Hopes dashed today. American missionary and pastor Andrew Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since 2016 for allegations of espionage and terrorism.
Brunson is an innocent man who has served as a pastor and missionary in Turkey for 23 years. He is a hostage in a political game where the Turkish government is trying to swap Brunson for a Turkish cleric who is residing in the United States.
Brunson was taken into custody in 2016 for allegedly being part of a coup against the Turkish president however the “evidence” against him comes from anonymous sources. The 50 year old pastor faces 35 years in prison.
This week, he was on trial, and there was hope that he could be released. Several American officials have visited Brunson.
Today, Brunson was sent back to jail with his next trial date not coming until October.
Brunson has said: “I desperately miss my wife and children. Yet, I believe this to be true, it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me. My deepest thanks to all those around the world who are standing with and praying for me.”
Brunson is unjustly being persecuted but it is encouraging to hear of his steadfast hope in the gospel in spite of his circumstances.
The Apostle Paul was wrongly imprisoned more than once during his ministry.
Writing the Letter to the Philippians from prison, Paul said:
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Paul was in a difficult situation but took advantage of where he was for the sake of advancing the gospel.
As counterintuitive as it is, it’s often in the face of persecution that the gospel spreads. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “ “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
Prayers for you Pastor Andrew. The Lord be with you.
Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.
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