An intentional strategy is being done to weaken, silence, or completely erase the Christian population from some parts of the world.
According to Christian Today, one of the key findings in The Church on the Run: Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and Refugee Report 2022 by charity Open Doors stated, "While displacement is sometimes perceived as an unintentional by-product of persecution, in many instances, it is intentional and can be part of a wider strategy to completely eradicate Christianity from the village, region or country. In some instances, the strategy is overt and public, in others it is covert and informal,"
The common drivers of displacement for persecuted Christians or "converts" are family pressure, which is topmost, followed by state or government agents pressure, local community pressure, and then violent religious groups.
Real-Life Stories Of Persecution And Displacement
The report explained that the family unit "can withhold basics for survival, such as food or shelter and can threaten their physical safety with violence or death threats when a member converts to Christianity." A young man became a believer in Uzbekistan and immediately encountered strong persecution and harassment from his family that he decided to fly to Russia, where he is now working, part of a church, and studying the Bible. He has no plans of telling his family where he is because he is sure that they will seek him out and punish him.
There was also a story in the report about a 47-year-old Iranian pastor who was forced to get away with his family after local authorities were constantly harassing them. Their home was raided in January 2021, where Bibles, mobile phones, and other personal possessions were confiscated.
This was then followed by a summon for the pastor to be questioned, where he was interrogated for eight straight hours and threatened to serve in prison for a long time. More so, Christian pastors and their families were also forced to leave their homes in India after "intense" harassment from their local community. Condemned for allegedly forcing others to be converted, "they were arrested, physically attacked and threatened over their church activities," which led them to no other option but to flee.
Christians in northern Mali and neighboring countries, on the other hand, received and faced an onslaught of threats from radical Islamists.
The report also cited that there are cases where the common drivers of persecution get to influence one another. It was said that there were instances when a family forces a convert to leave home because of the fear of what the government or the local community can do to them.
Iraq was an example of this situation, which was once a community flourishing with over one million Christians but has now plummeted to 166,000. "Everyone is slowly leaving. It happens quietly, but it is happening every day. People pack up their things, lock their doors, and leave behind their entire lives," narrated one Iraqi refugee.
Persecution Chases Them Even After Leaving The Country
Another heartbreaking finding revealed that even when they flee, persecution follows Christian converts anywhere they go.
"In their new "homes" they can be singled out, being denied basic aid or face attack from other displaced communities. This happens whilst they are already processing severe trauma from their initial displacement", as reported by Premier Christian News.
Further, Rachel Morley, a specific religious persecution analyst for Open Doors, proclaimed, "We found that religion and religious identity can mean that Christian IDPs and refugees carry an extra layer of vulnerability. The thing which is most concerning from the report is that at every stage of the displacement journey, whether that be when a Christian is deciding to leave, or whether they're in a camp or an urban setting, religious persecution can manifest at every stage or in any place."
Christians identified their religious identity, whether sole or contributory, as the reason why they are displaced from their homes in 58 of the top 76 World Watch List countries, an annual ranking report by Open Doors of countries where Christians suffer most because of their faith, the report also stated.
Morley disclosed in an interview with Premier Christian News that the "strategic" displacement of Christians is seen starkly in Iraq and Nigeria. She went on to say that over the past decade, there have been "thousands and thousands of Christians being deliberately uprooted from a specific area or lands" in Iraq, which is an Islamic state, while in Northern Nigeria, "multiple Islamic extremist groups have made it their goal to remove Christians."