The 2020 World Watch List, ranking the 50 most dangerous countries to follow Jesus, has now been released. Here is what has happened in the past year in the five most dangerous places to be a Christian.
North Korea has been the most dangerous place on the planet to follow Jesus for the last 19 years.
Image: People resting on rail road track in the Northern region of North Korea.
This year saw a crackdown on defectors, including Christians, with family members held hostage to put pressure on those who fled. Authorities raided homes, torturing and even killing many believers. The government halved food rations to just 300 grams of food per person each day, leaving isolated Christians additionally vulnerable.
Believers in Afghanistan continued to live their faith in complete secrecy. Several converts were reported to have lost their lives, as well as some foreign Christian aid workers.
Image: Men and their donkeys in a quiet street of Afghanistan.
While elections took place, experts believe it is unlikely to lessen religious persecution in the country. The United States of America also took its first steps towards negotiating peace with the Taliban. Afghanistan has not known peace now for over 40 years.
This year, extreme pressure and Islamic militancy continued to force Somalia’s small Christian population into hiding.
Image: A Somali woman in a North Eastern Kenyan town.
Islamic extremist group, al-Shabaab, continued its conflict in the region. Targeted attacks led to many lives lost and many more displaced. Millions were also affected by drought and famine, leading hundreds of thousands to flee the country and leaving remaining Christians vulnerable.
Believers remained under intense pressure as Libya’s civil war continued to create an uncertain and violent landscape. The lack of law and order left Christians vulnerable.
Image: Libyan men sitting on the Fountain of The Sea Horses at Martyrs square, Tripoli.
Anyone found to have faith in Jesus was subject to pressure from their family, community, and extremists. Christian migrants fleeing from neighbouring regions were attacked and placed into detention camps.
Despite elections scheduled for the spring of 2019, a surge of military action throughout the country led to its postponement. Instability allowed human trafficking to continue as a booming industry in Libya, to which Christians were particularly vulnerable.
Viewed as second-class citizens, many Christians lost their jobs and were forced into poverty.
Image: Markets in Pakistan where locals seek work.
Several believers lost their lives, and many of their attackers went unpunished by authorities. Attacks remained common and targeted religious spaces like churches and cemeteries.
Asia Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy charges after spending eight years on death row, instilling hope for Christians in Pakistan. However, several others are still facing the death penalty for the same crime.
In the past year, Christians continued to be persecuted for their faith all over the world. Despite this, God has been working to grow His Church, with many coming to know Jesus and share His truth. In the most dangerous places on the planet, Christians continue to follow Jesus, no matter the cost.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.