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A Taliban member - Photo: Voice of America
A member of the Taliban.
Photo: Screenshot from Voice of America

Each year, the Open Doors International organization publishes a list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to follow Jesus. For the past 20 years, North Korea has topped that list due to the oppressive rule of the Kim dynasty (see the North Korea country report for more details).

In the most recent report, which was published this January, a shift in ranking has clearly taken place. Afghanistan is now at the top of the list, designating it as the most dangerous country to be a Christian. According to Open Doors, the change is not because of improvements in North Korea. On the contrary, the level of persecution in the so-called "Hermit Kingdom" has increased. However, with the return of the Taliban to power, the already oppressive nation of Afghanistan has become so dangerous for Christians that it is now considered the most perilous nation in the world.

While reports coming from Afghanistan are difficult to obtain these days, due to the seriousness of the situation, we do know that many Christians have fled the country in recent months. Numerous others have gone into hiding, as the names of these believers have been distributed among members of the terrorist group in order to hunt them down. Previously published reports on the persecution of Christians in Afghanistan, including video interviews, are available at our country report. To view the information recently published in this year's World Watch List, go to this page.

Please intercede on behalf of the many believers remaining in Afghanistan, asking that they be given the strength, help and hope that's required to endure each new day. As these faithful followers of Christ endeavour to live honourably for Him in this extremely dangerous nation, and raise their children accordingly, may their every decision be based on His wisdom and guidance. For those who have fled the country, and forced to leave behind beloved family and friends, pray that they will find places of refuge where they can serve as vibrant witnesses of the Gospel. Furthermore, pray for God's ongoing ministry to the oppressed people of Afghanistan, so that – even in the midst of intense persecution – many more will have their spiritual eyes opened to reality of the Risen Saviour and willingly accept Him into their hearts.