The Problem

One in every seven Christians face persecution and discrimination simply for following Jesus

At least 360 million Christians are facing persecution and discrimination – that’s one in every seven Christians on the planet. Yet, they choose to follow Jesus despite the fear of arrest, prison, rejection, threats and violence.

Across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, millions of Christians live with the reality of persecution, simply because they choose to shine God’s love and light. But, despite being singled out and targeted, many are bravely still trying to shine God’s light.

This matters. Our relationship with Jesus connects us to these millions of 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.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1: 5

The map on this page is about Jesus’ incredible light. It lists the places where faith in Jesus really costs; places where being known as a Christian could mean being cut off from family, shunned by community, facing an unjust prison sentence or being on the end of violent attacks. Use the map to guide your prayers and see where your support is urgently needed.

World Watch List 2022

The Open Doors World Watch List 2022 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 countries at the posts 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

The Problem

Afghanistan

The harshest place in the world to live as a Christian. Believers are actively being targeted by The Taliban...
The Problem

North Korea

Where up to 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in terrible labour or prison camps...

World Watch List 2022: Overview

At least 360 million Christians around the world experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. That’s an astonishing 1 in 7 of the global Christian population.

Persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels since the World Watch List began nearly 30 years ago. For much of that time North Korea has been the most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian. This year it recorded its highest ever score – yet it dropped to number two. Because right now, nowhere in the world is more dangerous for Christians than Afghanistan.

Key things to know…

  • The Taliban has taken control in Afghanistan – boosting the morale of extremists everywhere
  • The global church is increasingly a refugee church – due to violence and attacks, millions of Christians have fled homes in countries from Nigeria to Afghanistan. Many Christians are displaced, living without permanent jobs and homes, making them even more vulnerable
  • China is increasing centralised control of religion, restricting access to Christians materials and locking down the internet. Other nations are following their example.
  • The church continues to be hit by COVID – allowing governments and gangs to exploit it for their own ends. In some regions in China, churches that closed due to Covid were denied permission to reopen. In Vietnam churches were blamed for outbreaks – one church was even prosecuted

Any good signs?

This might seem bleak, but we know that ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)

Those seeking to restrict and remove the Church haven’t succeeded. They cannot succeed. Despite threats, terror, limits, rules, violence and more, the church is growing.

It is happening almost unnoticed, under-the-radar, as tiny as a mustard seed. Lives are changed in the unlikeliest of places. In the toilet blocks of North Korean labour camps, or behind closed doors in Somali houses; disguised as chats over coffee in North African cafés, or in remote villages off Central Asian passes – wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name the secret kingdom is living, vibrant and powerful.

It doesn’t look like power. Not as the world understands it. But it is a kingdom that cannot – will not – be destroyed.

All around the world Christ is building His church, and nothing will prevail against it.

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 300 million members of our worldwide Church family. It’s an essential tool in helping us pray and act for change.

Helpful Resources

Our 2022 World Watch List resources are pretty awesome - we have a new World Watch Map, plus a special session for a youth group to work though. If you're in the UK you can order a glow in the dark map and tattoo in the post for free too at opendoorsyouth.org/guts

Downloadable Open Doors Youth World Watch List 2022 Map...
Download now...
Downloadable World Watch List 2022 Youth Session outline (coming Feb 2022)...
Download now...
The Problem

Somalia

This East African country is No. 3 on the current World Watch List...
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We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.