The World Watch List 2022 has been released. It’s the most authoritative list of its kind, studying the most dangerous places to be a Christian.
This year, we’ve seen persecution continue to rise and affect more Christians than ever before.
Here are some of the trends in the persecution of Christians today as revealed by the new World Watch List
1. In 7 Christians Are Persecuted For Their Faith
More than 360 million Christians face high to extreme levels of persecution and discrimination right now.
That’s 2 in every 5 Christians in Asia, 1 out of 5 in Africa and 1 out of 15 in Latin America.
This is a large jump from last year which saw at least 340 million (1 in 8) Christians facing persecution and discrimination.
2. Afghanistan Rises To Number One
Afghanistan overtook North Korea as the most dangerous country to be a Christian – the first time North Korea has moved from the number one spot since 2002.
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan forced thousands of families and communities of believers to flee for their lives in a desperate search for safety.
“The Taliban are hunting down anyone who is not with them,” said Jan Vermeer, Communications Director of Open Doors Asia. “If they are Christians they won’t be spared.”
But the Taliban’s takeover affected more than those in Afghanistan. It emboldened extremist groups all over the world in places like Indonesia, Pakistan and Somalia, adding to a global rise in violence.
3. Violent Persecution Rises
A reported 4,761 believers were killed for their faith in the last year. 79% of those were in Nigeria, where extremist groups like Boko Haram targeted Christian communities, destroyed homes, killed believers, and abducted school children. Hundreds remain missing.
4. Authorities Crackdown On Technology
Crackdowns on social media and digital content in places like China put added pressure on churches and persecuted Christians.
The Chinese government banned some Bible apps, leaving many believers without easy access to the Word. Authorities also arrested one man for operating an online Christian bookstore, launching a nationwide investigation into all his customers.
5. COVID-19 Adds Additional Pressure
COVID-19 continued to place additional pressure on the persecuted church, making it easier for authorities to monitor believers and shut down churches. in some places, believers were turned away from the health care and emergency relief they needed, and extremist groups used the pandemic as an opportunity to expand their control.
Over 360 Million
The World Watch List is so much more than a ranking of the most dangerous places to be a Christian. It represents people. Our brothers and sisters. The 1 in 7 persecuted for following Jesus, no matter the cost.
Every Christian should know the cost of following Jesus. By signing up here to receive the latest updates from the persecuted church, you can grow your understanding and be equipped to pray as we stand together as one Church.