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By John Stonestreet
While the civilized world rightly expressed outrage over the slaughter of 12 cartoonists, the plight of 100 million persecuted Christians is largely ignored.
While in 2014 the days of throwing Christians to wild beasts in the arena may be behind us, the persecution of Christians around the world isn't. In fact, the number of our brothers and sisters subjected to imprisonment, torture, and death for their faith in just the last twelve months dwarfs the number who suffered during the entire tenure of Nero.
As a new report from a leading ministry to the persecuted church shows, last year was one of the most violent on record for believers worldwide—and 2015 could be worse.
Open Doors International released its World Watch List earlier this month, ranking the top 50 most dangerous and difficult countries for Christians to live in. Here are the results:
For the 13th year in a row, North Korea ranked as the worst persecutor of Christians. Amid executing relatives and presiding over the disappearances of his political rivals, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has reserved his special wrath for Christians.
Open Doors estimates that 70,000 believers are currently imprisoned for their faith in this hermit kingdom. And considering North Koreans outside of jail live in a state of semi-starvation, I shudder to think what it's like behind bars.
Executions for crimes of owning Bibles or evangelizing are commonplace. News agencies reported last year that Kim Jong-un personally sentenced 33 church planters to death.
“Christians,” explains Open Doors president David Curry, “are the No. 1 enemy of the state in North Korea.”
And that's just one frontier in the battle between the Gospel and modern Neros…
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