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CHINA

Country Profile

Population: 1,355,692,576 (July 2014 est.)

Religion (%): Buddhist (18.2), Christian (5.1), Muslim (1.8), folk religion (21.9), other (0.8), unaffiliated (52.2)

Leader: President XI Jinping

Government type: Communist state
More Christians have been and continue to be detained in China than in any other country. The government officially recognises five religious groups: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestant and Catholic. It strictly controls the Church through the state-monitored Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA). During the Cultural Revolution, even these submissive structures were banned, and all religious activity was forced underground, giving birth to the house-church movement.

Today, there is much debate related to the current number of Chinese Christians, as the government releases only data from TSPM or CPA churches. While the government says there are officially 28.6 million Christians, experts estimate the real number to lie somewhere between 80 and 130 million.

ERITREA

ERITREA

 Country Profile

Location: Eastern Africa

Population: 6,380,803 (July 2014 est.)

Religion (%): Muslim (50.2), Christian (47.3)

Leader: President Isaias Afworki

Government type: Transitional government

Nearly 2000 Eritrean Christians are now believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs, held in police stations, military camps and prisons in various locations across Eritrea. Jailed Evangelical Christians are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs.

INDONESIA

INDONESIA

Country Profile

Category: Hostile
Major Religions: Muslim 80%, Christian 12.9%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam
Leader: President Joko Widodo

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, is the world’s third most populous democracy and the largest Muslim-majority nation. It continues to struggle with poverty and corruption.

Life for Christians
Though it has a reputation for tolerance, discrimination against religious minorities has increased. Local authorities close churches based on the retroactive enforcement of a law that requires the approval of 60 nearby residents before a church can be established. Though the rule is supposed to apply to new construction, it has been used repeatedly against long-established churches. Religious freedom is legally protected, but Christians often face discrimination from the Muslim majority. New converts face community harassment and family pressure.

VOM Work
VOM is assisting Christian refugees with basic needs and medical care. We are distributing Bibles and helping train Bible school students who will go into ministry in Muslim areas.

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IRAN

IRAN

 Country Profile

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Islam 98.7%, Christianity 0.8%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam
Leader: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khamenei

Islamic clerics assumed power under the ayatollah in 1979. The nation became an Islamic republic under Shia Islam. Today, the country is divided between moderates and hardliners.

Life for Christians
Iran remains one of the most difficult nations in the world in which to be a Christian. Since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, the number of individuals in prison because of their beliefs has increased, and Christians are especially targeted. Over the past year, Iranian authorities have raided church services, threatened church members and arrested and imprisoned worshipers and church leaders, particularly Christian converts from Islam. Currently, there are approximately 90 Christians either in prison or awaiting trial.

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CUBA

CUBA

 Country Profile

 

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Christianity 56.2%, Non-religious 23.1%
Prevalent Ideology: Communism
Leader: President Gen. Raul Castro Ruz

The withdrawal of Soviet aid in 1990 caused an economic downturn in Cuba, resulting in the rationing of energy, food and consumer goods.

Life for Christians
Churches and other religious communities are required to undergo an invasive registration process with the Ministry of Justice. Restrictive laws as well as government-authorized surveillance and harassment allow the government to limit and monitor religious practice. Individual churches are prevented from maintaining their own finances, and any community deemed too independent of government control is targeted for harassment, such as fines, mob attacks, destruction of property and short-term arrests of leaders.

MOROCCO

MOROCCO

 Country Profile

 

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Islam 99.6%, Christianity 0.2%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam
Leader: King Mohammed VI

The Kingdom of Morocco is known as the “Arab West.” Its rich culture is a blend of Arab, Berber, European and African influences.

Life for Christians
Though all citizens are considered Muslim, Christian leaders estimate that there are 4,000 citizens, perhaps more, who regularly attend secret house churches. Conversion is not illegal, but converts can be prosecuted for “shaking the beliefs” of a Muslim and sentenced to prison for up to three years. Those found guilty of proselytism or converting others also face criminal punishment or expulsion from the country.

All religious activity must be registered with the government. Violators are commonly fined for distributing religious texts, discussing religion or holding worship meetings. Some church leaders protest these laws by refusing to pay fines. This has resulted in numerous police raids, confiscation of property, prison sentences and prohibition from travel outside the region.

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NORTH KOREA

NORTH KOREA

Country Profile

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Juche 99.5%, Christian 1.5%
Prevalent Ideology: Juche/Communism
Leader: Kim Jong Un

North Korea remains one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and is among the worst violators of human rights.

Life for Christians
The state religion of Juche requires absolute obedience to the Kim family. Those who engage in Christian activities are subject to arrest, torture, imprisonment and sometimes execution. Those sent to labor camps are forced to work long hours with little food, water or rest. Though the country boasts of its churches, they are used mainly for propaganda purposes.

VOM Work
VOM sponsors balloon launches of gospel tracts and Bibles. We also support a training program to help defectors integrate into South Korean society.

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PAKISTAN

PAKISTAN

 Country Profile

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Islam 98.9%, Christianity 0.7%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam
Leader: President Mamnoon Hussain

Pakistan was created to provide an independent homeland for Indian Muslims. The country struggles with widespread corruption and Taliban-linked militants.

Life for Christians
Christians in Pakistan are often marginalized. They have few educational opportunities, and many live in poverty. They are beaten, raped, abducted and murdered, but the government rarely investigates or brings their attackers to justice. Suicide bombers have targeted several churches, killing and wounding hundreds. The county’s blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and many have been killed as a result of accusations.

