The 2014 World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution, was officially launched today. Sadly, persecution is increasing in many of the countries on the World Watch List. Here are the five most important things to know about the 2014 World Watch List:
- North Korea ranks as the most difficult country in the world to be a Christian for the 12th year in a row. Believers must hide their decision to follow Christ. Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long prison camp sentence. It is estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are imprisoned for their faith.
- For the first time in the history of the World Watch List, Somalia is ranked #2. Although the capital is under a more moderate Muslim government, surveillance is conducted to root out converts from Islam and Christians must keep their faith a secret. Large parts of the country remain ungovernable and the terrorist group al-Shabaab is responsible for multiple attacks on Christians and is striving to impose an even more restrictive form of Sharia law.
- Syria has jumped to the 3rd spot on the World Watch List, up from #11 in 2013 and #36 in 2012. Violence against the Christian community has drastically increased since the start of the civil war. Syria had more Christians martyred for their faith(at least 1,213) than any country on the World Watch List.
- In 36 of the 50 countries on the list, the main engine driving persecution of Christians Islamic extremism.
- There are three new countries on the list. In the Central African Republic (#16), violence is often directed at Christians by the Seleka rebel alliance. Sri Lanka (#29) has seen a significant increase in violent attacks against Christians and churches within the past year. In Bangladesh (#48) Islamic extremist groups try to push the government to modify the constitution, demanding the establishment of Sharia Law and have even killed those who stand in their way.
Though these facts and figures are absolutely devastating, we know that our hope is in Christ and that He his faithful to hear the prayers of His people. This year Open Doors has multiple resources available to help you pray for believers in these countries. Be sure to go to www.WorldWatchList.us to sign-up to receive our World Watch List emails highlighting stories, prayer requests, infographics, and other resources from a country on the World Watch List each week. Thank you for your willingness to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, as well as your willingness to share this important message with others!