Being a follower of Jesus can be hard … but in these countries, it might get you killed.
Do you ever feel sick of being different? That being teased or excluded because of your faith maybe isn’t worth it?
Being a Christian is hard wherever you are. The Bible actually promises that anyone who is trying to live God’s way will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Hostility to God’s people can be discouraging, but the Bible tells us we should expect it if we are trying to live God’s way.
When we look around the world, we can certainly see that expectation being met. Open Doors World Watch has recently ranked countries based on where it’s hardest to be a Christian.
The list shows that violence against Christians has increased fastest in Asian countries, with India, Vietnam, Laos and Bangladesh showing the highest increase in persecution of Christian minorities.
5 Worst Countries to be a Christian
- North Korea
Why are Christians being persecuted?
Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia, says that lots of the persecution stems from dominant religious groups rejecting Christianity. For example, Mike says that in India (15th on the list), Hinduism has always been important, but the current government has started to use this “to the point of violently rejecting all other religions”.
North Korea has been ranked the country with the worst persecution for the 16th year in a row, and not surprisingly, 68% of the top 50 countries listed Islamic Oppression as a reason for the persecution.
Why doesn’t God stop persecution?
Looking at these facts, it can feel like God doesn’t know about persecution, or he doesn’t care about it.
But despite these statistics, Mike Gore reminds us that God is still in control.
“It is important when considering these facts to not lose sight of God’s sovereignty,” says Mike Gore. “It can be tempting for us to read stories of persecution and become angry or discouraged. The greater challenge is to continue following Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute (Matt 5:44).”
Open Doors works to strengthen persecuted Christians in over 60 countries around the world.
In one instance, they worked with a Syrian orthodox priest to release 220 Christians. The priest says he was inspired by the way God worked to save his people in the Bible: “I just got fed up hearing of (the) killings and fleeings. It was time to break the mould, and do something daring like Jonathan, the son of Saul, and go into the camp of the Philistines.”
What can young Christians do to support the persecuted church?
For us, when we see persecution in our own lives or hear about it overseas, it’s important to remember that God is in control.
Jesus lived, died and rose again, and his resurrection promises that the hardship will not last forever. One day all Christians will be with God in a place where there will be “no death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).