When we think of terrorism, sometimes we think of things that have happen here at home, but mostly we think of things that have happened in other countries. When we think of persecution, we almost always think of things that have happened “over there”. But today I want to share with you about our brother Andrew Brunson whose family resides here in WNC. Andrew and His wife moved from WNC to Turkey 23 years ago to serve as ministers of the Lord and have peacefully done so for that period of time. But on October 7, 2016, Andrew was imprisoned by the Turkish government on false charges of being part of a terrorist organization. Some have suggested that Andrew’s imprisonment is part of a crackdown by Turkey’s current administration against all perceived enemies, after a failed coup took place last year. It may also be a case of simple revenge as the Turkish government believes that a man currently exiled and protected in America, Fethullah Gulen, was a supporter and organizer for the coup. But whatever the reason, no evidence for the charges that have been brought against Andrew have been presented and our brother remains in prison to this day. Andrew and his wife, Norine have remained hopeful throughout this process but Norine informs us through her Facebook page that Andrew regularly asks if people are still praying. This is one of the main mission focuses of The Voice of the Martyrs as they urge people to pray, to write and to let our brothers and sisters know that they are not alone and not forgotten. Please remember Andrew, Andrew’s Parents, His wife, and their eighteen year old daughter in your prayers as they wait to see the outcome of this situation. I spoke with Andrew’s mother, Pamela, who told me that their prayer is that “…whatever happens, God will be glorified and Jesus will be known and receive the glory.” May marks Andrew’s six month in prison.
Andrew’s situation is very similar to another recent episode in Sudan when one of the staff of the Voice of the Martyrs, Peter Jasek, was held in custody along with members of ISIS, under the accusation of supplying money to rebel groups within Sudan. What Peter was actually doing was delivering money for the medical needs of Christians who had been persecuted for their faith. Peter endured 14 months of humiliation, beatings, and torture from his Islamic cellmates, but at the right time, God opened the door for Peter to go free. Andrew’s situation does not appear to be quite as dire, yet the contact he has had with his wife and the outside world has been sparse and we will not know all that he is passing through until he can tell us in person. The unique fact about Andrew Brunson’s case is that he is our brother, from our mountains here in WNC. But his imprisonment should cause us to realize that all of the persecuted Church is part of our family who needs our prayer and support. I am sure that Andrew and his family will always cherish Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”