12Last year’s rank
19 365 000Christians
603 000Main Religion
Syria has risen three places on this year’s World Watch List mainly because of an increase in violent persecution. Years of conflict and instability have created an environment in which persecution flourish with impunity.
In the few areas controlled by Islamic militants, church leaders are particularly targeted for kidnap or attack since they have greater public visibility. This is designed to intimidate the Christian community. Most church buildings have either been demolished or repurposed as Islamic centres. Public expressions of Christian faith are prohibited, and church buildings cannot be repaired or restored. Even in government-controlled areas, evangelism and converting to Christianity are seen as a threat to social stability and are therefore heavily suppressed.
Believers from a Muslim Background experience particular pressure from their families and communities because their conversion is seen as a slight to the family’s honour. Converts are at risk of being expelled from their families or worse.
In northern Syria, religious minorities (including Christians) are persecuted by Turkish forces and associated Islamic militias. They have been attacked, murdered, kidnapped and raped. Many religious sites have also been seriously damaged.
Meet Pastor Edward
“It’s a prolonged crisis, without seeing an end. We had positive and negative experiences. There were painful situations, people got killed, injured. On the other hand, we experienced divine light amid darkness.”
Pastor Edward, who runs a Centre of Hope in Syria.
Thank God that, despite the dangers, brave Christians remain certain of their faith in Jesus, and are being salt and light in their communities.
For peace and stability. Pray that the government will have wisdom to stabilise the economy and that soaring inflation rates will fall.
For Centres of Hope restoring hope to war-weary people. Pray for ongoing financial provision and that the workers will be reenergised to give help and compassion to those in need.
How does Open Doors support our family in Syria?
Open Doors partners strengthen the Church in Syria through Bible distribution, discipleship and leadership training, trauma counselling, relief aid and practical support for internally displaced people, and Centres of Hope, which support Syrian Christians and their communities.