Expanding violent Islamic militancy across South and Southeast Asia
The influence of radical Islamic ideology also emerged in completely unexpected atrocities, such as the coordinated Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed almost 300 people, men, women and children, mostly Christians. Some 176 children lost one or both parents that day. In one year, Sri Lanka jumped to No. 30 from No. 46 on the World Watch List. The Southeast Asian country recorded the third-highest deaths of believers.
Across the top 50 countries on the World Watch List, pressure is rising. In 2020, 45 countries registered a “very high” level of persecution. Last year, the number was 40. The total points of persecution scores in these 50 countries have spiked, and the threshold to get into the top 50 has risen again. Persecution against Christians has risen for 14 consecutive years.
In many Asian countries violence is more “subtle.” In a country such as India—once again No. 10 on the World Watch List, Open Doors partners have shared numerous accounts of violence. Christians are beaten up, injured or chased away from their homes. Many live in fear. But the number of killings of Christians is very limited. Over the last year in India, the martyrdom of nine believers were reported. Again, this number is likely higher.
One Church, One Family
Open Doors estimates that there are at least a further 50 million Christians facing high levels of persecution in 23 other countries not in the top 50.
The numbers are important, but the World Watch List research represents so much more. Behind every statistic and fact is a life, a family, a church that represents deep suffering but also courage and inspiring faith. Through Jesus, we and every Christian living in North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan and the rest of the top 50 countries on the 2020 World Watch List are one Church, one Family.
Please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters tonight.
To read more about Christian persecution, click here to see the list and download the full report. To help you pray with these believers, Open Doors has a mobile prayer app that alerts you to prayer requests from believers. Learn more about it and sign up to get regular updates delivered to your phone.
Released at the beginning of each year, the World Watch List uses extensive research, data from Open Doors field workers and external experts to quantify and analyze persecution worldwide. It is certified by the International Institute for Religious Freedom.