WITNEY, ENGLAND — Afghanistan is now the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, according to figures released today in the 2022 World Watch List (WWL).
Afghanistan replaces North Korea at the top of the list after 20 years – this despite persecution also rising there this year.
The WWL, which records levels of persecution and discrimination across the globe*, found that over 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith – a rise of 20 million from last year.
The number represents one in seven Christians worldwide. This year records the highest levels of persecution since the first List was published 29 years ago, and in recent years has plotted a steady increase.
This video highlights the top 10 countries on Open Doors World Watch List 2022.
There are countries where Christians live in fear, where churches are bombed and houses burned, where following Jesus means sacrificing jobs, security, family.
There are countries where you must keep your faith secret or it might get you killed. These are the countries of the Open Doors World Watch List and here are the top countries where following Jesus costs the most.
- Number 9 Iran.
Iranian Christians must meet secretly. Being discovered could mean long sentences in appalling prisons.
- Number 8 Pakistan.
Christians in Pakistan are considered second-class citizens. Innocent believers are falsely accused of blasphemy. Thousands of women are victims of kidnap and forced conversion.
- Number 7 Nigeria.
Nigeria is the country where Christians face the most outright violence. Many Christians have been killed or driven from their homes.
- Number 6 Eritrea.
More than 1,000 Christians are imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea. Some pastors have been locked up for over a decade without charge.
- Number 5 Yemen.
Yemeni culture is tribal. Those who leave the tribal faith could be banished or even killed.
- Number 4 Libya.
In this lawless land, Libyan Christians have to keep their faith secret or risk punishment, arrest or death.
- Number 3 Somalia.
Islamist extremists consider Somali Christians high-value targets. So the tiny population of only a few hundred secret believers keep out of sight.
- Number 2 North Korea.
There are around 400,000 Christians in North Korea. All of them must hide their faith. Discovery means exile, execution or being worked to death in horrific labour camps.
- Number 1 Afghanistan.
The Taliban take-over means that Afghanistan is the new number one: the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. Many Christians have become refugees. Those who remain must keep their faith utterly secret.
There are countries where Christians live in fear. But fear can lead to courage and courage leads to hope. At least 360 million Christians around the world experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. But they have not given up and for over 65 years Open Doors has stood with them.
Where Christians are persecuted our global underground networks supply smuggled Bibles and Christians books, spiritual care, emergency food and aid, training and legal advice.
Where Christians are free we work with local churches to raise our voices in prayer, to speak truth to those in power, to strengthen our persecuted family around the world. Because there are countries where Christians have to stay silent and there are countries where Christians can make a noise. But we are all connected, we are all family and together we can all help one another to follow Jesus no matter the cost.
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors UK has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.