World watch list: 50 Countries Where It is Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus

by Church Times

Persecution: World watch list: 50 Countries Where It is Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus


world watch list 2019


Publisher: Open Doors, USA

Pagination: 68 pages

Reviewer: Moses Oludele Idowu


Every year the Open Doors of USA releases global rankings based on expert studies and field work on the level of religious freedom and especially, the prevalent persecution against Christians in various nations. Usually the worst 50 nations ranked in the order of severity make the list of the World Watch List.

The Open Doors is respected globally because of the seriousness, honesty and thoroughness with which it approach this issue.

As usual the world eagerly waits for its Release annually which is usually done at the beginning of every year.

The World Watch List is the initiative of Open Doors, an organization founded by a most remarkable man called Brother Andrew – one of the most daring and bravest souls that Christianity ever produced.




Many years ago, during my final year in university, a friend gave me a book to read – with a foreboding title, GOD’S SMUGGLER. Usually engineering students rarely read novels due to the rigour of the course and the discipline of study. That book must be very important for an engineering student to put aside time to read it. But I read that book and the investment of time was compensated by the richness of the book, which I may review here some day.

Brother Andrew was the man who founded and led teams of Christians and brave souls using various strategies that he did not disclose until much later in another book, to smuggle Bibles into the Communist countries during the days of Communism.

 Their biggest victory is the Operation Rainbow – the massive breathtaking and daring operation involving Christian professionals, former CIA Christian employees and intelligence officers, soldiers, sailors etc where 1,000,000 Bibles in a single operation were smuggled into China to be distributed among Christians, beating all Chinese officials, security network, navy, coast guard etc. It was the most risky and daring operation ever, backed by a 2- year of continuous intercession and prayers and it was an all- round success.

   I will one day discuss this massive operation here to teach Christians some lessons. So many times we are waiting for God and God too is waiting for us.

  Brother Andrew has since gone to be with the Lord but his work continues.




Today Open Doors supports persecuted Christians in over 60 countries and it is involved in other areas like discipleship training, vocational instruction, trauma counseling etc.

   It’s global Rankings, the World Watch List, is an annual event on the global persecution of Christians, “ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith.” Each nation is ranked by the severity of persecution existing in the nation, the amount of violence and pressure mounted on Christians in various departments of life.

  Open Doors employ a sound methodology that is transparent, fair and balanced. Its study takes three factors into consideration:

– level of violent persecution

– pressure experienced in 5 spheres of life such as Church life, National life, Community life,  Family life and Private life.

– Amount of violent incidents against Christians and the Church.

These are the benchmarks used on each nation which is open for verification.


  World Watch List 2019


The Report of persecution around the world in 2019 is a sad one. It shows that persecution against Christianity is on upswing and it is time Christians must strategize to counter this. More on this later.

   Certain discernible trends are observable in the 2019 Report. Five trends, dangerous trends can be seen viz:


* persecution against women is increasing for the sake of Christianity.


* Islamic oppression in Muslim states is on the increase


* The rise of persecution in the two most populous nations, India and China. India is now 

on the top 10 while China is now 27 on the list, 13 points up from where it was in 2018 (43).


* Islam, radical Islam of the Wahabbi School is spreading in Sub Saharan Africa with Boko Haram and ISWAP leading the upsurge in violence.


* Increasing state legislation, stringent measures being put in place to control religion especially Christianity by state- based actors.


These are ominous signs, dangerous trends  for Christianity.

  If anything persecution is not relenting but increasing against the religion of Christ. Globally. Christians are becoming an endangered species even though they are supposed to be the majority.

  Consider the statistics furnished by Open Doors (2019) if you are in doubt:


  – 1 in 9 Christians suffered for his/ her faith

–  4,136 became martyrs ( paid with their lives)

– 2,625 detained without trials, arrested, imprisoned

– 1,266 Churches were attacked.


