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    4 Trends In Persecution For 2018

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    Mother In North Korea Raising A Family

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    One With Them Ambassadors

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    The Secular World Thoughts From Wybo

    World Watch List

    F R O N T L I N E FA I T H Sharing The Inside Story Of The Persecuted Church

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    Frontline Faith 2018 Is

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    Open Doors has been serving the persecuted church since 1955. I remember being with Brother Andrew as we celebrated 60 years of ministry and looked back on all the Lord had done.

    But what I loved was that Brother Andrew wasn’t as interested in the past as he was with the future.

    How would Open Doors continue to stay true to our original calling of serving the persecuted church? How could we continue to reliably, accurately and authoritatively be a voice on shifts in religious freedom globally?

    For me the answer lies in the World Watch List. This indexed ranking of the 50 most difficult places to follow Jesus continues to grow in relevance and impact.

    I am sure many of you reading this, like me, were unaware of how the World Watch List even came about. Let me take a moment to share that with you.

    Our Mission

    In 1989, at the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the focus of our ministry shifted. We realised after serving behind the Iron Curtain for more than 30 years, we needed to identify and report on the pressure Christians face in other parts of the world.

    And so in 1991, Open Doors created the first World Watch List and almost 30 years on, we’re still reporting global trends in religious freedom.

    From the fall of Communism and rise of Islamic extremism, to the growth of radical Hinduism and intolerant Atheism. Our team of persecution analysts and researchers work tirelessly to ensure data is captured and reported accurately.

    A Letter From Mike

    For almost 30 years, Open Doors have released the annual World Watch List showing the top 50 countries where it’s hardest to follow Jesus. Here are four trends from the 2018 World Watch List:

    1. A Close Score

    North Korea has ranked number one on the World Watch List for over a decade and this year was no exception. However, this year Afghanistan has come in at a close second behind North Korea. It’s the closest any country has been since 2002.

    In Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Islamic State control over 40% of the country. It’s incredibly difficult to be a believer. Christians are sometimes thought to be insane for leaving Islam and can end up in psychiatric wards.

    2. Islamic Oppression

    Islamic oppression is the main form of persecution for two-thirds of all countries on the World Watch List. Eight of them are from the top 10.

    There are different forms of Islamic oppression. An Islamic government can enforce laws that limit religious freedom, or Islamic extremists groups can attack churches and communities. While the oppression looks very different in each country, this is a common trend among the top 50.

    The Year Ahead

    In 2018, we want to make supporting the persecuted church more accessible than ever. I want to share one of the ways you can do that.

    At Easter this year we will be running something called One With Them. We’re asking people to donate one day’s wage to the persecuted church. The reason for this is that I believe every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus should do something, at least once a year, for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

    One With Them will be happening on 28 March this year. In many nations, when the church gathers around Easter, attacks increase. We want to stand with those who are suffering for their faith, especially at this significant time of year.

    I would love to ask you to pray for us and One With Them as we try to reach people who want to stand up for the persecuted church. You can find out more at onewiththem.com.au / onewiththem.co.nz

    I hope our World Watch List edition of Frontline Faith will help equip you to pray, leave you challenged to share your faith, and aware of how we can make a difference together for the persecuted church.

    It’s estimated that over 215 million Christians in the World Watch List countries are persecuted for their faith in Jesus. That’s one in every 12 believers worldwide.

    Mike Gore CEO Open Doors Australia and New Zealand michaelg@od.org / @_mikegore

    4 Trends In Persecution For 2018

    OPEN DOORS LIVE PODCAST Hear the persecuted church brought to life.

    Find episodes wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

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    Deserted road in North Korea

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    People dispersing after a prayer service in a village in India

    India has risen seven

    places in the last two

    years and has seen an

    increase in radical Hindus.

    3. Increased Violence

    Persecution is measured by two categories, violence and pressure. While Pakistan ranked fifth overall, it scored highest as the most violent place for Christians in the world.

    In December, nine Christians were killed when two gunmen wearing explosive vests stormed a church in Quetta City. Attacks occur year round, increasing around religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.

    The top five most violent countries ranked in order are Pakistan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, India and Egypt.

    4. Rise Of Radical Hinduism

    India has risen seven places in the last two years. A major increase in violence against Christians is set to continue. RSS, a Hindu radical group, has announced an end date for the church in the country. They have declared that by the end of 2021, they will remove Christianity from India.

    Nepal didn’t feature on the World Watch List in 2017, however, this year the country is ranked 25. Nepal is one of the only Hindu majority countries in the world. Radical Hindu’s are striving to see Nepal reinstated as a completely Hindu kingdom again.

    The World Watch List was created in 1991 as a response to the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall. It was developed as a tool to discover where persecution was, and where it was growing.

    See Wybo’s article on ‘The Secular World’ (p12) to learn how persecution may affect Christians living in western countries in the future.

    The persecuted church need our support and prayers. However, we also need to learn from them and stand together in the Great Commission to see all people know Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

    When two armed men came to the door, Henry thought they were police, until they kidnapped him.

    The city of Marawi, in the Philippines had been taken by the Islamic State. Henry was held captive with 18 other Christians, for eight days.

    “ At that time, I was not at ease, I saw a lot of things. In front of me, people were beheaded…”

    “ Every second that the clock ticked, we prayed to the Lord. We prayed for our captors.”

    During an airstrike, Henry and some other hostages were able to escape.

    “ I can’t explain my joy in seeing my family. The Lord gave me another opportunity – he gave me, my children, and my wife a new chance to know Him more.”

    Read full story “Captured By ISIS In Marawi’ opendoors.org.au/blog opendoors.org.nz/blog

    Roman* was a very conservative Muslim who decided to disrupt a Christian church service. He wanted to target betrayers.

    “ By ‘betrayers’ I meant Christians with a Muslim Background,” Roman said. “I decided to go to the church service during Ramadan because I considered myself to be a devout Muslim. I want to prove my faith to Allah.”

    The church service started, but Roman couldn’t force himself to stand up and cause a scene. The words that were spoken touched him too much.

    “ For the first time I heard about a God who loved me. I never knew that the almighty God loved me even though I am not perfect. That thought seriously never entered my mind. I always felt guilty. I felt that I had to earn His attention.”

    Roman repented and gave his life to Christ.

    “ I never want to go back to the Muslim faith.”

    The Coptic cross is a tattoo get many believers in Egypt get as a permanent reminder, and public declaration, of their faith.

    Basse