Turkey (MNN) – Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor who had been living and serving in Turkey, recently spent his second Christmas and birthday imprisoned in the country. Brunson was imprisoned October 7, 2016.
Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton shares: “He went into prison as a 48-year-old, he is now a 50-year-old. My heart goes out to him with the frustration of him being locked up. He hasn’t had a trial yet. His lawyer hasn’t even been allowed to see all the so-called evidence against him yet.”
These things, Nettleton says, make it hard to know what will move Brunson’s case forward. Furthermore, Nettleton also notes concerns that the Turkish government is holding Brunson as a bargaining tool for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen.
Gülen is an Islamic cleric currently residing in Pennsylvania in the United States. He’s been accused by Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of being responsible for the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Turkey has been pressing the U.S. to extradite Gülen back to his home country to face trial and charges there. “They have openly talked about, ‘Hey, we have Andrew Brunson—an American. You have Fethullah Gülen. What if we worked out a trade?’” Nettleton explains. The U.S. government has refused to comply.
And the effects of imprisonment are beginning to take its toll on Brunson and his family.
“His wife is separated from him, outside the prison, working for his release,” Nettleton shares. “His children have had life events, have had a wedding and have had a graduation while he has been imprisoned. So, it’s just a frustrating situation. At the same time, we know God works in frustrating situations.”
Lonely, But Not Alone
Brunson’s wife recently released a letter from Brunson expressing his gratitude and fears. Brunson is aware of his brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to pray for him. Nettleton says this is something all Christians should be praying for; that God would supernaturally remind Brunson that he’s not forgotten or alone. Nettleton shares;
“The comparison I make, I have two brothers—two blood brothers—and if one of them was in jailed unjustly and being harassed or persecuted, you wouldn’t have to remind me to pray for them…
Well, [he] is our brother. Andrew Brunson is our brother.
We shouldn’t have to be sort of nagged or reminded to pray for him and to speak out on his behalf.”
Prayers and Advocacy
So please, pray for Brunson’s perseverance. Brunson has shared in previously released letters how his days are long and hard. He doesn’t understand why he continues to be imprisoned.
And ask God to encourage Brunson. Pray that he wouldn’t be frustrated, but that he would trust that God has a plan. Pray for him to have opportunities to witness and to lead other prisoners to Christ while he’s there.
Please also pray for Brunson to see God at work and feel his presence.
Nettleton also encourages all Christians to use their voice by calling or writing their congressmen and senators and remind them that Andrew Brunson, an American, is being unjustly held in a Turkish jail and hasn’t had a trial.