings, let us remember to intercede for the church around the world.

Second, we should remember that we, like they, are called to persevere and not be ashamed of the gospel. While here in Singapore, we ought to be thankful for religious freedoms and all that we enjoy, we must never take these for granted, since Jesus promises that in this life, there will be opposition. We must be focused on our call to advance the gospel and endure, even when the winds of culture are changing all around us. As we see what our brethren are experiencing, let us not overglamorise suffering, neither let us ignore it – let us simply remember that we, like they, are called to be faithful.