American pastor Andrew Brunson on trial in Turkey
Published 1:42 am Saturday, April 28, 2018
I recently noticed a minister friend was wearing a yellow wristband with words printed on it. “What does it say?” I asked. He replied, “Free Andrew Brunson.” I recalled reading a news story about Andrew Brunson last week.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, “Pastor Andrew – a U.S. citizen – faces false charges in Turkey of ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ After peacefully serving the people of Turkey for more than 23 years without any issues from the Turkish government, this U.S. citizen now languishes in prison.”
Christianity Today reports that during “most of American pastor Andrew Brunson’s 18-month imprisonment in Turkey, the government failed to officially indict him or offer the opportunity for bail or his release.”
In 2016, Turkey, a Muslim-majority country, arrested the Presbyterian minister following an attempted coup. He is now reportedly accused of “fueling unrest in the country through alleged involvement with exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an insurgent group.” Both are seen as enemies and threats to the Turkish government.
The report went on to say, “Sam Brownback, the U.S. State Department’s new ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, traveled to Turkey this week to back the American pastor in court in Aliaga, just 38 miles from Izmir, the coastal city where Brunson had led a small Presbyterian congregation.”
Andrew Brunson told the Turkish court, “I did not engage in any illegal activity… I love Turkey. I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I wouldn’t do anything against Turkey.”
A year ago, Pastor Andrew delivered the following statement to the U.S. embassy officials who were able to meet with him in the prison:
“Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner? Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group. I have been imprisoned since October 7, 2016.
“During this time the Turkish government has produced no proof and has rebuffed numerous attempts by the American government to secure my return to the United States. In fact they are treating the US government with contempt and paying no price for it.
“I plead with my government – with the Trump Administration – to fight for me. I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump: please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison.”
A CBS news story states that the president of Turkey is demanding that the U.S. return the exiled cleric Gulen and Turkey will return Pastor Brunson. Gulen denies his involvement in the attempted coup. What can you and I do for Andrew Brunson? We can pray for him and his family because the Bible promises that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much” (James 5:16 NKJ).
Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org