Todd NettletonTodd Nettleton is the Director of Media and Public Relations for The Voice of the Martyrs and host of VOM Radio. Todd serves as a voice for persecuted Christians, working with the media to tell people in the United States about the faithfulness of Christ’s followers in 60+ nations where they face persecution for wearing His name. During 17 years of service at VOM, Todd has traveled the world to interview hundreds of Christians who’ve endured persecution in more than 20 nations. He has been interviewed more than 2,250 times by various media outlets, including CNN, The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, the BBC, Moody Broadcast Network, Christian Broadcasting Network, Newsweek, The Voice of America, Mission Network News and Trinity Broadcasting Network. Todd and his wife, Charlotte, have two college-aged sons. In his spare time, Todd enjoys reading, writing, music, travel and sports, including serving as commissioner of a fantasy football league. In 2015 he ran his first half-marathon.
Jesus warned His followers to expect scorn, hatred, discrimination and mockery at the hands of a world that hated Him and His message of confession, repentance and reconciliation to God through through faith in Him as the Savior. Certainly, believers in nations such as China, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia face some of the worst of the backlash of hatred against Jesus while here in the Western world we live relatively unscathed – as of now.
But has this been gradually changing right under our noses, and what can we expect in the coming years?
Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs gives us an update on the growing persecution of Christians around the world, how we can pray, and how we can support them. Here are some of the points Todd shared and elaborated on during todays program:
- SUDAN: Four Christians have been on trial in Sudan for the past several months. Three are Sudanese, one is a Czech aid worker.
- Good news: earlier this month charges were DISMISSED against one of the four, and he was released to go home to his family.
- Bad news: the other three are still on trial. We are expecting a verdict soon.
- Bad news, part 2: Last week the Obama Administration announced that they are ending economic sanctions against Sudan, even as they leave Sudan on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. (There is one sliver of hope here, which I can get into tomorrow.)
- CHINA: Pastor Yang Hua was sentenced earlier this month to 30 months in prison. He was the co-pastor and church planter of a church that had grown from 20 people in 2009 to more than 700 people today.
- China part 2: I was in China late last year and had the chance to meet with one of our Bible distribution partners (VOM is distributing Bibles in every province of China). He shared a great story about the first time he got arrested for his Christian work, that I’d like to pass along.
- China Part 3: Church leaders in China told us that they are awaiting new national “religious affairs” directives early this year (expected February or March) that could be the launch of a significant national crackdown on the church there. They are already preparing their leaders and their groups to become more decentralized and less publicly visible.
- TURKEY: An American gospel worker has been in jail in Turkey since October, accused of being part of a “terrorist organization.” The case is based on the testimony of a “secret informant” so he can’t really challenge whoever his accuser is.
- Turkey Part 2: Turkey is currently under an “emergency powers” order after the coup there, a situation that was just extended by Parliament. So basically right now turkey’s government can do anything they want and there really isn’t a pathway to appeal the decision. Thousands of people have been arrested since the coup attempt—judges, teachers, police—as the government has used the opportunity to go after its political opponents. Scary time for Turkey, and for Christians there.
- ALGERIA: a Christian man in Algeria was sentenced to one year in prison for “blasphemy.” The good news, I guess, is that his original sentence was five years, but was reduced by an appeals court.
- VOM Radio: this weekend we’ve got a really interesting conversation with an American who is living and working openly in Pakistan. He’s a college professor, and sees an amazing openness among his students.