Christ is risen

And, as he warned, the world continues to hate him and those who follow him.

As Christians around the world prepare to observe the holy weekend of Easter, many will be asked at their services to pray for the persecuted around the world. After years of advocacy groups raising awareness, the plight of the Christians of the Middle East, particularly in the former Islamic State territories, has become common knowledge among American Christians. Yet they are far from the only group that will celebrate Easter this year in defiance of state persecution, mob violence, and repressive cultural norms imposed by groups threatened by the spread of the Christian faith.

Below, six countries where Christians struggle to practice their faith freely against systematic institutional and cultural pressure.

China: Xi Jinping has led a systematic crackdown on “unauthorized” Christianity that has worsened year after year since he became “president” in 2013. Xi has led a movement to “sinicize” Christianity, forcing the legal Christian churches to deliver sermons extolling the virtues of his regime. “Unauthorized” Christianity is deemed a “national security threat,” and Christians who dare worship in their homes face severe law enforcement reprimand.

Venezuela: Dictator Nicolás Maduro and his subordinates have struggled for years to submit the Christian faith to their whims – publishing socialist Christmas carols, identifying their policies with the Gospels, and proclaiming that “Christ is Chavista.”

India: In India, the repression faced by many Christians is not at the hands of the government, but at the hands of violent Hindu nationalist mobs. According to Open Doors, an organization that tracks the persecution of the Christian faithful worldwide, the permissive attitude of a Hindu nationalist government has allowed for the exacerbation of violence against these communities, some of the oldest Christian congregations on earth. In one incident this year, a mob tortured and hanged a Christian pastor after six months of loudly disturbing Sunday services. Local police ruled the death a suicide, triggering thousands to protest for justice.

Nigeria: Nigeria’s population is 40 percent Christian, with many practicing freely in the nation’s south. In the north, however, Christians face severe persecution from jihadist groups like Boko Haram and violence by the majority-Muslim Fulani herdsmen against Christian farmers. The herdsmen are believed to be conducting raids targeting Christians and have killed an estimated thousands of civilians.

Sudan: Sudan, a nation run by Muslim tyrant wanted for genocide, is one of the most repressive states in the world, a Muslim-majority tyranny where Christians face destruction of property and arbitrary arrest if they are too visible. Open Doors ranks Sudanese Christians in the top five most persecuted Christian nationalities in the world.

Indonesia: Indonesian Christians are under growing public scrutiny. While Christians have long coexisted in the world’s most populous Islamic country, they have increasingly fallen victim to radical Islamic mobs.

Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
– Luke 6:22