(Photo: The Christian Post)
WASHINGTON – A human rights activist with more than 25 years' experience in ministering to persecuted Christians said Tuesday that many Christians are "ignorant" of the extent of persecution globally.
Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMilan, chief strategy officer for Open Doors International, told The Christian Post that the church in America and elsewhere should spread greater awareness of what is happening to Christians in many parts of the world.
"I think the key thing though is that the church needs to get its story out to the worldwide church better," said Boyd-MacMilan. "There are still far too many Christians in the world that are either just ignorant or even deliberately so of the true extent of Christian persecution."
Boyd-MacMilan also told CP that he felt that "we can get out our story better, that there are literally hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who cannot exercise their freedom of worship."
His remarks came as he was one of two featured speakers at a press conference on Tuesday morning sponsored by Open Doors at the First Amendment Lounge of the National Press Club. There were two major themes of the event: first was the release of Open Doors' annual "World Watch List" which ranks the countries where persecution of Christians is severest.
According to the list, for the eleventh consecutive year, the Communist dictatorship of North Korea ranked number 1.
A majority of the nations on the list were predominantly Muslim countries and have been noted for being strongly influenced by Islamic extremism. For example, Afghanistan ranked at 3, Egypt at 25, Iran at 8, Pakistan at 14, Saudi Arabia at 2, Somalia at 5, and Yemen at 9.
To form the list, Open Doors created a methodology that focused on all spheres of life, as well as both acts of violence and structural nonviolent restrictions on Christian populations.
"The annual World Watch List has raised awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians for many years," said Open Doors USA interim President and CEO Steve Ridgway in a statement.
"It is important to get this information out to the public so it can look beyond the headlines and be a voice for those who are often voiceless in places such as North Korea, Syria and Somalia."
The other theme of the event was the publication of the book The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken, who has years of experience working alongside churches in the developing world.
Ripken told The Christian Post about how the sources of persecution are examples of "evil unmasked."
"And evil can have a free market economy face or a Muslim face or whatever kind of face it has evil wants to do two things." said Ripken. "It wants to deny you access to Jesus [and] it wants to keep you from sharing your faith."
Ripken also told CP that western churches do harm to those abroad "when we ourselves keep quiet and keep our faith to ourselves."
"Each day, myself personally, I can decide whether or not to identify with my brothers and sisters who are in chains or I can identify with those who have chained them," said Ripken.
"When … the church keeps its faith static and keep it to themselves, they are identifying themselves with those who chain believers rather than those in chains."