Pastor Andrew Brunson believes that God was sovereignly involved in his two-year incarceration in Turkey because ‘millions of people prayed for Turkey during that time, and God is bringing blessing out of it’.
In an interview with American TV programme CBS This Morning after his release, Pastor Brunson revealed that the book of 2 Timothy sustained him during his two months in a Turkish prison.
‘Where Paul talks about suffering and finishing the race well, and this became my prayer: I want to be faithful and endure and finish well’.
Pastor Brunson was originally arrested along with his wife. On being arrested they were both told they were a threat to national security. Yet the couple had spent 23 years in Turkey telling people about Jesus and helping refugees, ‘So we hadn’t done anything that would harm national security’, pastor Brunson said.
Asked if they thought what they had been doing was dangerous and could land them in prison, he said, ‘Not that it would land us in prison. We were the first ones who’ve experienced that in Turkey in a long time’.
His wife Noreen was released after 13 days but faced a lot of uncertainty. She didn’t know if she could remain in the country. She said, ‘I wanted to stay with him until this was all done’. The couple had ‘very little’ communication, and Pastor Brunson was moved, with silence over what was happening to him.
Pastor Brunson said he was very isolated in prison where he spent time in solitary confinement and otherwise was in an overcrowded cell, meant to accommodate eight, with 20 other inmates.
He said, ‘There was very little contact with the outside, so I could see Noreen for 35 minutes a week through glass, talking by phone’. He praised his wife, saying, ‘She actually is very strong and had to take me through this emotionally and spiritually. She was the only one I could receive truth from, and that’s what would keep me going for the next week’.
Asked whether he thought he was held as a pawn in exchange for another prisoner, he said, ‘I believe that God was involved in this for us, because I think of millions of people who prayed for Turkey during that time, and how God is bringing blessing out of it’.
Before meeting President Trump following her husband’s release, Mrs Brunson had a dream about praying for the president. She said, ‘Before we went to the White House, we prayed and asked God to give us an opportunity to pray for the president, and we asked him if we could do it and he said yes. She also shared a verse in Isaiah 11 with the president’.