What Persecution Is, and Isn’t, and How to Respond to Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List

Our misuse of 'persecution' disrespects believers for whom any public reference of their faith could mean death.


Having just come out of the holiday season, many of you will likely remember recent rhetoric surrounding a certain conflict—one that some have called the “war on Christmas.” For those of you who aren’t aware or haven’t heard the news, some Christians felt they could not wish others “Merry Christmas” or were feeling disrespected when some would wish them “Happy holidays” instead of their preferred “Merry Christmas.”

Perhaps for perspective we should instead read Open Door’s 2018 World Watch List.

Just this past Wednesday, the organization released their annual report, which ranks the 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Among the worst of the worst were North Korea and Afghanistan, which claimed the first and second spots, respectively.

According to the list, the two were nearly tied. Pakistan scored highest in terms of incidents of church or church building attacks, abductions, and forced marriages. The rise of intense persecution in central Asian countries, as well as Hindu and Buddhist nationalism in other parts of the continent, were also noted by the report.

But we mustn’t overlook another important facet of the report—one that gives us a picture of the kinds of persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ experience on a day-to-day basis: during this most recent reporting period, Open Doors found that 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, 1,020 raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches attacked because of their expressed faith in Christ.

Persecution isn’t something we just read about in history books. It’s unfortunately alive and well—a tragic, yet very real, occurrence for many Christians ...

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