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 risk everything, simply because they choose to believe. But, despite the risks, many are bravely still trying to shine God’s love.

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 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 2023

The Open Doors World Watch List 2023 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

North Korea

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


Pray for this East African country, currently No. 2 on the current World Watch List...

World Watch List 2023: Overview

In 2023 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.

Key things to know…

  • Each day, at least 15 Christians are killed for their faith in Jesus. Last year, 95% of all recorded killings were in sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority in Nigeria.
  • Last year, 2,110 churches were attacked.
  • Around 140,000 Christians were displaced from their home or country for faith-related reasons.
  • In 2022, 4,542 believers were detained and imprisoned without trial.


  • Islamic extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa are using extreme violence as they seek to make Africa the first Islamic continent.
  • China is looking to redefine human rights to focus on stability and security, meaning those, like Christians, who are seen as a threat to the government, face increasing pressures, restrictions and advanced technological surveillance.
  • Whether it’s Iranian police raiding house churches, dozens of Syrian churches damaged in attacks by Turkish forces or Christian Iraqi children facing bullying from teachers and classmates at school, Christians in the Middle East are still clinging to hope.
  • The region that has seen the sharpest increase in persecution is Latin America, with four Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua all rising up the list in 2023.

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)

There have been moves towards greater tolerance of religious freedom in several Gulf states, including Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

This is within a moderate Islamic framework that seeks to counter extremism and make their countries more hospitable for Christians. In such places – as well as in Egypt, where there is an increased focus on ‘national unity’ – hate speech against believers from historical and expatriate communities is often not tolerated, although radical elements still exist within their societies.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Qatar has seen a reduction in opposition towards Christians. This is largely due to no churches being closed in 2022, which may be linked to the FIFA World Cup and the spotlight it put on the country’s human rights record. That said, a significant number of churches closed during the pandemic have not been allowed to reopen.

The early church stood firm and took huge risks to carry the gospel to the places where they were scattered. Their extraordinary legacy lives on to this day – not only in the way they began spreading the gospel to all nations, but in their example of courageous faith that our persecuted family are seeking to follow today, regardless of the risks involved.

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 360 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

Downloadable Open Doors Youth World Watch List 2023 Map...
Download now...
Downloadable World Watch List 2023 Youth Session outline (coming Feb 2023)...
Download now...
The Problem


Evangelism is prohibited in Yemen, and local people who leave Islam may face the death penalty.

Help solve the problem

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

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