By Message Staff
Christian leaders celebrated the release of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who returned to the U.S. Oct. 13 after being held captive in Turkey for the past two years.
Brunson, who had pastored a church in Turkey, was imprisoned in October 2016 and transferred to house arrest in July as he awaited a hearing. Domestic and international pressure mounted on Turkish officials as the Christian community claimed Brunson was wrongly imprisoned.
A court in Turkey had charged him with espionage and undermining constitutional order of the state before finding him guilty of “terror.”
Brunson was released for time served Oct. 12 and hours later boarded a plane for the US.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a former interim pastor of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church near Baton Rouge, a Louisiana representative and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, was one of the key figures in securing Brunson’s release.
“The prayers of thousands were answered today when Pastor Brunson was released by the Turkish government and told he could go home to the United States,” Perkins said in a Family Research Council’s news release. “Those prayers combined with the unwavering resolve of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Brownback brought tangible help to Pastor Brunson and hope to those around the globe who are being persecuted because of their faith.
“He was also well represented legally by our friends at the American Center for Law and Justice and we commend them and their attorneys for the outstanding work they did on behalf of Pastor Brunson,” he continued.
Days before his release, Perkins paid a visit to the family, “Yesterday afternoon I visited with Pastor Brunson and his wife Norine and delivered letters from President Trump and Vice President Pence that assured them of this administration’s commitment to them and the underlying principle of religious freedom.
“I also took the opportunity to share with them the names of the 16,000 Christians in the US that signed a pledge over the last few days to stand with them in prayer – those prayers have been answered,” he continued. “America seeks the well-being of all peaceful, freedom loving people, but this administration has made clear America will not sacrifice religious freedom and the well-being of Americans on the altar of globalism.”
Franklin Graham, chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and founder of Samaritan’s Purse, wrote on his Facebook page the power of prayer helped bring Brunson home.
“WELCOME HOME ANDREW BRUNSON! Pastor Brunson, his wife Norine, and some of their family members met with President Donald J. Trump and others in the Oval Office today, thanking the President for his efforts to free him. Pastor Brunson also thanked Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others who had stood with him and fought for his freedom. Pastor Brunson and his wife prayed aloud for the President, asking that he be blessed with wisdom to lead the country into righteousness, courage to stand for truth, and be protected from enemies and those who would undermine him. That’s a great first day home. We thank God for answering prayer!”
President Donald Trump said during a meeting with Brunson that securing his return to the U.S. is the end of a long journey.
“But for Andrew, it’s been a very interesting day,” Trump said. “Because as you probably heard, I said a little bit earlier, from a Turkish prison to the White House in 24 hours. That’s not bad.”
Brunson expressed appreciation to Trump and others from the administration for their efforts in securing his release.
“You really fought for us, unusually so,” he said. “From the time you took office, I know that you’ve been engaged, and Secretary of State Pompeo also was very engaged and fought for us. And Vice President Pence, we’re very grateful. Mr. Bolton.
“There are a number of people in the Senate. And I can’t mention everyone, but I know that Senator Tillis visited me in prison, and so did Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Graham. And Sen. Lankford has been involved from the very beginning.
“So, we’re so grateful to so many people in the Congress who stood with us and who prayed for us, and who fought for us.”