East-West’s ministry focus is on multiplying disciples in unreached and in restricted access countries. We’ve shared some about what it means to be unreached, and now we’re going to help you understand “restricted access” a little better.
Restricted Access: characterized by heavy persecution due to political tyranny and/or religious oppression
Restricted access basically means that Christianity (or any religion except for the majority religion) is unwelcome. According to Pew Research Center, 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restriction. This means that in most of the world those choosing to leave their old faith for a new, true faith in Jesus Christ could experience consequences on several levels.
- Social: Family members or friends may disown, harm, or pressure believers to return to their old faith.
- Economic: Believers could lose their jobs or lose customers because they chose a different spiritual path.
- Political: Some nations have made it illegal to evangelize or to convert from the national religion. If you do, you could be sent to labor camps, imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, or sentenced to death.
- Extremist: Other nations are filled with extremists of other religions (Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc.) who threaten violence or perform acts of violence such as beatings or burning down homes or churches to prevent the spread of the gospel.
According to Open Doors USA, there are over 65 nations where Christians face heavy persecution, and each year they publish the World Watch List that ranks the top 50 nations by the severity of persecution taking place there. On this map, you’ll see much of the Middle East, some Africa, and much of Asia as the main areas of suffering.
So what can you do?
The apostle Paul told us this:
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. —1 Corinthians 12:26
When one believer suffers, we all suffer. We should not neglect our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world that may take their lives in their hands each day that they choose to stand for what they believe in. So here are a few ways that you can support the persecuted church around the world.
- You can pray for those in restricted access nations to find strength to face persecution and spread the gospel despite the opposition.
- You can go to spread the gospel in a restricted access nation so that more lives would be changed, eventually resulting in more peace.
- You can give to support ministries working to spread the gospel in those nations or to provide hope and relief to the believers there.
For more information about persecution or the persecuted church, visit: