Back to Jerusalem has been working together with the underground house church of China in different nations between China and Jerusalem to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Most of the nations where BTJ missionaries serve are between the Great Wall of China and the Western Wall of Jerusalem. These nations are home to about 2/3rds of the world’s population.
The area between China and Jerusalem is considered to be the final frontier of missions. The majority of the world’s unreached people groups, those that have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ, are located here.
This area is also high on the misery index. Many of the nations between China and Jerusalem are full of violence, poverty, disease and military conflict. It is where the enemy is creating most resistance against the Gospel message.
Most nations between China and Jerusalem are intolerant of Christianity and show extreme aggression towards anyone who tries to share about the love of Jesus. The persecution against Christians in this region is growing.
In 2019, the British government grew concerned about increasing level of persecution against Christians and sponsored a study. When the study was released in July 2019, it revealed shocking evidence that the persecution against Christians is ‘near genocide’ levels.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “The sense of misguided political correctness that has stopped us standing up for Christians overseas must end. At home we all benefit from living in a tolerant, diverse society and we should not be afraid of promoting those values abroad. It is a sad fact that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in modern times.”
According to the study, an estimated one-third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with 80% of them being Christians. “Across the globe, in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Christians are being bullied, arrested, jailed, expelled, and executed. Christianity is by most calculations the most persecuted religion of modern times.”
According to recent data, one Christian is killed for his or her faith every 180 minutes.
This report is not meant to spark fear or anger into the hearts of Christians, but instead to shed light on the suffering of fellow believers around the world and to better understand those that are living in darkness.
True followers of Jesus Christ must launch a rescue mission to make the salvation of Christ known among the most unreached people groups no matter the cost. As Christians we have all been charged with completing the Great Commission and we cannot shy away from the areas that require sacrifice. We cannot ignore our brothers and sisters who need us to stand in solidarity with them. Christians can no longer remain silent about the human rights abuses that are taking place in closed countries.
To highlight the need, Back to Jerusalem is publishing a simple list of the ten most dangerous countries to be a Christian in the world today.
The following list is based on personal experience as well as reports of missionaries in the field.
China went off the rails in 2019. The Chinese Communist Party seems more determined than ever to stop the radical growth of Christianity at all costs. In the last year China has implemented new laws and new strategies specifically aimed at persecuting Christians. They have imprisoned thousands of Christians, torn down tens of thousands of crosses, and closed the doors of hundreds of churches.
Not only are Chinese Christian pastors being targeted, but their children are being persecuted as well.
China has implemented an electronic monitoring and commerce system that is not unlike the ‘Mark of the Beast’ mentioned in Revelation 13. They help other countries implement similar systems as well.
China has also undertaken the audacious project of working on a new Bible translation that will provide a new ‘socialist-friendly’ version of the Gospel writings. China believes that if they can succeed in changing the Word of God, they can succeed at controlling the Christian growth in China.
China ranks in the top ten for BTJ this year because of their aggressive activities on so many fronts against so many believers in such a short amount of time.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, comes as no surprise. Islam started on the Arabic peninsula by killing and enslaving Christians and Jews. That tradition continues to this day. Saudi Arabia can no more remove itself from Islamic extremism than the Vatican can remove itself from the practice of Catholicism.
Sadly, when it comes to violence against Christians, Islamic nations continue to be the worst violators.
Rape and sexual harassment of expatriate Christian women is a huge problem. Christian women from poor countries are especially vulnerable.
Secret Saudi Christians risk imprisonment, physical abuse and even death if they are discovered. Islam is the only recognized religion in Saudi Arabia. It is a capital offense for any Muslim to convert to Christianity, so Christians are forced to meet in secret. Non-Muslim meeting places are not allowed. According to the Hadith (traditional record of Muhammad’s life and teachings) on his death bed Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula.”
The Royal family of Saudi Arabia consider themselves to be the caretakers of Mecca and have diligently enforced Sharia Law to honor the final request of Muhammad.
Sudan is a notorious abuser of Christians and has been for the last 30 years. Convicted war criminal Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was deposed a few months ago in a coup d’état, but it is not yet known if things will be better under the new leadership.
Sudanese Christians face constant persecution. Multiple church buildings were demolished in 2017 and 2018, leaving many Christians without a place to worship.
Few can forget the tragic story of Mariam Ibrahim Ishag who was thrown in prison for apostasy. Mariam was a pregnant mother who had been arrested and thrown into prison along with her young child because she refused to deny the name of Christ. Her one-year-old son was chained to her and forced to live in the squalor of a Sudanese prison.
