Afghanistan is now the worst nation in the world for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA, an organization that tracks global religious maltreatment. The shocking development is undoubtedly the “biggest seismic shift” in decades, as North Korea, the reclusive and oppressive East Asian country, was bumped from the top spot it had occupied for 20 years. “This year’s 2022 World Watch List, is the biggest seismic shift in over 20 years because Afghanistan is now the No. 1 country on the World Watch List, supplanting North Korea,” Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said. Afghanistan has long been embroiled in chaos, but the situation devolved further when the U.S. undertook a chaotic withdrawal last August, a retreat that carried with it serious consequences.
“Many people are aware of what’s happened since August in Afghanistan,” Curry said, citing the chaos and uncertainty. “It has emboldened Islamic extremists in other parts of the world. We believe it’s going to have a ripple effect.” Christians in Afghanistan face intensifying persecution at the hands of the resurgent Taliban, with militants purportedly arresting and possibly seeking to kill believers. Christian women, in particular, are especially vulnerable and are seen as ideological enemies.
Looking at the diverse forms of persecution that exist, Curry noted that there is a “two-front war” against Christianity that can be observed on the “World Watch List.” On one side, there are the tribal-led government forces like the Taliban and on the other are centralized and tech-savvy governments like what is seen in China.
Curry explained why the Chinese government’s actions should be deeply concerning. “Their system and their technology is the greatest threat right now overall in the future of religious expression,” he said, likening the methodical restrictions to a “high tech noose around the neck of expression of faith.”
Curry said the Chinese government has hampered the efforts of almost every church, forcing houses of worship to break into groups and to shut down. Christians are at risk of losing jobs, having travel restricted, and “even worse.” “They have artificial intelligence. They monitor all the video, they monitor the online presence,” he said.
Fortunately, we know how the underground church at the time of Mao grew strong under intense persecution. Believers were totally dependent upon God and miracles abounded as testified by Chinese believers like Brother You in his book The Heavenly Man. As prophesied, persecution increases in these last days before Jesus returns, and those totally committed to God will walk in the power of the Holy Spirit with all the gifts of the Spirit being manifested in their ministry to others.