A US group, Open Doors USA has listed Nigeria as one of the top 50 countries in the world where persecution of Christians is still ‘’extreme’’. This fact is contained in the group’s World Watch List 2021.
Open Doors USA, a community of Christians, says more than 340 million Christians around the world are living in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus.
That implies one in eight believers, worldwide.
Other countries listed with ‘’extreme persecution’’ are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, and India.
Countries with ‘’very high persecution’’ according to the US group are Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Egypt, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Laos, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, and Qatar.
Others include, Colombia, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Tajikistan, Nepal, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mexico, Jordan, Brunei, Dem. Rep. of the Congo, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, Bhutan, Oman, Mozambique, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kenya, and Comoros.
On Nigeria, the group says violent attacks from Islamic extremist groups (Boko Haram, HausaFulani Muslim militant herdsmen, ISIS affiliate ISWAP) are common in the North and Middle Belt of Nigeria—and they are becoming more common farther South.
‘’Militants often murder Christians or destroy their property and means of livelihood. Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed.
‘’The women and children they leave behind are often displaced to informal camps, face sexual violence, and are even at risk of abduction and forced marriage’’, the group said.
Chairman/CEO of Open Doors USA, David Curry, says the World Watch List is the foremost report of its kind—a document, updated every year, of how many followers of Jesus are targeted, discriminated against, persecuted and attacked for their faith.
According to him, ‘’you might think the World Watch List is all about oppression. And, to some extent, it is. More than 340 million of our Christian brothers and sisters live in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.
‘’That’s 1 in 8 Christians, worldwide. But the World Watch List is really all about resilience. The numbers of God’s people who are suffering should mean the Church is dying—that Christians are keeping quiet, losing their faith and turning away from one another.
‘’But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, in living color, we see the words of God recorded in the prophet Isaiah: “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19, ESV) When our sisters and brothers are persecuted for their faith, and they still choose Jesus, the Living Water—this is a miracle in front of our eyes.
‘’As you read through the 2021 World Watch List, keep that perspective in mind. The facts and figures will tell you about the problem—but the resilience of God’s people will inspire you to see what God is doing in our midst.’’
PRAYER POINTS FOR CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA
• Pray for the Lord’s grace and comfort for believers who are displaced, have lost loved ones and their homes, and are struggling with trauma.
• Ask the Lord to be near to abducted believers. Pray for their release or rescue.
• Pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and his government— pray they will take decisive actions to protect all citizens.
• Pray that Open Doors partners will strengthen the church to testify and share the gospel in very difficult circumstances.
Open Doors is however, supporting persecuted believers in more than 60 countries. In US, it is a 501c3, non-profit organisation with more than 60 years of experience and a long track record of financial integrity.
The numbers are astonishing. But behind each number and statistic, there is a human story. The 2021 World Watch List is about these stories behind the numbers.
Each year, the World Watch List provides an unparalleled glimpse into the 50 places around the world where it costs the most to be a Christian.
As you read this, please, consider the words of 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part [of the Body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it.” Pray through this year’s report and let it move your heart.
Learn how the Body of Christ is hurting, and how they are finding joy in Him even in the midst of pain. And learn how, in Jesus, we really are one Church, one Family.