Miriam was convicted of apostasy for not following the religion of her Muslim father even though she had been raised as a Christian by her Ethiopian mother. The court ruled that, while pregnant, she was to receive 100 lashes and publicly hanged.
Miriam’s tragic story unfortunately is repeated again and again for so many Christians in Sudan.
Welcome to Uzbekistan where Christian persecution has been on the rise for several years. Uzbekistan is the central Asian country with the most severe restrictions on Christians. Simply owning a Bible has become a high crime. Reports of Christians being imprisoned for owning religious books have been on the rise.
Uzbekistan was under Russian control for many years and when they won their independence there was a hope in the Christian community that things would be better for them. Those hopes have been slowly fading. Believers can now even be fined for having Christians songs on their phone.
Christians make up almost ten percent of the population, but as of late they find themselves living under a harsh dictatorship of an Islamic majority. Religious authorities have launched a secret police force to raid underground house churches and disrupt all illegal Christian activity in the country. The secret police have very few rules restricting rabid abuse, so when they discover Christian activity, their procedures can be cruel and barbaric.
Azon.uz is a radical website that often acts as the voice of even moderate Muslims in Uzbekistan. One of the leaders, Said Islam wrote, “We have one choice in front of us – either we will abandon our religion, or we will live by Allah’s rules.”
Sharia Law is the legislation that is being used to oppress Christians. Muslim converts to Christianity are receiving a treatment even worse than what cultural Christians get to endure.
Uzbekistan has a long history of respecting other religious groups. Our prayer is that Uzbekistan will find their way back to these traditional cultural values that allow for religious freedom.
There is a disease in Iran right now called A.B.I syndrome – ‘Anything But Islam’. It is not just the Christians who have suffered in Iran. People of all religious backgrounds have been held captive by the suffocating power of Islam for four decades and are clearly fed up with it.
The opposition against the Ayatollah’s regime is rising to dangerous levels and today they can only rule the nation with constant threats of violence. In the face of these threats and the resulting fear in which people live, Christians are bringing hope. But it is not without cost.
The Islamic clerics of Iran view Christians as their top enemy. Christians are regularly attacked, beaten, and thrown in prison.
“The government is so afraid of Christians,” one sister shared with BTJ in Sweden, “that they employed teachers like me to find them. I was a teacher in Iran for many years and my job was to play games with the children to find out which of them had parents that were secret Christian believers. Once I learned which children came from Christian homes, I would inform the government and they would send in the secret police to raid the home.”
Christians are regularly placed in maximum security prisons and tortured for their Christian beliefs.
Bibles, Christian teaching materials, and Christian music are illegal in Iran. Currently there are no Persian speaking churches allowed in Iran, but our prayer is to see that change soon.
One word can be used to describe the situation for Christians in Yemen – EXTREME!
Yemen was the first nation on the Arab peninsula to receive Back to Jerusalem missionaries almost twenty years ago, so it is special to us. However, sharing the Gospel in Yemen is risky business. If you are caught spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, it could mean a death sentence.
As if things were not hard enough for Christians in Yemen, now the nation is also torn apart by civil war. The chaos of war has helped radical Sharia Law become the law of the land. Nowhere is safe for Christians in Yemen.
The original Christian minority in Yemen is tiny. Most of the Christians in Yemen are Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). Illegal underground house-church services are the only way in which Christians are able to meet together and worship Jesus.
If Yemeni MBBs are discovered, they face extreme danger on many different fronts. They face persecution from the government, their families, and their neighborhood. If a family member murders a known Christian convert, they would most likely not be punished, but rewarded.
If a convert is married, then they risk losing their marriage and their children. Sharia Law in Yemen dictates that apostasy is a reason for divorce and Christians are not fit to raise children.
Welcome to the land of 48,000 mosques and not even one church.
In Afghanistan, even moderate Muslims can experience persecution if they are not extreme enough in the public displays of their faith. Public displays of religious piety are encouraged by the Islamic social structure. Islam is knit into the fabric of everyday life and Christians need not apply.
Afghanistan is a nation that was run by the Taliban for many years and many would argue that it is still run by the Taliban. After the war (which is still on-going) the United States poured billions of dollars into the nation to build up the infrastructure. Money was given for roads, schools, and public buildings. Funding was injected to jump-start the economy, but to no avail.
In the end, the religious leaders rejected it all and regained their grip on the people.
Afghanistan can barely go a week without a bombing or killing of some kind. Killing fellow Muslims over disagreements is routine, so people do not think twice about dealing harshly with Christians.
The basic freedoms that Christians in the west take for granted are not enjoyed in Afghanistan, but BTJ missionaries are focused on bringing the Good News to this nation and seeing the people set free by the love of Jesus Christ.
