One woman in Afghanistan shared with Open Doors that the Taliban had tortured and killed her father because he was a Christian, and months later her brother disappeared. She and her mother have fled to save their lives. She described their situation as “desperate” and said, “I feel alone and hopeless.”
Curry noted that Christian women in Afghanistan are highly vulnerable. One person told Open Doors that the Taliban is going door-to-door and taking girls away from their families; the top reason, in fact, why Christians are leaving Afghanistan is to protect their families. And the danger to women is not just in Afghanistan. Said Curry, “Christian women are the most vulnerable group in the world today.”
China’s ‘Persecution Roadmap’
Curry reiterated a trend he had highlighted during the release of the 2020 World Watch List, namely the unique threat that China poses to religious freedom in the world. The country’s leaders have created a “model of using centralized government control to suppress and exterminate the free practice of religion of all kinds,” he said.
The Open Doors president specifically mentioned the social score China’s government is giving its citizens and leaders’ use of facial recognition technology to surveil places of worship. Churches are being forced to go underground, online churches are heavily monitored, and the government approved Three-Self Church is not permitted to meet online at all. Government leaders are censoring sermons and even editing the Bible.
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Curry warned that the Chinese government is using technology to monitor social networks in the U.S. and other western countries with the purpose of targeting foreign dissidents. This means, he said, “If you write or share an article about the World Watch List today and mention China, they’re listening to you.” Curry also highlighted the human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Uyghur Muslims, including forced labor and forced sterilization.
Leaders in the U.S. need to take a bipartisan stand in calling China to account for its human rights abuses, said Curry, who also challenged viewers to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Games will be held in Beijing in February, and Open Doors is calling on “every Christian in our nation to join this boycott of the Olympics in the name of our persecuted brothers and sisters in China.” Open Doors is asking people not even to watch the Olympics on TV. Curry also asked consumers to evaluate whether or not various products were made in China—and potentially manufactured through forced labor—before purchasing them.
The final trend Curry highlighted from the 2022 World Watch List pertained to the plight of Christians in Nigeria and the surrounding region, an area he called “the epicenter of jihadi violence against Christians.” People there are suffering brutal attacks at the hands of Fulani extremists and other extremist groups.
Despite this sobering news, God is still at work among his people throughout the world, Curry noted. Churches are growing in many places. Believers are maturing in their faith, discipling their families, loving one another, and valuing the Scriptures more. “These are lessons we can all benefit from,” said Curry. “There is hope, even in great darkness.”