The days of freedom of religion are still non-existent in many parts of the world, and the number of devoted Christians who gave their lives for their faith proves this very fact. According to the non-denominational group, Open Doors USA, the numbers of deaths reported from martyrs have almost doubled in 2013 from the year prior.
In 2012, it was reported that 1,201 Christians were killed for their devout faith. A year later, the number astoundingly increased to a total of 2,123. The same report by Open Doors USA additionally reports that more than half of the deaths of Christians have occurred in Syria with a total of 1,213 deaths.
Syria was listed among the top four countries where Christian missionaries were killed along with Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt in 2013. However, the same report named North Korea as the number one hazardous country for Christians, now for its twelfth year in a row. An estimated 300,000 Christians occupy North Korea, a country of over 24 million people under the rule of Kim Jong Un.
Open Doors USA have confirmed the following statistics of the multitude of martyrs murdered annually from the past two years. However, the figures may be a small fraction to its accuracy since not all murders are reported. Head researcher Frans Veerman stated that the numbers are "a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm."
The statistics also do not include other Christians who have been prosecuted and held captive for their beliefs in concentration camps throughout the Eastern regions. Open Doors further reported that up to "50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-Un."
The reasons for the killings of Christians and their faith have been many. Christianity has the largest religious following worldwide, with over 2.2 billion proclaimed followers, reports the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The war on Christianity increases due to many influences from Islamic extremists and dictator leaders who have immense support from the majority of the perpetrators. The numbers of these extremist groups continue to rise and the tolerance for Christianity in these countries decreases each year.
"They have to deal with corrupt officials, bad policies, natural disasters, diseases and hunger. On top of that, they must hide their decision to follow Christ," reads the report from Open Door USA. "Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long political prison sentence."
Open Door USA, founded in 1955 from Holland, continues its mission to support persecuted Christians internationally. In 2012, the organization distributed over 2.4 million Bibles and resources to persecuted Christians in 50 countries. Their outreach has advocated for the Word of God in jeopardizing territories that refute the love of Christ and seek to annihilate its followers.