GlobalRize has brought out the new ranking list of the unreached for 2022. It consists of the 16 countries* where less than one percent of the population is Christian. In most of these countries, Islam is the dominant religion, many of them are Arabic and most of the countries are struggling with great internal problems.
The two countries where the Christian population is the lowest are Afghanistan and Somalia, where just 0.02% of the population is Christian. Almost all of the countries on the list are Islamic. The only exception is North Korea, which is in tenth place. These countries combined have more than 600 million residents. About a quarter of these people speak Arabic, a quarter Bengali, a quarter speak Turkish or Farsi and the remaining quarter speak smaller languages.
In the countries on the list, the Christians experience more difficulties than the rest of the population because of their faith. All the countries in the top five on the list of persecuted Christians from Open Doors also appear on GlobalRize’s list of unreached: Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
Only the local population
The list of unreached countries is dominated by the Arabic world: eight of the sixteen countries on the list are Arabic. This shows how predominant Islam is in the Arabic world. In all these countries, there has been a large Christian presence. In the course of history it has been reduced further and further. That process is still going on. For example: In Iraq, the number of Christians is down to 0.04%. That was 1.6% in 2010.
There would be even more Arabic countries on the list if only the local population was counted. In every country, such as Saudi Arabia, there is a pretty high percentage of Christians due to immigrants who live there permanently. At the same time, the Arabic population is Muslim, almost without exception. In recent years, house churches have been formed in the Arabic world where Christians can come who have a Muslim background. But it still is such a small number that it has little influence on the total percentage of Christians in the Arabic world.
Countries with problems
It is striking how many of the countries on the list of unreached have large internal problems. It is clear to see in the top 3 of the list. Afghanistan has come under Taliban power again last year. There are more than 2 million Afghan refugees and, within the country itself, three million people have fled their homes. Somalia is notorious as a country where there has not been an effective government for a long time, leading to the status of a lawless country. And in Yemen there has been a civil war going on for years that has cost 400,000 lives up until now.
The Gospel for unreached countries
When there are so few Christians in a country, and they are also severely limited in their ability to hold church services, the vast majority of the population does not even have the choice to become a Christian. Eighteen organizations in the Netherlands have formed the coalition #NoChoice in order to bring attention to this problem. They are committed to telling the Gospel to the unreached. Frontiers, Pioneers and WEC are sending workers to countries from the list of unreached. And GlobalRize, Jesus.net and Trans World Radio use media and internet to bring the Gospel to people who are otherwise not (or hardly) reachable.
*The ranking list is limited to countries with a population of more than one million.
GlobalRize presented the first ranking list of the least reached countries in 2021. That ranking was based on absolute numbers of unreached. India was in the number one position. This year it was approached from a different perspective, using percentage of Christians per land. In a five year cycle, there will be new means of bringing attention to the countries where the least amount of people is reached with the Gospel. This manner of working was chosen because there are no trustworthy numbers provided each year about the amount of Christians in any given country or people group. GlobalRize is involved in different countries to set up national databases that can map out the unreached as well as possible.