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Open Doors Canada Releases 2020 World Watch List

It’s clear: in the past year, the world has become a less tolerant and less safe place for hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. That’s one of the findings of the latest World Watch List, Open Doors’ annual research into the 50 most dangerous nations to practice one’s faith as a Christian. The 2020 World Watch List (WWL) was released at a live event in Toronto, on January 16.

The World Watch List (WWL) ranks the difficulty faced by Christians in countries around the world, and is the only instrument that measures the persecution of Christians, annually. In the top 50 countries alone, a conservative estimate identifies that 260 million Christians face a level of persecution measured as extreme, very high or high. In total, one in eight Christians worldwide face persecution measured as extreme, very high or high– a six per cent increase from 2019. Across the top 50, pressure is rising. In 2020, 34 countries registered a “very high” level of persecution. Last year, the number was 29.

North Korea remains the most dangerous place for Christians, having been number one since the inception of the list in 2002. Something as simple as owning a Bible can mean a person is arrested and taken to one of the country’s infamous labour camps, never to return.

Eleven countries have been ranked as having an “extreme” level of persecution:

So, why the world watch list matters?

Open Doors Serve the Persecuted Church

Since 1955, Open Doors has been strengthening Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus. They partner with the local church in over 60 countries to help them advance the gospel in their nation even in the face of persecution.

Each year, Open Doors publishes the World Watch List, an indexed ranking of the top 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian. This guidebook is perfect for anyone wanting insight into the pressure Christians face for following Jesus.

It Shows Us Where God Is At Work
As a ministry, Open Doors doesn’t exist to end persecution. The reality is, wherever the Gospel is being shared, persecution exists. Instead, Open Doors works to strengthen the Church to continue sharing the message of Jesus. The World Watch List shows us where persecution is on the rise, how God is at work and where the Gospel is advancing.

It Is Trustworthy
For almost 30 years, Open Doors has produced the World Watch List, compiled by a group of eight full-time persecution analysts, all experts in their field of study. The list is audited externally by the International Institute for Religious Freedom, and is accepted as the most authoritative list of its kind.

It Impacts The Church in Canada
The Open Doors two-fold mission is to strengthen Christians living under persecution, and to mobilize the Canadian Church to identify with the global body of Christ. helps the persecuted family around the world to be the light of Jesus in their communities. And as their stories make their way into our churches, Bible studies and homes, we become bolder in our faith.

It Affects The Work We Do
We work to strengthen the persecuted church to withstand persecution and to continue sharing the Gospel in their nation. As persecution in each country changes, we are able to adapt and to fine-tune how we can best serve the persecuted church.

It Impacts You
The World Watch List reminds us that we shouldn’t be trying to avoid persecution (2Timothy3:12). Instead, we should be prepared to stand firm in courageous obedience, knowing that wherever the Gospel is being shared, persecution exists. Read more about where God is at work:

The Key Areas For Measuring Christian Freedom

The World Watch List is based on a comprehensive scoring system that measures the degree of freedom Christians have in five key areas of life – private, family, community, national and church life. These are then added to the amount of violence they experience to provide a final score.

Private life
How free is a Christian to simply believe? Is conversion to Christianity allowed? Can they worship privately and possess religious materials? Do they have freedom of conscience and thought?

Family life
How free are Christians to express their faith within their family? Will they be thrown out? Is it possible to live as a Christian family, to celebrate Christian marriages and funerals?

Community life
Can Christians live without harassment and discrimination in their local communities? How does their faith affect their education or employment? Will they be driven out of their village?

National life
Are national institutions – such as the government, legal system and media – opposed to Christianity? Is it illegal for Christians to express their faith? Can they call themselves Christians on their ID or passport? Will the police come calling?

Church life
Are Christians allowed to meet? Can they build churches? And if they can, are they heavily monitored? Can Christian leaders be trained? Are Bibles freely available?

Are Christians attacked mentally or physically? Are they arrested, abducted, tortured, imprisoned or even killed? Do they face sexual harassment?

2019 Key facts
  • Worldwide, persecution is rising.
  • Over 260 million Christians experience high levels of persecution.
  • At least 9,488 churches and Christian buildings were attacked.
  • More than 3,711 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned.
  • Last year, at least 2,983 Christians were killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.

**These statistics represent reported incidences only. There are undoubtedly many unreported incidences as well.

Click HERE to download the full detailed report about the 50 countries on the 2020 Watch List.