Called to Serve
The Muslim world is starved for evangelism, discipleship, and support. The cost for those who convert to Christianity is enormous—imprisonment, torture, and even death. Often these attacks come at the hands of one’s own family. The cost for those who serve is also great. One of those faithful servants who paid a heavy price is Pastor Andrew Brunson, author of God’s Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance.
“Andrew, there’s a very long line of people who have suffered for Jesus Christ and it stretches out 2,000 years. It’s your time, it’s your turn to stand in that line.”
During a special interview with Help The Persecuted’s President and CEO Josh Youssef, Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine shared about their 23 years serving as missionaries in Turkey, and the two years that Andrew spent imprisoned after being falsely accused of multiple crimes.
The Brunsons spoke of the converts they ministered to during their time in Turkey and the pressure these new believers faced from their neighbors, families, and government. They said those who have persevered and matured in their faith were such a beautiful witness. While many see the country as a “dark place” they had the privilege of seeing the beauty of God’s redemptive work there firsthand.
After personally serving on the ground in Turkey, witnessing and experiencing persecution themselves, the Brunsons are committed to supporting the persecuted church. Norine shared, “the work of Help The Persecuted is so important, so precious. We appreciate the work you do for persecuted Christians.”
Persecution and Imprisonment
On October 7, 2016, Andrew faced false charges from the Turkish government, was imprisoned, and often kept in solitary confinement.
Andrew’s mother was allowed a visit early on and challenged him with these words, “Andrew, there’s a long line of people who have suffered for Jesus Christ. It’s a very long line, and it stretches out 2,000 years. It’s your time, it’s your turn to stand in that line.”
Not knowing if he would ever be released, Andrew shared candidly about his struggles, especially during his first year in prison. “One day, without warning, the words spat out of my mouth, ‘Do you even exist God?’ I started to weep. I had failed …’Papa save me,’ I prayed. ‘I’m afraid of my own mind and thoughts.”
But millions around the world were praying for him and the White House was advocating for his release.
Perseverance and Release
Nick Ayers, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Pence, also joined the conversation with behind-the-scenes commentary on the United States efforts to have Andrew released. Ayers credits the Vice President and President with a relentless commitment to prioritizing the release of any Americans held hostage and persecuted for their beliefs.
As the White House pursued his release, a prayer movement was growing around the world. Norine was allowed a visit to Andrew and encouraged him that millions of people were praying for him—a supernatural movement of God. Not just friends, but people on every continent were praying. I told him, “I don’t see the prayer stopping. I think it it’s growing. And if God is raising up all this prayer, I want to believe He’s going to answer it.”
During his second year in prison, still not knowing if he ever would be physically released, Andrew began to experience a spiritual release. Though God was still silent, Andrew was able to begin to trust without questioning, and he began to worship Him again.
On October 12, 2018, Pastor Andrew Brunson was released from prison.
Andrew shared that while at the time, prison was a true low in his life and still a very painful memory, he can now look back on it and clearly see how God used it. And he made the commitment to share his weakness and struggles with others to God’s glory.
Watch the full interview below and be challenged and inspired by this miraculous story.
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