When you look at lists of the most dangerous places to be a Christian, you’ll find countries like North Korea, India, Syria, Iraq, and China — all countries our organization, World Help, works in helping those facing human rights abuses. So nearly every week, I hear stories of Christians facing persecution, and as I’ve traveled, I’ve heard many of those stories firsthand.
But over the past several years, I’ve noticed an alarming shift. Christians are being killed at an ever increasing rate. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calls persecution at “a near genocide” level.
According to one report, an average of 11 Christians are killed every day. And while Christ-followers used to be able to remain undetected by meeting in underground churches, it is getting harder to hide.
These days, we’re all aware of the dangers of social media. It has been used for some time as a way to bully or mistreat individuals. But in some countries in the Middle East, it is now being used to fan the flames of hatred against those who profess faith in Christ.
Open Doors, an organization that reports on Christian persecution around the world, recently shared the story of a young man named Fady Youssef Todary. Todary is a Christian living in Egypt. Although Egypt is primarily a Muslim nation, Todary was well liked and respected in his community.
Then one day, everything changed. An anti-Islamic post went up on his Facebook page, and people in his community were outraged. The problem was, Todary didn’t write the post. His account was hacked, and although he apologized and shared his side of the story, an angry mob made their way to his home and destroyed his family’s belongings.
A few days later, the police showed up to arrest Todary for blasphemy, an offense that according to Egyptian law can result in up to a five-year prison sentence.
And he is not the first victim of social media hackers.
In an attempt to stir up hatred toward Christians, hackers are posting fake inflammatory statements on Christians’ social media accounts and causing innocent men and women like Todary to be thrown in jail, beaten, and even killed. In other parts of the world, social media is being used by governments or extremist groups to identify and target believers, making them susceptible to attacks.
Look at what’s happening in China. The government has introduced a social credit score based on people’s activities, friends, jobs, and how they spend their free time.
Officials monitor social media accounts as part of the process to determine a person’s “trustworthy” score. If a person does something the government doesn’t like — for instance, criticizes the country’s leaders or attends a non-government sanctioned church — the score is lowered.
A low score actually prohibits a person from activities such as buying a train or plane ticket, affects job opportunities, and can even keep someone’s child from attending the best schools.
There have even been reports that Chinese Christians have been evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs because they have a low social credit score.
As a result, Christian persecution continues to rise. In 2018, over 245 million men and women endured incredible abuse because of their faith. Nearly 2,000 churches were attacked, and over 3,000 believers were detained or arrested without trial, just like Todary. And those are just the ones we know about.
In many parts of the world, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to live as a Christian, and that is why today matters. November 3 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and I hope you agree that no one should be hunted, attacked, manipulated, or abused for their faith.
Today, take a moment to think about the men and women like Todary who are boldly clinging to their faith, despite great persecution. Share their stories, and pray that these innocent men and women will be able to stand strong, regardless of what they face.
Noel Yeatts is an active advocate for social justice and humanitarian needs around the world. With over 20 years of experience in humanitarian work, Noel is an author, speaker, and the President of World Help, an international, Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished communities around the world. Noel regularly takes the stage for speaking engagements and advocacy events around the country and has been widely recognized for her groundbreaking book, “Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time.” To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.