International (MNN) — It’s a dangerous time to be a Christian. Open Doors USA just released its 2016 World Watch List, which shows violent persecution is on the rise–again.
“Every year for the last three years you’re seeing nearly double the number of martyrs for their faith. So, that tells us that these trends are very dangerous, that they’re consistent,” says Open Doors CEO and President, David Curry.
Produced by Open Doors for two decades, the annual World Watch List shows the world’s biggest hot-spots of Christian persecution. While there are many trends to note, a few stand out more than others.
Of the 50 nations profiled on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List, more than half ranked higher than last year. This higher rank reflects increased persecution in one or more of five key spheres: private life, family life, community life, national life, and church life.
“It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all, and so you may find very low levels of violence as a result since incidents of persecution often result from acts of witness,” explains Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Director of Research at Open Doors International.
Tajikistan and Azerbaijan were some of the most “dramatic” risers, increasing 14 and 12 spots, respectively. According to Open Doors, governmental pressure is behind the rise in both countries.
As noted here by Open Doors, Islamic extremist self-styled caliphates have expanded their spheres of operation across international borders.
“The martyrdom of Christians and the direct, targeted attack [against] Christians has escalated in a way that I don’t think anyone could’ve seen,” says Curry.
Muslims throughout the world are becoming radicalized out of fear that extremists may take over their areas, and even entire governments are responding in fear.
Open Doors researchers say officials typically react by either (a) boosting nationalism as a counter-force, or (b) tightening regulations and increasing surveillance over ALL religious expression.
The silver lining
In the midst of all these worrying developments, there is some good news. Christ’s message of salvation is still being proclaimed by faithful believers. Furthermore, there are at least three ways you can take action and do something about persecution.
Use the 2016 World Watch List to fuel your prayers. Ask the Lord to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. By clicking here, you can download this month’s prayer points.
Open Doors USA uses donations to strengthen and equip persecuted believers in three ways:
- Bible & Gospel Development — equipping Christians with a Bible or other Christian resources.
- Women & Children Advancement — providing life-changing programs such as safe houses and literacy training.
- Christian Community Restoration — giving help to rebuild or socioeconomic relief to refugees.
There are a variety of opportunities for individuals and organized teams from churches to come face-to-face with Christians living under persecution.
Please prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to “go” with Open Doors USA. If He is, then click here to download the Open Doors 2016 Trip List. See places He may want you to visit and people He may want you to meet.