Jesus told His followers that the world hate them (John 15:18-19), so it’s no surprise that people who wear His name around the world are still being persecuted in our day. Many of these Christian brothers and sisters remain anonymous to the world, known only to the Father they serve and suffer for.
Some of these believers and their stories, however, rise to the consciousness (and hopefully prayer lists) of Christians around the world, and even to the pages of major newspapers and airwaves of national news broadcasts.
Here are 10 important stories of Christian persecution that reached that level in the past 10 years:
10. ISIS establishment of a 'Caliphate' where Christians weren’t welcome
When ISIS began to control territory in 2014 and establish its so-called caliphate, Christian homes and businesses were marked with the nuun symbol, the Arabic-letter-N for “Nazarene” that signified followers of Jesus.
Traditional Christians were offered the choice to flee and forfeit their homes or pay a jizya subjugation tax and remain in the caliphate. Former Muslim converts to Christianity were also given two choices: return to Islam immediately or be killed. Tens of thousands of Christians fled their homes in Iraq and Syria, moving to camps within their nation or in surrounding nations. Many of those are still trying to recover and put their lives back together.
At the height of the ISIS onslaught, I interviewed an Iraqi pastor. As we finished our conversation I asked him how American Christians could pray. I won’t ever forget his first request: “Pray that God will call Christians to stay here.” There were so many good and logical reasons to flee. Many of his church members had left for Europe or North America. But he was asking us to pray that some Christians would feel called to stay and to continue Gospel outreach in their nation.
Todd Nettleton is the host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio, a weekly half-hour program heard on 1000+ radio stations and by podcast listeners around the world. Todd has served with The Voice of the Martyrs for 21 years and speaks regularly at VOM Advance Conferences. He has traveled to more than 20 restricted and hostile nations and interviewed hundreds of believers who faced persecution for their Christian witness. He is the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea and was part of the writing team for four other VOM books.