What does persecution look like in Saudi Arabia? What is life like for Christians?
The majority of Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates. Most come from low/middle income countries in Asia and Africa, but there are also some from the Western world.
Besides being exploited and poorly paid, Asian and African workers are regularly exposed to verbal and physical abuse because of their ethnicity and low status, but their Christian faith can also play a role in this. Expatriate Christians are severely restricted in sharing their Christian faith with Muslims and in gathering for worship, which entails the risk of detention and deportation. Consequently, expatriates tend to keep silent about their faith.
The few Saudi Christians from a Muslim background face even more pressure, especially from their families. Expatriate Muslims converting to the Christian faith also face strong persecution, likely similar to the levels they would have experienced in their home country. Whether Saudi or otherwise, most converts are forced to practice their faith in secrecy.
Nevertheless, the small number of Saudi Christians has been slowly increasing, and they are becoming bolder, sharing their faith with others on the internet and via Christian satellite TV channels. Such public action has led to serious repercussions from Saudi families and authorities.
What has changed in Saudi Arabia?
Despite dropping a place, the situation for Christians in Saudi Arabia remains relatively unchanged and still extremely challenging. While there is a slight reduction in reports of violence and family life opposition, there have been marginal increases in pressure elsewhere (that is, pressure in community, national and church life).
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The level of persecution in Saudi Arabia is generally the same all over the country, although social control is likely to be higher in rural areas. A possible exception are Western expatriate compounds where there is less control and pressure to adhere to strict Islamic norms.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians on the Arabian Peninsula?
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organizing prayer, distributing Scripture resources and training believers and pastors.
Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Pray for Saudi Arabia
Pray that the Lord will continue to use the Internet to strengthen and unite believers, and grow the Saudi church.
Pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to both Christians and non-Christians in dreams and visions.
Pray for the protection of all Christians in Saudi Arabia, and for them to be given continued wisdom and discernment as they seek to follow and share Jesus.
Stories from Saudi Arabia
July 13, 2021
Saudi believer facing prison testifies: ‘Because of Christ, we are freed’
July 3, 2021
Saudi Christian wife writes: ‘Your prayers comfort our souls’
June 6, 2021
Believer inside Saudi Arabia calls for prayer for Christian on trial