Open Doors USA, an advocacy group for the persecuted church, yesterday released its “World Watch List” at an event at the National Press Club.

Sadly, predictions about 2015 had come true—persecution of Christians increased on every continent in the last year. While much of the attention is on radical Islam—which is sure to blame—perennial offenders (like #1 North Korea) continue to make a deadly impact with their incredibly repressive state-sponsored persecution.

The ten worst nations for persecution of Christians throughout 2015 were:

  • North Korea
  • Iraq
  • Eritrea
  • Afghanistan
  • Syria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Iran
  • Libya

The glum news was tempered by an encouraging story from a Kenyan widow, who recounted her moment of decision after finding out her evangelist husband had been killed. She said, “I decided to forgive,” because “I had to continue living.” Such a simple idea—yet one incredibly difficult to live out at times—encapsulates the importance of grasping our Lord Jesus’s admonition for all of us in this modern era, wherever we are:

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)