What Would Your Life Be Like In The Top 10 Countries?
Imagine walking to Bible study, constantly looking over your shoulder to ensure you aren’t being followed. Imagine getting ready for church, knowing that nearly 300 churches have been attacked in your country. Imagine knowing that not only you, but your parents, your children and your grandchildren have been sentenced to life in a prison camp because your faith was discovered.
These thoughts never cross our minds as we get ready for Bible study, sit in church or when someone discovers our faith. But this is reality for many Christians around the world.
So what’s it like to live in the worst places on earth to be a Christian? Take a deeper look at the top ten countries on the 2014 World Watch List:
- North Korea
For the 12th consecutive year, this is where Christian persecution is most extreme. The God-like worship of Kim Jong-Un and his predecessors leaves no room for any other religion. Forced to meet only in secret, Christians dare not share their faith, even with their families. Anyone discovered engaging in secret religious activity may be subject to arrest, torture or even public execution.
Islamic leaders and government officials publicly reinforce that there is no room for Christians in Somalia. The Islamic extremist group, al-Shabaab, targets Christians and last year reports indicate that at least ten believers were killed by the group. Christians often hide their faith from one another, for fear of betrayal.
As the conflict inside Syria worsens, targeted violence against Christians has escalated. Many Christians have been abducted, physically harmed or killed, and many churches damaged or destroyed. In October, Islamic extremists invaded the ancient Christian settlement of Sadad, killing at least 45 people, and injuring many more.
Islamic terrorist groups are increasing and are aiming to rid the country of Christians. According to a local source, every two or three days a Christian is killed, kidnapped or abused. As a minority group, Christians are an easy target for kidnappers.
The country remains unstable, and Islamic extremist groups continue to gain power. Christianity is considered a ‘Western’ religion and those who leave Islam face pressures from family, society and local authorities. An Afghan politician recently called for the execution of converts to Christianity. There is no public church.
- Saudi Arabia
The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden and conversion to another faith is punishable by death. During 2013, several Christian migrant fellowships were raided by police, and many worshippers were detained and deported. In spite of all this, a growing number of Muslims are coming to Christ.
To be Maldivian is equated with being Muslim, so officially there are no Maldivian Christians, only expatriate Christians. The law prohibits conversion to other faiths, and those who do so face losing citizenship. There are no church buildings, and the few Maldivian Christians must hide their faith to avoid being discovered.
The notorious blasphemy laws continue to have devastating consequences for Christians. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, and sexual assaults against underage Christian girls by Muslim men continue to be reported. A twin bomb attack on Anglican All Saints Church in Peshawar left 89 people dead.
Since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warning of the ever-expanding influence of house churches, the treatment of Christians has rapidly worsened. The regime monitors church services, arrests converts, bans Farsi language services and has closed some churches. However, the church continues to grow.
There is some religious freedom for foreigners here, but evangelism is prohibited, and Yemenis who leave Islam may face the death penalty. Muslim-background believers are forced to meet in secret. Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists.