Christians around the world
According to David Alton (campaigner on religious freedom), “some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution”. That is about one in 10 of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world. “Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom,” Alton said. Persecution ranged from murder, rape and torture to repressive laws, discrimination and social exclusion.
Christians face harassment in 102 countries – more than any other religion.
The 2014 report on religious freedom in the world by ACN said conditions had deteriorated in 55 countries, and significantly so in six countries: Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria. Although Muslims “also face terrible and systematic persecution … and Jewish communities have also suffered increased threats and violence”, Christians were by far the most persecuted faith group, the report said. (Source: Guardian Newspaper — 28 July 2015)
We take our situation for granted in the west — we can practice our Christian belief openly, we can attend church, we can build churches and schools, we can openly talk about christianity (and even though we might be laughed at, at least we are not put into prison and certainly not killed). We can own a bible and we can purchase them from any bookstore and we can give bibles as gifts. We do not need to talk in whispers, we do not need to be afraid — but many Christians do and for them, God's Word is even more precious, because it is a matter of life or death.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:16)
We need to remember how blessed we truly are and not take it for granted. What can Christians do to help those who are suffering. We can pray and we all know the power of prayer — the list below is from an article by Evangeline Vergo. (source)
* Pray that persecuted believers can have access to a Bible.
* Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
* Pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian "family" who will loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
* Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
* Pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live (particular the refugees at this precent time flooding out of Syria and Iran).
To give you an idea of the extend of Christian suffering, the Guardian newspaper put together the seven countries you would not want to be a Christian at present (interestedly, they didn't include China).
Christians in North Korea must worship the nation's leader, and belonging to another religion makes you an enemy of the state. Thousands of Christians are held in North Korean prison camps, and many have reportedly been tortured and executed. Believers who meet secretly risk arrest and death.
Population: 11.2 million
The Islamist group al-Shabaab has publicly stated that it wants to rid Somalia of all Christians, and suspected believers are likely to be killed on the spot. Christians who risk meeting do so in secret and they cannot own Bibles.
Population: 36 million
As Islamic State has taken control of large parts of the country, Christians and other minorities have been forced to convert, pay a punitive tax or be killed. An estimated 100,000 people fled their homes in Mosul, the largely Christian region in northern Iraq, as Isis advanced on the region in late 2014. There have been public killings of Christians by Isis, some of them recorded and broadcast for propaganda purposes, and most churches have been demolished.
Population: 22.4 million
Christian: 1.1 million
An estimated 700,000 Christians have fled Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. Parts of the country have been claimed by Isis. Christians are often abducted and killed.
Population: 32.2 million
Christians must keep their faith secret or risk being rejected by their families, or even killed. The only churches are secret. While Afghan Christians are at greatest risk, foreigners are also in danger. In 2014, several Christian aid workers were killed.
Population: 39.8 million
Converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by death. Sudan also has blasphemy laws under which many Christians have been imprisoned. There are reports that the government has attacked Christians with targeted bombings, and turned a blind eye to the killings of Christians by others.
Population: 184.7 million
Christian: 89 million
Since Boko Haram came to prominence, thousands of Christians have been abducted or killed. Thousands more have also been killed by Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen. In the north of the country, Christians are treated as second-class citizens, and there are reports of them being denied access to schools and of Christian villages being denied clean water and access to healthcare.
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved.