In some parts of the world, being a Christian could cost you your friends or your popularity. In other places, following Jesus could cost you your life.
Each year, Open Doors releases the World Watch List, a report that ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. Christians who live in these countries face harassment, assault, imprisonment, or even death for their faith.
North Korea has taken the No. 1 spot on the World Watch List for a number of years because believers are at immediate risk of being arrested or killed. In 2022, however, Afghanistan topped the list for the first time after the Taliban took control of the government, creating extreme Christian persecution in all spheres of public and private life.
According to the 2022 World Watch List:
- More than 360 million Christians lived in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.
- 5,898 Christians were killed for their faith.
- 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked.
One of the best and fastest ways to help these brothers and sisters in Christ is to lift them up in prayer. Prayer helps sustain them, encourages them, and lets them know that they are surrounded by the arms of the Father.
Here are the top five countries on the 2022 World Watch List and ways to pray for believers there.
Believers cannot openly live out their faith. Those discovered to be Christians could be disowned by their families, forcibly sent to a psychiatric hospital, or killed. Many believers must flee the country to save their lives.
Here’s how you can pray for believers in Afghanistan:
- Pray that secret believers would be protected from violence from the Taliban.
- Pray that God would change the hearts of Taliban leaders to follow Him.
- Pray for healing and comfort for Afghans who have fled the country.
- Pray that believers still in the country would find fellowship to help them endure the hardships.
If North Korean Christians are not imprisoned, they are often tortured or killed in this agnostic nation. Even families of believers will also be punished.
Here’s how you can pray for believers in North Korea:
- Pray for protection for believers who worship in secret.
- Pray for comfort for believers in prison and the families of believers who have been arrested or killed.
- Pray for the hearts of the North Korean regime leaders to change.
- Pray for provision for North Koreans as they face famine and deal with the pandemic.
Somalia is a haven for Islamic militants, and Christians are viewed as high-value targets. Muslims who convert to Christianity often face harassment, intimidation, or murder.
Here’s how you can pray for believers in Somalia:
- Pray for peace in Somalia as the country faces attacks and violence from Islamic extremists.
- Pray for endurance for Christians living in this Muslim nation.
- Pray that al-Shabab fighters would come to know and follow Jesus.
- Pray for protection for Christians who are hiding their faith.
Muslim background believers in Libya face immense pressure from their families to renounce their faith. Their communities ostracize them, which can leave them jobless and homeless. Christians constantly risk kidnappings and execution.
Here’s how you can pray for believers in Libya:
- Pray that Christians, including migrant workers and foreign believers, would be protected from harm.
- Pray that believers would find community, even if they can’t attend a physical church.
- Pray that God would change the hearts of militants who persecute Christians.
- Pray for stability in Libya’s government.
Christians in Yemen face arrest, banishment, or death. Believers who are married to a Muslim may face divorce and lose custody of their children. Muslim leaders have been known to discriminate against Christians and not provide them with humanitarian aid.
Here’s how you can pray for believers in Yemen:
- Pray for peace and comfort for Christians in this war-torn nation.
- Pray that believers would be bold in sharing their faith with others.
- Pray that those who are seeking truth would find God through satellite, TV, dreams, or other means.
- Pray that Christians in Yemen would draw closer to God every day.
Prayer is a powerful tool. Use it to strengthen persecuted Christ-followers around the world.
East-West exists to glorify God by multiplying followers of Jesus in the world’s spiritually darkest places. The ministry’s work involves mobilizing the Body of Christ to evangelize the lost and equip local believers to multiply disciples and churches among the unreached. Learn more at www.eastwest.org.