The Elephant in The Room
When we think of Christian persecution, our thoughts normally rush to the Middle East, or to countries like China or North Korea. But there is a rapid growth in persecution in another part of the world. Persecution and Islamic extremism is spreading and growing in Africa.
Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of visiting believers across North Africa. I saw firsthand the destructive violence in the area as I visited and stood in the blast zone of a suicide bomber. I met with underground churches who struggled to contain the volume of their worship as they tried to meet secretly, and were overcome by the grace of Jesus Christ as they sang. I’ve met with secret believers, one of whom is currently evangelising to several Imams and receives death threats weekly.
At a conference last year I sat with Brother Andrew as he spoke about the fact that the need for Open Doors has only increased in that time. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was a statement from Ron Boyd-MacMillan (author and spokesperson for Open Doors) who said:
"As a ministry we believe that Sub- Saharan Africa will be the fastest growing persecution theatre for the next 25 years."
Africa is the elephant in the room of persecution. It has a large and thriving church, but what many of us don’t realise is that following Jesus comes at a huge price for many believers.
The World Watch List surveys countries across various categories of persecution (government, family life, violence) which are added together for a total score to create their ranking. However if we ranked countries solely on the category of violence against Christians, then the top 6 countries would all be from Sub-Saharan Africa.
While a lot of our attention and perceptions of radical Islam may still be linked to the Middle East, there is a change rapidly happening. As extremism not only increases but also spreads, we need to prepare and pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in every part of the world.
This post was written by Mike Gore, CEO Open Doors Australia and New Zealand. Follow Mike on Instagram