1 in 8 Christians worldwide are persecuted for following Jesus.
“We take every opportunity to pray for one another and share scriptures that make us strong and give us hope.” – Titus, China, #23 on the 2020 World Watch List.
As technology saturation increases all over the world, Christians now face persecution from new angles. Surveillance cameras, facial recognition software and even artificial intelligence have been used to target Chinese Christians and shut down their churches. But the church is strong and committed to finding ways for fellowship despite the risks they face.
Why The Persecuted Church Matters
The 2020 World Watch List once again shows that the cost of following Jesus is increasing all over the world.
Now more than ever before, the global body of Christ needs to stand united, both parts serving the other, and together helping each other follow Jesus all over the world, no matter the cost.
As the persecuted church count the cost of following Jesus because of the risks they face, they are the perfect mentors for our faith. As we learn about them, we also learn lessons of courageous faith from them.
You can receive monthly devotionals featuring stories from the persecuted church, reflections on a Bible passage and a prayer straight to your inbox each month by signing up for the Purpose Devotional.
Where are Christians most persecuted?
Christians are persecuted all over the world. See our World Watch List to discover the 50 countries where it is hardest to follow Jesus.
What is the World Watch List?
The World Watch List ranks the top 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus.
For each country, the List looks at the persecution Christians endure in their public and private lives.
How is the World Watch List measured?
We measure developing trends each year from 1 November – 31 October through on the ground interviews and data collection. We do this in over 70 countries to see where the Church is most under pressure, but also where God is most at work.
We distinguish two main types of persecution: violence and pressure.
Number of violent incidents in the reporting period.
Pressure is measured for Christians in five spheres of life: Private, Family, National, Church and Community.
Each country is scored from a detailed report on violent incidents and different spheres of pressure on Christians. These scores are then added up to a total score out of 100 to create the ranking.
What types of persecution do Christians face?
We use these eight broad categories to measure where persecution comes from:
Islamic Oppression - Any violent or non-violent action used to bring Christians under Islamic rule.
Religious Nationalism - Using the majority religion of a country (usually Hinduism and Buddhism, but also orthodox Judaism or other religions) to imply Christians do not qualify as citizens.
Clan and Ethnic Antagonism - Using cultural and tribal norms based on traditional religion to suggest Christians are outsiders.
Denominational Protectionism - To maintain one’s Christian denomination as the only legitimate expression of Christianity in the country.
Communist/Post-Communist Oppression - To monitor and control churches through a system of biased registration.
Secular Intolerance - To eradicate Christian expression from public life and impose an atheistic secularism.
Dictatorial Paranoia - Does everything to maintain power, including tearing down organised groups–like Christians.
Organised Corruption & Crime - To create a climate of anarchy and corruption as a means for self-enrichment. Christians will often speak out against this and become targets.
How many Christians are persecuted?
We estimate that in the top 50 countries alone, 260 million Christians face intimidation, prison, or even death for their faith in Jesus. 1 in 8 Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith.
What makes the World Watch List reliable?
For almost 30 years, Open Doors has produced the World Watch List.
The list is compiled by eight persecution analysts who focus on a particular region. Each are experts in their fields of study with postgraduate or doctoral qualifications.
The list is audited externally by the International Institute for Religious Freedom is accepted as the most authoritative list of its kind.