Open Doors World Watch List 2022 Presentation in the European Parliament
On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, the Open Doors Christian Persecution Ranking was presented to members of the European Parliament. MEP Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) hosted this digital event, together with Miriam Lexmann (Slovakia), in order to gather attention and help to the suffering of Christians worldwide.
In the last thirty years, the Open Doors organization has published annually a World Watch List, which ranks countries by the severity of their persecution of Christians. The list shows the first 50 countries where Christians are most severely victimized, revealing the amplitude of hostility, violence, disregarding of fundamental rights and general persecution directed against 360 million Christians in countries mainly from Asia, Africa, Central, and South America.
The data gathered and interpreted by field researchers, academics or present in public documents shows a considerable increase in the anti-Christian persecutions in the last years. The last report mentions 5,898 Christians killed, 6,175 imprisoned, and 5,110 Churches attacked. All the 50 countries present in the World Watch List are now categorized under “Extreme Persecution” and “Very High Persecution” for the first time. The last category, “High Persecution” can no longer describe the intensity of anti-Christian measures in these countries. Besides this painful aspect, there are other worrying trends: Islamic extremism is spreading, sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the most anti-Christian violence, governments are using technology to survey and control population and incite discrimination and xenophobic manifestations. The latest development shows that the Covid pandemic has been covertly used against Christian churches: in Myanmar and Qatar, the churches are closed for an indefinite period of time, while in Vietnam, the virus outbreaks were blamed by state officials and citizens on the Christian gatherings.
To increase the understanding of these troubling circumstances and the empathy for the Christians suffering anonymously for their faith, some of the testimonies collected by Open Doors can be quoted. Bae, a pseudonym given to a North Korean Christian for reasons of security, gives her testimony on the Open Doors site: “Our suffering has not cursed our lives. No, it is for Heavenly Father’s blessing. It is a shortcut to Him. He knows our suffering and listens to our prayers; we thank Him for who He is.” An unnamed persecuted Christian from Libya has said: “I am a Christian in the deepest secrecy. Jesus is like oxygen; without oxygen you cannot breathe. If Jesus wasn’t in my life, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t live. It’s like I’ve been taken out of the bin and cleaned. No matter what happens in my life, I cannot leave Jesus.”
Image credit: opendoorsusa.org