Arrested in October 2016 on false charges of being involved in an Islamic terrorist organization, Pastor Andrew Brunson remains in Turkey in an Izmir prison—persecuted for his Christian faith and held as a political hostage. For 23 years, he and his family lived in Turkey, where they led a church. In late March 2018, Turkish prosecutors filed official charges and called for a life sentence of 35 years.
His next trial is scheduled to begin Monday, May 7, 2018 (around 10 pm EST on May 6 in the United States).
In prison, Pastor Brunson has written powerful notes and letters sharing his heart and faith.
“Let it be clear, I am in prison, not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am—a Christian pastor. 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.”
As the trial approaches, we invite you to stand in prayer with Pastor Brunson, his wife Norine, and their family. Let them know they are not alone… We will post updates about Pastor Brunson and the trial on this page as soon as we have them.
April 11, 2018: A recent visit with Pastor Brunson reveals that his physical health has declined during his imprisonment. U.S. Senator Thom Tillis spent time with Pastor Brunson inside Buca Prison in Izmir. “Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God, but his health has deteriorated,” Tillis said in a statement following his visit. “He has lost 50 pounds and spends 24 hours a day in a cell with limited human contact.” For the full report, click here.
April 14, 2018: On their Facebook page, Norine Brunson posted that “the Lord clearly told me and another believer to pray for Andrew three times a day–morning, noon and evening.” And to pray specifically, “that the cord around Andrew would be loosened/untied.”
“Although I don’t understand this completely, the Lord gave this very clearly so I am praying it by faith,” she wrote. “Please join by faith that what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”
April 16, 2018: The hearing for Pastor Andrew Brunson began in Turkey around 10 p.m. last night, April 15. The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Andrew telling the court: “I don’t accept any of the allegations or accusations. I did not engage in any illegal activity. I had no relations with anyone engaged in such activity. I am a Christian pastor. I did not join an Islamic movement. Their aims and mine are different.” The agency said the pastor delivered his defense statement in Turkish. Please continue to pray as the trial continues. We will post updates as we get them. Before the trial began, Andrew’s daughter Jacqueline Furnari said her father’s mood has recently improved and that he had started to gain back some of the 50 pounds he lost while in detention. “The start was very, very difficult,” she said. “It was a dark time. He’s anxious … but altogether he’s doing a lot better.” For the full report, click here.
April 16, 2018: After only one day of testimony, a Turkish judge ordered a continuation of the trial on May 7 and sent Pastor Andrew back to a prison notorious for overcrowding and grim conditions. For the full report, click here.
April 17, 2018: On Tuesday, President Trump publicly called on Turkey to release Pastor Brunson. In a Twitter post, Trump wrote, “Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully, he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!”
April 18, 2018: On Wednesday, the U.S. reportedly warned Turkey that they are considering punitive “consequences” if Turkey does not throw out the charges or acquit Pastor Brunson.
Wess Mitchell, the United States’ top diplomat for Europe, said the charges against Andrew were “laughable.”
“The Turks claim to have a high standard of justice, the indictment suggests otherwise,” Mitchell told the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. “This is clearly an innocent man. We are watching to see if the Turks adhere to their stated standards of justice. If that does not happen, we are considering options for consequences.”
He said the State Department is consulting with Congress about “possible measures” to take against Turkey if Brunson is not released.
April 20, 2018: After asking for fervent prayer for Pastor Andrew to be moved back to the Buca prison in Izmir where he was held before the trial, Norine Brunson posted that he was moved back to Izmir. The same day, 66 U.S. senators signed and sent a letter to Turkey President Erdogan urging him to release Andrew and adding that there would be “consequences” if he didn’t. Read the full report.
April 24, 2018: President Erdogan responded to U.S, pressure to free Pastor Brunson, saying Turkey would not extradite Pastor Andrew if the U.S. would not extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania whom Erdogan claims led the 2016 coup in Turkey. Read the full report.
May 7, 2018: After 10 hours of testimony from unidentified witnesses, the presiding judge continued Pastor Brunson’s trial and sent him back to prison where he will wait 70 more days for the next hearing on July 18. The judge also dismissed all of Brunson’s witnesses, again proving that he is not receiving a fair trial. Read the full report.
June 20, 2018: Less than four weeks before his third hearing in Turkey on July 18, freedom efforts are intensifying. U.S. government leaders, including President Trump, and international groups have stepped up their support, identifying specific ways to pressure Turkey into releasing the pastor. On June 20, Pastor Brunson had been imprisoned, away from his family, for 605 days since his arrest October 2016. Read the full report.
This is a developing story. Please check back here for continuous updates.