Currents News Staff
Church arsons, assaults on priests and robberies of Eucharistic hosts are just some of the incidents against Christians that are happening at an alarming rate worldwide.
According to a report from the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe, hate crimes against Christians are up. Nearly 1,000 incidents were reported in Europe in 2020 – that’s compared to around 600 in 2019.
Each year, Open Doors, an organization which supports persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, compiles the World Watch List. It’s a list of the top 50 countries where Christians are most severely persecuted.
One of the most surprising findings of this year’s report is that the number of Christians killed for their faith is up by 60 percent compared to last year’s reporting period. This was mainly due to the increase of armed conflicts in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
On top of the list is North Korea. Christians living there are arrested and taken to work camps for possessing a bible or when caught praying. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned.
The rest of the top five countries are Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan. Open Doors’ director explains that Christians are asked to convert to the dominant religion or face death in these countries.
“More than surprising me, it pains me, it pains me very much because they are souls, they are people killed, they are widows, orphaned children, they are entire towns and villages displaced and sacked,” said Director Cristian Nani. “In short, there is a lot of pain around this crisis.”
The primary focus of Open Doors is to provide emergency relief, contextualized Christian material in minority languages, and community development in places where Christians are deprived of basic and spiritual needs.
“The main focus is to go to the places where there is the most hostility towards Christians and even more hostility to the Gospel,” Cristian said. “We take care of small, large, isolated, or even hidden Christian communities. The heart of Open Doors is this: to tell these Christians, you’re not alone, we come there to you and ask what you need, we don’t tell you what we think you need. This is the basis of the way we operate.”