Open Doors USA has released its annual World Watch list identifying the top 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus Christ.
North Korea takes the number one spot again for the 18th straight year as the worst place in the world for believers.
In a majority of the top 50 countries, Islamic extremism plays a huge role in the levels of persecution. It certainly fueled the persecution among most of the other countries that round out the top 10: Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran and India.
According to Open Doors, an average of eight Christians were killed for their faith every day last year. On top of that, 23 Christians were raped or sexually harassed in faith-related violence each day.
And on any given week, a shocking 182 churches or church buildings were attacked and 276 Christian homes burned or destroyed.
Open Doors says one in eight Christians worldwide live in places where they endure high levels of persecution for simply believing in Jesus Christ.
Even as President Trump signed phase one of a new trade deal with China Wednesday, Dr. David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, singled out China’s “unparalleled human rights crimes against Christians” and accused Beijing of “seeking to wipe religious sentiment from its country.”
In fact, China’s communist regime has ramped up its targeting of Christians so much that the country jumped from number 43 in 2018 to 23 in this new report.
Dr. Curry says 260 million Christians were affected by extreme levels of persecution last year. That’s up from 245 million the year before.
CBN News Senior International Correspondent George Thomas has been covering the plight of Christians around the world for years. He says the situation for China’s Christians is dire, noting his surprise that China wasn’t listed in the top 10.
And Open Doors says the government has even deployed an extensive surveillance mechanism to watch Christians.
“China is building what I think is a blueprint, a road map of persecution for other regimes around the world,” Curry said. “And they’re doing it with surveillance with a social score that measures Christian behavior, attending church, taking your children to Sunday school, as a negative thing.”
“And they’re taking that social score and melding it with surveillance, not just on the street to protect citizens, but an invasive surveillance inside the churches. And they’re shutting down house churches that won’t comply and others as well, arresting pastors that won’t play along with their surveillance system,” he explained.