World Watch List 2016

Saudi Arabia

Main Source of Persecution: Islamic Extremism

Expatriate Christians risk detention and deportation

The majority of Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates or migrants, however there are also a few Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) who live out their faith in deep secrecy. For expatriates, sharing their Christian faith with Muslims comes with the risk of detention and deportation.

Public worship is forbidden

Centuries ago, Saudi Arabia had a large Christian population with church buildings, clergy and synagogues. Today, public Christian worship is forbidden and Saudi citizens are only allowed to adhere to Islam.

The desert kingdom is defined by Wahhabism, a purist and strict interpretation of Islam. It is forbidden to openly practice other religions. Saudi Arabia controls the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, which are the birth and resting places of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

Growing youth population are longing for more freedom

There is a growing gap between Saudi’s large youth population and the ageing monarchs. Young people are longing for more freedom, especially women. The majority of the population is under thirty and the youth culture has radically changed under the influence of satellite television, the internet and social media. These digital mediums have also opened a new door to access Christian materials.

Expatriate Christians meet discreetly in small groups in most major cities, which is often allowed, so long as they don’t evangelise to Muslims. Migrant workers, including Christians, have been exposed to verbal, physical and sexual abuse from employers.
The number of Christian converts from Islam and other religions is increasing, along with their boldness in sharing their new faith.

Please Pray:

  • For God to work miraculously among the Muslim community, bringing them to faith in Him.
  • Being a woman and a Christian increases the severity of persecution; pray for the government to respect women and grant more freedom to worship for women and men.
  • For protection from the police for house churches, who meet and worship in secret.