Yes, number three. Are you surprised?
So many Christians have seen North Korea at the top of the list for so many years that they just assume that it will always be the worst country to be a Christian.
In case you are wondering, North Korea did not drop to the number three spot because life has gotten better. It has dropped the third spot because life in other places has grown worse for Christians.
Let’s face it, there is no other nation on earth like North Korea. Visiting North Korea is like leaving planet earth. Nothing about the society is based on reality. It is all based on fear. Traffic cops direct traffic in the capital city of Pyongyang – even when there are no cars on the road. Immigration agents type on computers – that are not plugged in. North Korea is officially an atheist state, but the deification and required worship of Kim Il Song, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un is undeniable.
Pastors have been executed in stadiums full of forced spectators, Bible study attendees have had their heads crushed by steam rollers, and new believers have been shot in the back of the head for owning a Bible.
Several thousand known Christians are currently imprisoned in gulags where they are forced to work in coal mines.
There are truly few places on earth that are as close to a living hell as is North Korea.
Somalia is the land that has been forgotten. They are a nation without a lot of natural resources, so the west shows no interest in helping with the humanitarian crisis that has plagued the land for several generations.
About half of Somalia’s population lives in extreme poverty and needs aid to survive. There is a never-ending conflict between Islamic warlords fighting for control of the nation. Unfortunately, any group that attempts to provide relief is a target for attack or kidnapping.
Somalia is a breeding ground for terrorist training camps and Islamic extremist teachings.
Suicide bombs and kidnappings are weekly events and Christians are an unwilling part of this chaos. With more than 99% of the population being Muslim – Christians are considered “high-value” targets. One does not even have to actually convert to Christianity. Merely being suspected of converting can end one’s life.
This can create a culture of suspicion where everyone suspects everyone of being capable of being a Christian. As a result, Muslims are known to exaggerate their hate for Christianity so that they will not be accused of apostasy.
Somalia has no single government in control of the entire country. Police are controlled by whichever dominant war lord is in charge for the day. If Christians are arrested or detained, they do not have a justice system to turn to.
Because of the lack of structure and the lack of concern among churches, Somalia tops our BTJ list. In North Korea the main enemy for Christians is the government. The government has absolute control and hunts Christians like animals, but in Somalia the enemy is … well…everyone. Everyone is capable of hunting down Christians and killing them.
As BTJ we work in both North Korea and Somalia and are currently on the ground in both nations. In our opinion, the lack of government structure makes it even more dangerous for Christians in Somalia than it is in North Korea.
Wait! Social media is NOT a country!
First, let’s looks at the size:
The country that poses the greatest threat to Christianity in the world
- has more citizens than any nation in the world
- has more Christians than any nation in the world
- has more power than any other nation on earth in terms of influence – they can sway entire elections one way or the other
Google alone is the 19th richest nation with higher GDP than Switzerland and controls 20% of world’s media
Second, let’s look at the power and influence:
Social Media is connected in some way with every part of daily life, but the citizens do not get to vote. They do not get to appoint their ruler. They do not get equity from the profits that are made.
Think of this, Google either owns or are in contractual agreements with every major sector in the world including General Electric (energy), Proctor and Gamble (food and medicine), JP Morgan chase (money, banking, commerce). They are involved in oil, gas, insurance, military, communication, education, health care, real estate, TV and movies, aerospace – the Google founders are the only two people with their own runway at NASA.
Google has purchased one company a week since 2010.
Google is the top spender for lobbyists in the US and spends a lot of money in both Washington and Brussels to impose their will.
75% of lobbyists for Google are former government employees.
Under President Obama’s administration there were 250 employees that kept changing jobs – working for the White House – then Google – then back.
An anti-trust think tank in Washington that helps write anti-trust laws is funded by….yes…. Google.
Third, let’s evaluate the persecution:
It is true that the executives of Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc have not nailed Christians to crosses and crucified them.
So, then why are they are the top of the list?
Because when it comes to persecution against Christians, social media is the most powerful nation in the world capable of wielding more pain on Christians than any single nation on earth.
And they have already shown signs of aggression against Christians.
For Christmas 2017, BTJ did a podcast with a newly purchased Google Home. Google Home sold more units for Christmas 2017 than at any other time – yet when asked for information about the holiday for Christmas – Google Home did not know. In addition to that, when asked for information about Jesus Christ – again – nothing.
BUT! When we asked Google Home about Muhammad – there was a lot of great and positive information given regarding the “Prophet of Peace.” When we asked Google Home about Buddha – yes – again information came flowing out like a river.
