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The living conditions for Christians and other religious minorities around the world are worsening due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a watchdog group that operates in more than 60 countries.
Open Doors reports that at least 25 countries with positive cases are among the world's worst persecutors of Christians.
“Their situation is going from bad to worse,” David Curry, CEO of Open Doors, said in a statement.
“In places like North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan, Christians are already seen as second-class citizens, traitors, and infidels," Curry added. "Now, as COVID-19 ravages the health and livelihoods of all people in these countries, Christians are especially in need of emergency relief."
In the countries where Christians are persecuted, they are more likely to experience discrimination when seeking basic provisions, like food and medical care.
Open Doors reports that economic discrimination is the second-most common form of persecution toward men in the Middle East and North Africa, and with significant job losses and the loss of support, many are even more vulnerable than before.
Open Doors is mobilizing existing local emergency relief networks in the countries where it operates, as well as providing Bibles, discipleship training and trauma care to Christians in need.
“As many churches worldwide are canceling services or holding them online, more Christians are experiencing what it’s like to worship in isolation," Curry said. "In this newfound reality, Christians in the United States have a unique opportunity to connect with the ongoing experience of persecuted Christians who are worshipping in secret.”
Open Doors has been going live on social media every day with church leaders to share spiritual encouragement and prayer requests from the persecuted believers.