During his imprisonment and ongoing trial (it was paused and continued four times), Pastor Brunson, his wife Norine and their family were at the center of millions of prayers, numerous news articles, and even tweets and diplomatic efforts from members of the U.S. government. With each development in Brunson’s case, Open Doors mobilized thousands, maybe millions, of prayers for the Brunsons on the Andrew Brunson Prayer Wall on our website and through social media.
We rejoiced at the news of his release—and still do.
But this anniversary is also a stark reminder that thousands of Christians, including many leaders in the church, remain imprisoned for their commitment to follow Jesus. Yet unlike Pastor Brunson, reporters aren’t writing about these believers; politicians aren’t posting about them; and the worldwide Church isn’t praying for them by name.
There are thousands of Andrew Brunsons around the world, imprisoned because they follow Jesus. But their names and stories are virtually unknown.
Because they carry the name of Jesus
In many of the 50 countries on Open Doors’ World Watch List, Christians are arrested and imprisoned for their faith in Christ. At Open Doors, we get almost daily reports from our field that a man, woman or child has been arrested or sentenced because they carry the name of Jesus. Almost every day, we hear of another family that will be forever changed through a parent’s imprisonment.
In many countries, such as Iran, China and North Korea, Christians are considered “political prisoners,” which often carries a longer sentence in brutal conditions. Morad*, a former church leader in Iran, describes his experience in prison; he spent the first week in solitary confinement. His story offers glimpses of the physical brutality and mental isolation that Christians imprisoned for their faith must endure.
“It was just me, the door and three walls,” he says. “Sometimes the guards brought me tea, but they didn’t let me out to go to the bathroom [a torture tactic].”
In the six months he was there, Morad saw 20 people executed. “They announced it through the prison loudspeakers,” he says. “Some of them had been in my cell; it was heartbreaking to see the fear of death in their eyes. Prison was a terrible, terrible place.”
While it’s impossible to introduce you to all of the persecuted Christians either in prison or awaiting trial today, we wanted to tell you about a few who represent thousands of believers. Because of where they live and that country’s laws or cultural mores, they have been hunted and jailed.