During the same year, on June 24, 2017, Rowaida Abdelaziz, the Muslim social media editor of Huffpost and formerly with Al Jazeera Arabic, published a pro-Muslim propaganda piece titled, “Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims” in which she claimed BillionBibles.org is harming Muslims by discussing Sharia Law and Taqiyya.
Two days later, Google stopped serving advertisements for BillionBibles.org. Google then suddenly labelled BillionBibles.org information “dangerous or derogatory content,” which it in turn defined as content that “threatens or advocates for harm” or “harasses, intimidates or bullies” or “incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group of individuals.”
BillionBibles.org simply shared information to their readers to encourage supporters to help provide Bibles in Muslim nations. They were blocked anyway.
China’s Christians are the ‘canary in the coal mine’ right now, because of the digital threat that we are seeing from WeChat and search engine Baidu.com.
In China, social media is increasingly being used against Christians.
Two years ago, in the mega-city of Nansha District, a large municipality of Guangzhou, China issued their first government ID by using WeChat, a social media app used in China like Facebook. This was a test of the digital ID system. It was successful and now China is requiring all citizens to have a digital ID that is connected to WeChat.
WeChat is the world’s first mega-app. According to security analysts, this trend highlights the increasing reliance of the Chinese government on government controlled social media.
China sees social media as a way to monitor their citizens and follow their activities. Christians have been one of their top targets. So far it has been successful. The government now knows that they can effectively use technology companies and these technology companies know that there are large profits for those that play along with the Chinese government.
GOOGLE, Apple, and Facebook are lining up to be next to profit from this breakthrough technology in China.
Never before in the history of man has a government ID been implemented by a social media company to promote public policy.
This might seem confusing for so many Christians because for the past 20 years, online media has greatly helped Christians who have been long locked out of mainstream TV networks, big magazines, academia, and government.
In the past ten years, social media has let Christians find each other and champion causes and speak up for persecuted Christians. It has been a wonderful way to share messages and ideas. Back to Jerusalem has over 35k followers on Facebook and other ministries and mission organizations can say the same. As a result, many Christians have gladly and enthusiastically signed up for accounts on Facebook, Google, and YouTube. Many of the people reading this article hold an iPhone or Android powered device.
Unfortunately, things are changing. There is a new boss in town.
Once China had most of their population using the social media giant WeChat, they then began using it for control. Once Christians got used to using WeChat, China was able to use it to track them down, monitor their conversation, and map their activities.
Social media outlets in the west seem to be doing the same. Now that most Christians are all rounded up in one place online, what they have to say is being greatly censored and what they are able to see is fed to them.
“Chillingly, a growing censorship of Christian and politically conservative viewpoints on the internet is happening,” said the National Religious Broadcasters, a group set up in 1944 to combat corporate censorship of evangelical radio ministries.
Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube are now routinely monitoring and censoring Christian messages online and increasingly finding themselves taking the side of those who persecute Christians.
These are private companies, so there should be an easy fix, right? Well, if Google is helping write the anti-trust laws – that is not certain.
Yes, but Christians could just easily switch to a service that is pro-Christian right?
Apple and Google have partnered together to prevent their platforms from being used to facilitate applications that allow free speech. That means that if you have an Android or Apple product, as are most devices around the world, then you would not be able to use a free speech application that would rival Twitter or Facebook.
They are able to do this by claiming that free speech is equal to hate speech. In fact, Christian teachings equal hate speech.
What is hate speech?
Anything that would go against Islam could be labelled Islamophobic. Anything that would be pro-family values as characterized by the Bible could be labelled as hate speech against homosexuals. Anything that promotes the sanctity of life could be viewed as hate speech against women’s rights.
When social media app GAB was launched as a Christian answer to the increasing censorship of Twitter and Facebook, Apple and Google immediately blocked access to their platforms stating that GAB was a pro-Nazi program used for racism and hate.
Christians, not wanting to be identified with hate and racism, have naturally distanced themselves from any program like GAB and have stayed with Facebook and Twitter.
However, GAB does not seem to be making any deals with the Chinese government at the moment, whereas Facebook, Google, and Apple are standing at the door, appearing ready to sign a deal with the Communist government.
Almost EVERY DAY there is a new Christian group being censored, blocked, or persecuted by Facebook, YouTube, Google, or Apple.
Sometimes it feels like the US government or the UN should step in and do something to limit the power of these giants – but that is the LAST thing that we would want to happen. Mark Zuckerberg is practically begging for the government to step in – why? Because if the government steps in and creates rules, Mr. Zuckerberg knows that his company, Facebook (as well as many like-minded companies and CEOs), would help write those rules. Those new government regulations would not give more free speech, instead they would hand more power to the social media giants to continue running their monopoly.