VOM Work
VOM supports Bible distributions, evangelistic outreaches and discipleship programs as well as providing medical, practical and spiritual assistance to imprisoned Christians, families of martyrs and front-line workers.

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TAJIKISTAN

TAJIKISTAN

Country Profile

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Islam 95.5%, Christian 1.3%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam/Communism
Leader: President Emomali Rahmon

Tajikistan is the poorest of the former Soviet states and still suffers from the effects of a civil war in the 1990s. A third of the population is under age 14.

Life for Christians
Most of the country’s 150,000 Christians are Russian Orthodox, but there are also Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans and Korean Protestants. The government must approve the production, importation, export, sale and distribution of all religious materials. Religious groups must be registered, and unregistered religious activity is a crime. It is illegal and difficult for Christian parents to provide a biblical education for their children.

VOM Work
VOM helps several widows and also provides local churches with tools and materials for evangelism.

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TURKEY

TURKEY

Country Profile

Category: Hostile
Major Religions: Islam 96.5%, Christianity 0.3%
Prevalent Ideology: Islam
Leader: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

This secular republic is now ruled by an Islamic party, and some are concerned by the growing authoritarianism of the prime minister. Turks are proud of their culture and history.

Life for Christians
Turkey remains one of the least evangelized countries in the world. More than a century of missionary work has yielded little fruit. Active Christians face hardships ranging from job loss to physical violence and even death. All religious communities are subject to state controls, which limit the right to own places of worship, train clergy and offer religious instruction.

VOM Work
VOM supports front-line workers who share the gospel throughout Turkey, including the remote eastern frontier. We also provide ministries with tools like Bibles and digital media with Christian resources.

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VIETNAM

VIETNAM

Country Profile

Category: Restricted
Major Religions: Buddhism 55.9%, Christian 9.5%
Prevalent Ideology: Communism
Leader: President Truong Tan Sang

Vietnam is a one-party Communist state. It is a major manufacturing center and a growing consumer market.

Life for Christians
The government controls all religious activities. Religious organizations are required to register, and Christians and churches face land confiscations. In particular, minority groups face government harassment. Pastors and churches are subject to arrest, interrogation and beatings. Local authorities in rural areas target new believers for especially harsh treatment, including village expulsion.

VOM Work
VOM trains hundreds of Christian leaders and supports tribal pastors in remote villages.

RELEASED PRISONERS and UPDATES

We praise God for the release of these prisoners. Click on a profile to read the update on them

UPDATES ON PRISONERS:

Click on a profile to read the update on them

Ps. Andrew Brunson Released!

Christians in Turkey and around the world are praising God for the release of Andrew Brunson from Turkish captivity. While the charges were not dropped, the court ruled on October 12th that he should be released for good behaviour and time served. He was allowed to...

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New Prisoner – Pastor John Cao | China

On March 5, 2017, police arrested Cao San-Qiang (John Cao), a Chinese pastor known for his work among Myanmar’s poor. Authorities charged Pastor Cao with “organizing illegal crossings of national borders” and, one year later, sentenced him to seven years...

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Nguyen Trung Ton | Vietnam 

(Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, VOM Canada, Geneva Summit)  Protestant pastor and freedom of religion activist Nguyen Trung Ton, was arrested on July 30, 2017 at his home in Thanh Hoa. On April 5, 2018 Pastor Ton, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for...

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Prisoner Update: Pastor Bakhrom, Tajikistan

Write to the Kholmatov family with encouragement:   Source: PrisonerAlert, Forum 18  In January 2017 Pastor Bakhrom's wife, Gulnora was admitted to hospital after travelling to visit her husband. She suddenly felt ill and was taken to hospital before she was able to...

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Praise God! Ps. Andrew Brunson Moved To House Arrest

While Ps Andrew Brunson is still not allowed to leave Turkey, he HAS been moved out of prison to house arrest. We praise God for this and thank you for all your prayers for Andrew and family - via World Watch Monitor The US pastor Andrew Brunson is being moved from...

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Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh | Iran

Christian Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was arrested on 24 June 2016 when 30 intelligence police agents raided an engagement party at a house in the Andisheh township of Karaj, near Tehran. Everyone present was detained, including three visiting Azeri Christians from Baku,...

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Lacheng Ren Released On Bail

Lacheng Ren Released On Bail VOM contacts heard Lacheng Ren was released on bail in early 2017. However, "he rarely communicates with anyone due to severe restraint and his hurt." Please continue to pray for...

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Pastor Yang Hua Released!

Imprisoned pastor Yang Hua has returned to his home in Guizhou province on June 19th after suffering mistreatment during his two-and-a-half-year jail term. Yang was first imprisoned on December 9th, 2015, after police raided Living Stone Church. He was charged with...

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Nguyen Van Dai – Released!

Protestant church leader and lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and a fellow member of the Brotherhood for Democracy were released from prison on June 7. and immediately put on a plane from Hanoi for Germany, according to members of his banned group and an exile pro-democracy...

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RELEASED – Pastor Oqbamichel Haiminot

Pastor Oqbamichel Haiminot Released - May 2018 VOM has just received confirmation that Pastor Oqbamichel Haiminot (also spelled Okbamichael) has been released. VOM contacts say he is in need of medical...

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