All in all, more Christians are coming under persecution than before. In 2018, 215 million were under persecution, by 2019 it has become 245 million, an increase of about 12%. The 2020 List will be released in a few days time, who knows what the figure will be?




Which were the nations that made the list, the 50 most dangerous nations to be a Christian?

They are mostly Muslim nations, Muslim- majority nations and Communist nations. All the Muslim nations made the list yet Muslims tell us Jesus is one of their prophets and Islam is a religion of peace and there is no compulsion in religion… and all those balderdash, rhetorics of nonsense, that has no bearing on reality. If you believe all that, you at not a smart fellow because you will believe anything.

 North Korea made the number 1 list, that communist nation that has made the worship of any god a capital offense except the leader, one human disaster called Kim Sung.

  All the remaining 8 nations of the top 10 are Muslim nations – Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iran etc. India with its Hinduistic influences that has produced more poverty than prosperity (sorry, Nigeria took over from India under Buhari) made the number 10. 




Nigeria made the list on the World Watch List showing that persecution is also rife against Christianity especially in the Northern Nigeria. Nigeria made the 12th position in the List, 2 points ahead of last year 2018 (14), which shows that under this Buhari regime, religious persecution of Christians has not lessened but worsened. Nigeria recorded the highest percentage point (99.9%) in terms of violence against Christians ostensibly due to the violence being waged by Islamists in Northern Nigeria. Just on Christmas Eve these evil beasts slaughtered 10 Christians and posted the pictures on video. Just few days ago they kidnapped 4 soldiers and two policemen and even attacked Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe. And all our government does is to condemn, and offer condolences. They refused to re-energize the men fighting this war. Even our army, we are told based on reports, uses outdated weapons despite the fact that $1billion was taken from Excess Crude Account to purchase weapons.

   I will be glad to see what place Nigeria will have in the World Watch List 2020.




It is unlikely that persecution will lessen around the world. If anything it might get worse. Next month we shall consider the 2020 Report when released to compare.

   Why is Christianity the most persecuted religion? Why is persecution increasing all round the world?

  First, Christians are called to suffer for their Faith. “In the world ye shall have tribulations… “. By this alone does not explain the issue.

   Christian makes moral claims which angers and incenses most people, especially rationalists and free thinkers. It does not claim to just be the best, it claims to be the “only way to God” – this annoys many people. Thus, for instance there is an alliance between communism and its allied forces, liberals, media etc and Islam against Christianity.

   This persecution may increase and even become more subtle and grievous.

   What then should Christians do?

They should understand that the answer to anti- Christianism is more and vigorous Christianity. Not less. They should continue to bear witness to the Truth without any fear of consequences.

  Two, it is time Christians should begin to follow the counsel of Christ. ” Be wise as serpent and harmless as dove… “

  Christians are still behaving like sheep but with no wisdom of serpent.

  There should be a strategy too for Christians to ward off these enemy actions.

  Christians too should be active in government and not surrender public spaces to voices of Antichrist. If Christians are persecuted in Iran and Afghanistan where they are minorities that is understandable. However, what do you make of Kenya where Christians constitute almost 60% or Ethiopia where more than 50% or in the Russian Federation where Christians constitute more than 80% – yet still persecuted by Islam?,

   It shows most Christians are really ignorant. Turning the other cheek does not mean being foolish. How can 18% of the population persecute 80% of the population? If there will be war let there be. Perhaps the world will then fear Christianity. That is why you cannot toss overboard the history of the Crusaders against Islam.

  There is need for strategies to stop most of these persecutions. Some cannot be stopped, no doubt.

   In the meantime, everyone now must count the cost before deciding whether to follow Jesus. It is getting tougher to be a Christian.


© Moses Oludele Idowu (Jan 11, 2020)

  All Rights Reserved

(posted to Partners Forum of APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY NETWORK)

[Permission is granted to CHURCH TIMES, Christian newspaper, to publish this particular edition for the benefit of Christians]

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