The Problem

100 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus


All across the world Christians are living in horrifically hostile places. They are beaten, abused, tortured, victimised and accused just because of their faith. They have no voice. We don’t always hear their stories. They are hidden. Forgotten. Ignored.

For us in the West, church is very different. We don’t gather in secret. We don’t fear that our attendance at a worship night might put us on a government blacklist. We can openly talk about God and meet with others.

But our relationship with Jesus connects us to secret believers around the world. We share the same heartbeat. Together, we are the God’s Church. Brothers and sisters – part of the same body, all seeking to show the love we’ve received to the world around us. And when one part of the body suffers, we all do.

2016 World Watch List

The World Watch List ranks the 50 countries where persecution against Christians is most severe. The list reports that persecution became more intense in more parts of the world in 2015. While North Korea remains the most difficult place in the world to be a Christian, persecution is growing most rapidly in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. In the Middle East, Islamic State violence in Iraq and Syria has increased the pace of the exodus of the Christian population from the region and is also having a global impact.

The map here lists all 50 countries, but you can find out some more specific details about the top ten on the list below. Have a look and join us in prayer for followers of Jesus who are facing extreme persecution.

Country Profiles

Persecution Level:

  Extreme:Severe   Very High:Absolute   High:Moderate


Free resource

World Watch List 2016: The top five

The Problem

North Korea

For the 14th year running North Korea is officially the worst place in the world to be a Christian...
The Problem

The year of the refugee

People all over the world are leaving their homes due to war, terror and instability...

World Watch List 2016: Key facts

Get to grips with some of the basic facts we can learn from this year’s World Watch List…

  • The persecution of Christians has increased… across every region in which Open Doors works.
  • Religious extremism – Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist – is the greatest source of persecution of Christians.
  • North Korea is still the most difficult place in the world to be a Christian.
  • As well as in the Middle East, Islamic extremism has a second and powerfully destructive hub in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Islamic State (IS) violence is radicalising Muslims and therefore increasing pressure on Christians in many countries.
  • Conflict and failed nation states result in increased levels of persecution.
  • According to the UN, a record 60 million people have been displaced. A great number of these are Christians, especially in places like Syria, Iraq and Nigeria, where anti-Christian violence has driven hundreds of thousands of Christians from their homes.
  • Gender violence is a weapon of persecution: women and girls are on the frontline.
  • Open Doors records show that worldwide there were well over 7,000 Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the reporting period. That is a rise of almost 3,000 in comparison to conservative figures from the WWL 2015 period. This is excluding North Korea, Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist.
  • Around 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged, which is over double the number for the previous year.
  • In six countries the level of persecution increased seriously (by 7 points or more): Eritrea, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Kuwait.
  • In nine countries the level of persecution increased significantly (by 5 to 6 points): India, Ethiopia, UAE, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Yemen, Kenya, Indonesia and Niger.

The World Watch List explained

The World Watch List (WWL) is an independently audited ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is worst. The list covers persecution of Christians of all denominations in that entire country. The focus is on persecution for faith, not persecution for political, economic, social, ethnic or accidental reasons.

Open Doors has been monitoring persecution of Christians worldwide since the 1970s and today, the World Watch List provides a comprehensive snapshot of the problem facing many followers of Jesus across the world.

Most importantly though, the list isn’t simply an academic exercise. Behind the stats and figures lie the fate of over 100 million members of our worldwide Church family, an essential tool in helping us pray and act for change.

Helpful Resources

Things to help you grasp the extent of persecution facing Christians today...

World Watch Youth Session (and downloads)
Download now...
Faces of Persecution video (as part of World Watch Session)
Download now...
'And When You Pray' World Watch List Top 10 Prayer Resource
Download now...
2016 World Watch Map
Download now...
The Problem

Faces behind the figures

Meet six persecuted Christians from around the world who really need your prayers and support...

Help solve the problem

Give a Bible or send a relief pack to help Christians facing persecution now!

How you can help

Want to help? Brilliant. There’s loads of ways to get involved and support your persecuted family around the world.

First off, pray. Brother Andrew, the guy who started Open Doors, said “Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.” So, spend time praying regularly for the church in parts of the world where following Jesus is restricted.
Get the latest prayer news…

Secondly, tell other people about the injustices facing Christians around the world. It’s vital that the church in the West comes to know and understand what is happening… You could tell people simply by sharing our posts or getting involved and running an event or switching on to one of our campaigns… it’s up to you…

Thirdly, you can give. Just £10 will bring hope by providing a Bible to a young Christian at risk of being persecuted for following Jesus.

Read and share our news…
Find out what you can do…
Send a gift of hope

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We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.