The 2019 World Watch List recently released from Open Doors USA is a stark illustration of just how critical the issue of Christian persecution is worldwide. Many may not know how the believers in these 50 countries suffer, but our ministry broadcasts Gospel programming in four of the countries on this year’s ranking.
“This means that listeners in half of the countries where The Tide ministry broadcasts Gospel programming over the airwaves experience serious persecution for their faith,” said The Tide Director Don Shenk. “Besides working diligently to break into the areas where Christians are shunned, ridiculed, attacked or worse, we must also pray fervently for our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. We are all the same body of one Church.”
The Tide ministry has been broadcasting Bible messages over the radio since 1946 and today operates in eight countries on three continents while sharing the Gospel in 25 languages. Four of these nations made the 2019 World Watch List for high levels of Christian persecution.
- India—No. 10 on the World Watch List (up from No. 11 in 2018)—Shenk says from their interactions with both listeners and pastors on the ground, it is clear the government wishes to create a Hindu nation. Open Doors USA reports that “since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. As a result, Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more and more each year.” Persecution is categorized as “extreme.”
- Nigeria—No. 12 (up from No. 14)—Heightened violence means that believers are under constant threats from Boko Haram and other radical militants. According to Open Doors, attacks have “claimed the lives of hundreds of believers … and scores of villages and churches were burned to the ground. Additionally, in parts of northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens.” Persecuted in Nigeria is classified as “very high.”
- Nepal—No. 32 (down from No. 25)—Shenk says the drop in the rankings for Nepal is not due to the country becoming any safer, as Christians there are still very fearful. But because persecution has become so much worse in other countries, Nepal has moved down on the list. Open Doors reports that “most of the persecution of Christians comes from Hindu radical groups who want to turn Nepal into a Hindu state again. … There is no legal recognition of churches in Nepal (and) after the earthquake in April 2015 the government announced that it would help rebuild temples, mosques and Buddhist shrines but did not include churches—illustrating the bias against Christianity.” Persecution here is ranked “very high.”
- Bhutan—No. 33 (also No. 33 in 2018)—Leaders at The Tide ministry report that Christians in Bhutan are so fearful of backlash from the government and others that they don’t even take the risk to send letters or correspondence to the ministry. Open Doors says Buddhism is part of the national fabric of Bhutan, and no Christian congregation has ever been allowed to build a church structure there. All Christian fellowships remain underground due to the fear of Christian persecution. The government is intent on maintaining a strong national identity and unity by suppressing ‘foreign’ elements, including Christianity.” Persecution here is “very high” as well.