Thank you for the gift you’ve just given or order you have just made to support the work of Open Doors. Your support really does make a difference to the lives of people who share our faith but not our freedom.
It is because of generosity like yours that Open Doors is able to continue its vital work of serving the persecuted church around the world.
God is working powerfully through His suffering people. Despite great oppression and opposition, they are bringing the love of Jesus to the hurting and broken, shining the light of the gospel in the places where faith costs the most.
The 2020 Open Doors World Watch List ranks the 50 countries where persecution against Christians is most severe. The map here lists all 50 countries that appear on the list, but you can find out some more specific details about the top ten at the posts below. Have a look and join us in prayer for followers of Jesus who are facing extreme persecution.
The World Watch List (WWL) is an independently audited ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is worst. The list covers persecution of Christians of all denominations in that entire country. The focus is on persecution for faith, not persecution for political, economic, social, ethnic or accidental reasons.
Open Doors has been monitoring persecution of Christians worldwide since the 1970s and today, the World Watch List provides a comprehensive snapshot of the problem facing many followers of Jesus across the world.
Most importantly though, the list isn’t simply an academic exercise. Behind the stats and figures lie the fate of over 100 million members of our worldwide Church family, an essential tool in helping us pray and act for change.
It’s Time to Wake Up to extreme Persecution. Literally. So join us. From 15th September for 6 Mondays we’ll be waking up early to pray for secret Christians in North Korea who risk everything for Jesus.
If you’re up for it then get in touch, and we’ll send you our free ‘Wake Up and Pray’ Guide and a series of early morning emails to help you pray and act for persecuted Christians.
Plus, to show your support, send us a pic of you with your ‘wake up’ face, with bedhead, PJs and tired yawn all included. We’ll add your pic to our little wake up gallery (coming on our new site next month), but you can use it as your profile pic to show your support for the cause!
Sometimes life gets really tough. Sometimes things go wrong: you don’t get the grades you need; relationships breakdown; you lose a loved one; friends let you down; illness; bullying.
I’ve been in a place like this recently. Nearly everything I’d hoped for and thought was certain disappeared, virtually overnight. I felt, and still feel, confused and disorientated. I keep crying out ‘God where are you? What are you doing?’ It’s hard to see anything of Him in this situation. The reply comes back again and again ‘I’m here! I won’t fail or forsake you’. I know that that’s true, but I can’t quite fully grasp it, and I keep crying out ‘God where are you?’
So God has set me a challenge, an ‘Exercise in Thankfulness’. Everyday I’m writing down one thing that I’m thankful to Him for. Most of them are little things, like hanging out with friends or spotting a dragonfly, but God is in those things and He shows love through them.
In 1 Kings 19 Elijah is in a really tough place. Queen Jezebel has decided she wants him dead and he has run away into the wilderness. He lies down, telling God ‘I have had enough’ and prays to die. But God sends an angel to tend to Elijah’s needs and then speaks to him in a still, small whisper.
‘But the Lord was not in the wind…the Lord was not in the earthquake…the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire was the sound of a gentle whisper.’ 1Kings 19:12
I would love to know what God said to Elijah in that whisper. Whatever it was, it was so intimate, and reached so deep into Elijah’s heart, that it got him back up and running with his eyes firmly fixed on God, rather than on the storms around him.
He isn’t in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, or the difficulties of life. But He is with us in them, whispering gently in our ears. And although He whispers, He is so much bigger than any storm we might face.
God doesn’t always send us an angel with bread and water, because sometimes what we need is a friend with coffee and cake! He speaks to us in all kinds of small whispers, but sometimes we are so fixed on our own pain and hurt that we miss them for what they really are: intimate whispers from a loving father.
I guess that answers my question ‘God where are you?’ He isn’t in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, or the difficulties of life. But He is with us in them, whispering gently in our ears. And although He whispers, He is so much bigger than any storm we might face.
I’m still struggling with this, but that’s why God has set me a challenge. It means that I have to be actively looking out for the angels with bread (or cake!) and listening for His whisper.
Why not join me? What is God whispering to you today? Who is He demonstrating His love through? What do you have to be thankful for? God has promised He will never fail or forsake you (Joshua 1:5) – and God always keeps His promises.
The reality is, that today, around the world, a massive part of the church is suffering. In more than 60 countries, over 100 million Christians live in places where they can’t openly practice their faith. In places like North Korea, the church is completely blacked out, surviving and growing as an underground movement.
Christians are imprisoned, sentenced to long stints in labour camps and subject to some pretty intense physical and mental torture. It’s nothing short of hell on earth. These courageous believers are silenced. They are kept quiet, with a whole government and military agenda aimed at ensuring they make as little noise as possible.
But it’s not just North Korea. In Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and many, many other places the church is bleeding. Militant religious agendas seem to be motivating all sorts of extreme persecution with terrorist groups like Boko Haram (in Nigeria), Al Shabaab (in Somalia) and Isis (in Syria/Iraq) all targeting Christians. Murder and torture are depressingly common.
Sadly this is the reality. Jesus always said the choice to follow him would cost us something (Luke 14v31), but many Christians around the world are paying the highest price for their faith.
But sometimes, silence is the loudest scream. We hear their whispered stories. We know of their courage and bravery. We’re challenged by their relentless passion for Jesus. We’re astounded by their sacrificial love.
We’re moved to stand with them in prayer. To help in whatever way we can. How can we not? They are part of our family.
Followers of Jesus around the world are shining God’s love and light. The church is alive, active and living out God’s mission. And that’s why Christians are being persecuted.
Around the world, 1 in every 8 Christians face high, very high or extreme levels of persecution. That means they can face death, horrific violence, arrest, torture, imprisonment, harassment or rejection simply because of their choice to follow Jesus.
For us Christians in the West, living out our faith can seem very different. We don’t gather in secret. We don’t fear that our attendance at a worship night might get us arrested. Our grades aren’t marked down because of our beliefs. We can openly talk about God and share his love with others without worrying we could face prison.
But our relationship with Jesus connects us to secret believers around the world. We share the same heartbeat. Together, we are God’s Church. Brothers and sisters – part of the same body, all seeking to show the love we’ve received to the world around us. And when one part of the body suffers, we all do.
We support people who are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.