On average, more than 13 Christians are killed each day for their faith.
That means almost every two hours, a believer is killed.
And it’s roughly 5,000 people each year.
These shocking statistics come out of the research for the 2024 World Watch List
, the annual report from Open Doors that reveals the 50 countries around the world where it’s most dangerous to follow Jesus. The research for the 2024 list took place from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.
Get the 2024 World Watch List
Learn where faith in Jesus costs the most
The numbers are appalling. Simply because they follow Jesus:
- 4,125 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned
- 3,906 believers were abducted
- More than 3,200 Christians were raped, sexually harassed or forced to marry non-Christians
- 42,849 followers of Jesus were physically or mentally abused
- And nearly 300,000 Christians were forced to leave their homes, go into hiding or flee their country of origin.
Since Open Doors’ research teams only use reports they can verify through on-the-ground networks, these figures are likely significant undercounts.
Another alarming statistic from this year’s World Watch List
research is the number of Christian properties that were attacked or closed. More than 14,000 churches, Christian schools, hospitals and other buildings were targeted last year—and that’s a 700% increase over the previous year.
Figures show that churches in China
(estimated 10,000 closed) and India
(2,228 attacked) were the most vulnerable to being closed down or destroyed. These two countries make up nearly 83% of attack/closure incidents on churches in all countries on the 2024 list. Church attacks in Angola, Burkina Faso
, Rwanda and Sudan
were particularly high.
Following Jesus in so many places is dangerous and violent. Simply living out your faith can be enough to get your church attacked or closed—or to get you killed.
How to have faith, no matter what
And yet, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Each person is someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother … the pain is immense.
“That day, I cried like never before,” says Pastor Zachariah, a Christian in Nigeria whose wife and children were killed in an attack from Fulani militants. “It was on that day I knew that death was truly painful.”
Nigeria, ranked No. 6 on the 2024 World Watch List
“It was on that day I knew that death was truly painful.”
Pastor Zachariah, Nigeria
, is far and away the most violent country in the world for followers of Jesus. A staggering 4,118 Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria during the 2024 World Watch List reporting period—82% of the total number of believers killed for their faith.
“When I saw her [my wife’s] body, I remembered the life I lived with her,” Pastor Zachariah says. “We went out preaching together in the northeastern region, we opened churches together. We did everything together; we walked hand in hand with each other, we did not have any problems.
“Honestly when this attack took place I felt as if God had forsaken me, because I said, ‘If God is in control, why would He allow these people to cause this kind of attack on us? Where is He that He will not take charge of the situation? He has the power to kill them but decides not to.’”
The human toll of this violence is impossible to overstate. You’d be forgiven for assuming that Pastor Zachariah and the thousands of other Christians who have lost loved ones have been left to despair.
But that would be a mistake.
Pastor Zachariah and the 365+ million believers who live in places with high levels of persecution and discrimination against Christians can show us how to have faith, no matter what.
“The reason I give thanks is because God knows everything, He allowed them [my family] to go because it was their time, God decided to call them home,” Pastor Zachariah says. “For those who have found themselves in similar situations with that which we have experienced, my prayer is that we should rely on God because He is everything we live for. If we turn our attention away from God, we will see Him as someone who cannot help us, but if we believe He can do all things, then we will not be broken.”
This is the true story of the violence against Christians: horror, yes, but also a resilient faith, comforted by the hope and peace only Jesus can bring.
As you look through the 2024 World Watch List
, don’t look away from the painful numbers. Let it break your heart. But let it change your faith and drive you to your knees. Through our prayers, we can stand with and encourage our brothers and sisters like Pastor Zachariah. And from their faith, we can be reminded that Jesus is with us, no matter what.
Click here to download the 2024 World Watch List prayer booklet.