The Problem

100 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus

All across the world Christians are living in horrifically hostile places. They are beaten, abused, tortured, victimised and accused just because of their faith. They have no voice. We don’t always hear their stories. They are hidden. Forgotten. Ignored.

For us in the West, church is very different. We don’t gather in secret. We don’t fear that our attendance at a worship night might put us on a government blacklist. We can openly talk about God and meet with others.

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.

2019 World Watch List

The 2019 Open Doors World Watch List ranks the 50 countries where persecution against Christians is most severe. North Korea is again at the top of the list. India – the world’s largest democracy – has risen to its highest ever position of 10, as Hindu nationalists continue to attack other religious minorities. Islamic extremism continues to strangle the expression of the Christian faith, fuelling persecution in eight out of the top ten countries.

The map here lists all 50 countries, but you can find out some more specific details about the top ten on the list below. Have a look and join us in prayer for followers of Jesus who are facing extreme persecution.

Country Profiles

Persecution Level:

  Extreme:Severe   Very High:Absolute   High:Moderate

The Problem

North Korea

For yet another year North Korea is officially the worst place in the world to be a Christian...
The Problem


In Afghanistan Christian converts face massive pressure from extremists...

Key trends and facts

Each year the World Watch List reveals some depressingly dark facts. This year is no different. But behind the facts are also signs of hope. Read the points below to get the full picture.

What you need to know: three trends…

  • Authoritarian states are clamping down and using legal regulations to control religion.
  • Ultra-nationalists are depicting Christians as ‘alien’ or ‘western’ and trying to drive them out.
  • Radical Islam has moved from the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa.

Key facts…

  • North Korea (1) tops the World Watch List for the 18th year in a row. Despite its ranking in the top slot it did free three Korean-American Christians from a North Korean prison.
  • Persecution of Christians is getting worse. Five years ago only one country – North Korea – was ranked in the ‘extreme’ category for its level of persecution of Christians. This year, 11 countries score enough to fit that category.
  • China (27) has risen 16 places in the list after new Regulations for Religious Affairs came into force in February 2018.
  • In Myanmar (18) tens of thousands of members of the Karen tribe – a majority-Christian ethnic tribe – have been killed and least 120,000 displaced.
  • India (10) has entered the top ten for the first time. The BJP-led government continues to promote an extremist militant Hindu agenda.
  • In Turkey (26) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been stirring up ultra-nationalistic sentiment for some time and this has caused added difficulties for Christians in Turkey, especially Evangelicals.
  • As radical Islam has been forced out of the Middle East, it has spread into sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 30 violent Islamic extremist groups are known to be active in the region.
  • Islamic militants also have also gained strength in failed states like Somalia (3), Libya (4) and Yemen (8), where they continue to recruit, and capture pockets of territory.
  • The two places where Christians suffer the most violence are Nigeria (12) and Pakistan (5).

The World Watch List explained

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.

Helpful Resources

Our 2019 World Watch List resources are pretty awesome - we have a new devotional guide, World Watch Map, plus a special session for a youth group to work though (make sure you grab the associated downloads too). If you're in the UK you can order all of these items in the post for free (except the downloads folder) at

Guts and Courage 2019...
Download now...
Open Doors Youth 2019 World Watch List Map...
Download now...
World Watch List 2019 Youth Session: Leader Guide...
Download now...
World Watch List 2019 Youth Session: Downloads (All in one zip file)...
Download now...
World WatchList 2019: Top 50 Flags and Prayer Cards...
Download now...
The Problem


This East African country is No. 3 on the current World Watch List...

Help solve the problem

Give a Bible or send a relief pack to help Christians facing persecution now!

How you can help

Want to help? Brilliant. There’s loads of ways to get involved and support your persecuted family around the world.

First off, pray. Brother Andrew, the guy who started Open Doors, said “Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.” So, spend time praying regularly for the church in parts of the world where following Jesus is restricted.
Get the latest prayer news…

Secondly, tell other people about the injustices facing Christians around the world. It’s vital that the church in the West comes to know and understand what is happening… You could tell people simply by sharing our posts or getting involved and running an event or switching on to one of our campaigns… it’s up to you…

Thirdly, you can give. Just £10 will bring hope by providing a Bible to a young Christian at risk of being persecuted for following Jesus.

Read and share our news…
Find out what you can do…
Send a gift of hope

The Problem

Afiniki's story

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The Problem

Pasha's story

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The Problem

Jong-Cheol's story

Jong-Cheol was an 11 year old North Korean boy who lived on the streets...
The Problem

Sofia's story

Sofia is from Colombia. When she was 9 her Mum and Dad were killed by rebels...
The Problem

Yohannes' story

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The Problem

Fatima's story

I am unto death a Christian. Fatima's story is amazing and shocking...

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.