New Report 'Wake-Up Call' on Christian Persecution
Although you don't hear much about Christian persecution in the major media, believers around the world suffer growing threats for their faith in Jesus Christ.
According to the new World Watch List from Open Doors International, North Korea remained the world's top persecutor of Christians in 2013. It's the twelfth year the North Korean regime has held that infamous position.
"There's massive persecution and inhumanity for anybody who dares to call themselves a follower of Jesus," Open Doors President David Curry said.
The CIA estimates that some 24 million people live in the communist country. The best guess is about 2 percent, or 480,000, are Christians.
"They have, we believe, 50,000 Christians in concentration camps in the country of North Korea at a minimum," Curry said.
While communist North Korea is the worst, nine of the top ten offenders - Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen - have large Islamic majorities.
"In 36 of the top 50 countries on our World Watch List Islamic extremism is the main driver of persecution," Curry said. "It is very dangerous to be a Christian in a country where Islamic extremism is prevalent."
Conflicts raging across the Middle East, especially in places like Syria, are only making life more challenging for believers. Curry said there's a correlation between so-called failed states like Syria and levels of Christian persecution.
"It's not just the fact that some governments are corrupt and oppressive to Christianity," he noted. "But in many of these countries they have failed states where the government is not strong enough or chooses not to defend soft targets of churches and Christian developments where Christians might gather."
Meanwhile, Open Doors says those murdered for their faith has almost doubled in the last year. The majority of Christians were killed in Syria.
The ministry is urging Christians to pray for persecuted believers worldwide.
"We believe that the World Watch List is a wakeup call for the Christian Church to our culture to what is going on to Christians around the world that we are being persecuted, we are being imprisoned and in some cases martyred for our faith," Curry said.