Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was imprisoned in Turkey, is set to be a keynote speaker at this year’s March for the Martyrs.
Pastor Brunson is an evangelical pastor who lived in Turkey for 25 years and ran a small Presbyterian church in the city of Izmir, near the Agean Sea. Pastor Brunson and his wife, Norine, also ministered to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
In October 2016, Pastor Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities who accused him of espionage, helping terrorist organizations and aiding in Turkey’s failed 2016 coup. He was facing up to 35 years in prison for these charges, the BBC reported. Pastor Brunson consistently denied the charges made against him.
“Let it be clear,’ Pastor Brunson wrote from prison in 2018. “I am in prison not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am—a Christian pastor. I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me.”
The American pastor was held in a number of Turkish prisons for two years. In one instance, he was crammed in an 8-person cell with 21 other inmates, according to USCIRF.
“My two years in prison were marked by what I would call the silence of God, and not having any sense of His presence” Pastor Brunson reflected in an interview with Open Doors. “Because my past experience with Him was really rich, to have that intimacy removed led to a fence around my heart toward God. Woundedness. I was the only Christian in prison, and the only Christian I had any contact with throughout my two years was Norine. So I was very alone, isolated in my faith. I prayed for peace so much. I did not feel much peace. Grace was taking me through, but finding strength, determination, peace and joy was actually much more difficult than I expected.”
The United States imposed sanctions on members of Turkey’s government to release the pastor. The Trump administration reportedly secured a deal in October 2018 with Turkey for Pastor Brunson’s release, NBC News reported. Days later, two years after his arrest, Pastor Brunson was brought before a hearing and was officially convicted of aiding terrorist groups. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but the court allowed the jail time he had already served, plus good behavior, to fulfill his sentence.
Pastor Brunson was finally free.
He and his wife returned to the United States where he has become a prolific speaker on Christian persecution. Pastor Brunson authored a book titled God’s Hostage: A True Story About Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance, detailing his experience and how his time in prison caused him to wrestle with his faith.
We’re so excited to have Pastor Andrew Brunson as a keynote speaker this year. Register now for this year’s March for the Martyrs in Washington, D.C., and stand in solidarity with the Persecuted Church.
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Photo: Pastor Andrew Brunson outside his trial in Turkey. (Screenshot from YouTube via France24)