As coronavirus numbers continue to climb worldwide, one Christian organization serving the persecuted Church says the COVID-19 outbreak is putting Christians at higher risk globally as their living conditions rapidly worsen.
Open Doors CEO David Curry – whose nonprofit group serves persecuted Christians in more than 60 nations – says believers who were already living under affliction are seeing their lives become even more difficult as non-Christian governments continue to implement restrictions to curb the outbreak.
"Their situation is going from bad to worse," Curry warns in a press release last week. "In places like North Korea, Iran and Pakistan, Christians are already seen as second-class citizens, traitors and infidels. Now, as COVID-19 ravages the health and livelihoods of all people in these countries, Christians are especially in need of emergency relief."
Coronavirus brings double trouble for believers
Half of the 50 nations on the list of the planet’s most dangerous places to be a Christian are being plagued by the coronavirus. Consequently, believers in those countries are now more hard-pressed than ever.
“Twenty-five of the countries currently reporting cases of COVID-19 are on Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List, indicating they are among the world's worst persecutors of Christians,” Open Doors reports. “In many of these countries, Christians are more likely to experience discrimination when seeking basic provisions and medical care. They are often denied food and healthcare, making them more susceptible to disease. These limitations are magnified in a time of crisis-induced scarcity.”
Already being at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to employment and the ability to find work, Christians in coronavirus-struck nations are experiencing a double whammy.
“[E]conomic discrimination is the second-most prevalent form of persecution toward men in the Middle East and North Africa,” the Christian ministry adds. “As a result, many Christians in the region are forced into low-paid jobs due to religious discrimination. The coronavirus crisis has caused significant job loss, leaving many of them without income.”
New Christians coming from other religions such as Islam and Hinduism are also being ostracized, which further compounds their current problems – especially when it comes to essential needs.
“Additionally, those who convert to Christianity from other faiths are disowned by their families, leaving them without a support system,” Open Doors explains. “The result is a large number of people in urgent need of food, shelter and medical care.”
Extending a helping hand
Besides providing persecuted Christians resources to build their faith, Open Doors assists Christians in dozens of countries who are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
“Open Doors is responding by mobilizing existing local emergency relief networks in the more than 60 countries where Christians suffer as a direct result of their faith,” the evangelistic team reports from the field. “Open Doors also continues to provide Bibles, discipleship training and trauma care to Christians in need.”
As fellowship becomes more and more difficult – if not impossible – around the world because of COVID-19 and government orders to not meet in places of worship, maintaining one’s Christian walk in solitude is becoming more prevalent.
"As many churches worldwide are cancelling services or holding them online, more Christians are experiencing what it's like to worship in isolation,” Curry explains. “In this newfound reality, Christians in the United States have a unique opportunity to connect with the ongoing experience of persecuted Christians who are worshiping in secret."
On a daily basis, Open Doors holds social media livestreams with church leaders who share spiritual encouragement and prayer requests from persecuted Christians so that isolated believers across the world are given new hope to strengthen their faith in these trying times.