Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Open Doors, Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide, released their yearly report at the beginning of this past year. They identified the top 50 countries where Christians face the worst persecution: Open Doors: Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide: Countries
The top 10 countries where Christians face persecution are the following:
Open Doors also noted that although 2014 marked the height of persecution of Christians thus far in the modern day, it appears that it will get worse: “Persecution of Christians Reaches Historic Levels, Conditions Suggest Worst Is Yet To Come”
While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era, current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come. . . . Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries on the 2015 World Watch List. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith.
Note well: Christians are “one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world,” with “Islamic extremism” being “the main source of persecution” in most of the countries.
Here is how Open Doors define persecution and identify its effect.
Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. Recent examples include imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, and loss of home and assets.
While violent persecution is most often reported by media, nonviolent persecution is also on the rise. Violence has increased dramatically in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, but Christians in other countries are experiencing persecution in their personal lives through family, community and national spheres of life. Christians are often ostracized by family exclusion, the loss of a job or even rejection from a community.
It is more the norm than not that Christians are persecuted around the world. We in the West are not facing what the majority of our brothers and sisters are in other parts of the world. This is not to say we are not facing persecution. We are, and it is to be expected (Matt. 5:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:12). However, one must be quick to qualify that since none of us here are at the point of facing death (cf. Heb. 12:4). There is a spectrum of persecution.
How are we suffering with our brothers and sisters where they are literally shedding their blood because of their Christian faith? How do we prepare for the persecution that will increase and intensify in the days to come?
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:32-39