Exactly 70 years ago George Orwell wrote the bestselling dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The 1949 Orwellian classic has somehow clawed its way to multiple bestseller lists in 2019.
The sudden up-tick of sales of this book is no coincidence. Without a crystal ball or Mayan Calendar, George Orwell wrote an eerily accurate account of a government known as Big Brother that closely monitored its citizens and controlled what they think and everything that they did.
Big Brother used telescreens, fearmongering, media control, and corruption to control the masses.
What is happening to Christians in China today is very similar and large social media giants in the West are following.
Now that people are dependent on social media in China, China has now introduced a social credit score. The social credit score is based on the activities that the Chinese government can see on your account. They look at where you have been, who your friends are, how you spend your free time, how you do at your job and determine a “trust-worthy” score.
This “trust-worthy” score is directly targeting Christians.
If you do things that the government does not like – like go to church or hang out with known Christians – then your score is lowered.
In China, a low score prohibits you from buying plane tickets, train tickets, a passport, restricts your job opportunities, restricts access to medical care, and even keeps your children from getting into school.
Many Chinese Christians today are being evicted from their homes, fired from their jobs, and unfriended on social media because they have low social credit scores.
Like “1984,” China is attempting to social engineer a society that does exactly as the Communist regime desires.
China is not alone. Large social media corporations have been watching China and adopting some of their ideas.
Social media giant Facebook for instance, has admitted to developing their own “trust-worthy” score that is similar to China’s. It is not yet as extreme as China’s, but like China, users that have a pattern of supporting traditional Christian values in terms of the value of life or the nuclear family are finding themselves blocked, removed, or ‘shadow-banned.’
Other nations Between the Walls have been watching and they like how China has been able to use social media to persecute Christians.
Now China is working with the United Nations to implement new facial recognition and surveillance standards connected to social media accounts. This is according to leaked documents obtained by Financial Times.
Chinese companies that have military connections are creating UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) infrastructure for facial recognition, video monitoring, city and vehicle surveillance.
The ITU initiatives in the UN, which comprises nearly 200 member states, are commonly adopted as policy by developing nations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the Chinese government has agreed to supply infrastructure and surveillance tech under its “Belt and Road Initiative.”
Poor nations that want resources from China are more than willing to allow Beijing to take the lead to develop the very technology that has allowed the Communist Party to monitor the movement and activity of underground churches in China.
The Chinese companies that are involved in the UN communications program are obligated by law to submit their plans and data to the government upon request.
This means that it will soon be possible for China and other nations to observe, monitor, and track BTJ missionaries working in other nations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This also means that China and other nations will be able to observe, monitor, and track missionaries of other nationalities (like America, Canada, Brazil, UK, etc) as well.
This is what puts social media in the number one spot. All Christians will be affected by this.
It gets worse.
China is also turning every phone into a monitoring device.
Last September, China issued a requirement to all telecom operators to collect face scans when registering new phone users.
So, when you buy a new phone in China, you will be required to scan your face so that it can be attached to your phone in order to have more accurate monitoring by the Chinese government.
China is already using the monitoring devices to track down and persecute anyone that says things that they do not like.
On December 2nd, a video was posted online by www.infowars.com that showed a man strapped in a metal chair where he was interrogated and disciplined for an unknown amount of time for simply posting unfavorable content about the police.
He posted the comments anonymously, but because of the increased sophistication of China’s monitoring system, the man was quickly identified and arrested. He was then placed in a chair that looked like a mid-evil torture device and interrogated.
Christians who have shared unfavorable information on social media have been blocked from using the Internet, renting apartments, getting jobs, flying on airplanes, obtaining passports, sending their children to university or traveling on public trains.
Now China is helping to write the standards, make the law, and build the infrastructure for the United Nations to do the same?
This does not seem like the best idea.
On December 28, 2019, things took a really bad turn when the United Nations moved to approve a Russian-sponsored and China-backed resolution that aims to create a new convention on cybercrime. These are two nations that restrict web access and use the Internet to identify, track, and persecute Christians.
The resolution was approved by the general assembly by a vote of 79-60, with 33 abstentions.
The resolution establishes an expert committee representing all regions of the world “to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes.”
The list of sponsors for this UN resolution is a who’s who of the most repressive governments in the world that persecute Christians.
2020 might be a year when Christians start to push back and change the direction for social media, but it will not take place without prayer and action.
Because of the power that social media has in their hand, BTJ is hosting an annual hacker’s conference. At the hacker’s conference BTJ is looking for ways to expand the social media site www.dingdash.com and develop new ways for e-commerce.