One of Turkey’s high criminal courts in Izmir has upheld a lower court’s decision and rejected U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson’s request to be released from house arrest. The court also rejected an appeal for Andrew’s travel ban to be lifted.
The first appeal rejected by a lower court was then sent to a higher court, according to Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt.
Halavurt said that they may file another appeal with the court as, “depending on the developments, we can apply again.” He said he was also considering an appeal to Turkey’s constitutional court.
Trump Calls Brunson a “Patriot Hostage”
Since the first appeal was rejected, the U.S. government has increased pressure on Turkey, levying sanctions, doubling tariffs on Turkish imports and speaking frequently and publicly, calling for Andrew’s release.
President Trump has repeatedly called for his release and late last night he tweeted, calling Pastor Brunson to represent the United States as a “great patriot hostage.”
Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Turkey, Jeffrey Hovenier, visited Pastor Brunson in his home in Izmir. Speaking outside the Brunsons’ residence, Hovenier said Washington wanted the pastor’s case “as well as the case of the other unjustly detained Americans, and the Turkish national employees of the U.S. diplomatic mission” resolved fairly, swiftly and transparently.”
In response to U.S. actions, Turkey President Erdogan publicly rebuffed the U.S., retaliating with increased tariffs on U.S. imports and threatening to boycott U.S. electronic goods.
Pastor Brunson’s next hearing—the fourth time he will appear before a Turkish court—is scheduled for October 12. The 62-page indictment accuses Pastor Brunson of “Christianization,” calling it an act of terror. The indictment demands up to 15 years in prison for “crimes in the name of the Gulen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and up to 20 years for obtaining state secrets for political or military espionage.”
If convicted, Pastor Brunson faces 35 years in prison–essentially a life sentence for the 50-year-old pastor.
On July 25, he was moved from Buca prison to house arrest for health concerns. The upcoming hearing will mark almost two years since Pastor Brunson was arrested in October 2016.
Praying With the Brunsons
Please continue to pray for the Brunson family, remembering …
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Instead, Paul reminds us that we pray against the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). As much as we may be tempted to villainize President Erdoğan and his government, as Christ’s Church we are called to pray against the darkness. Pastor Brunson’s case is set against a backdrop of increasing Christian persecution and darkness in Turkey, which is No. 31 on the World Watch List.
Prayer is our greatest weapon. It goes beyond strongholds and into places we could never venture. And if you believe the Book of Acts, prayer can break chains, release prisoners, bring aid and relief to suffering saints like no other resource. Throughout his life, Open Doors Founder Brother Andrew has witnessed Acts-like prayer. He says that prayers can go where we cannot… there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.”
God is sovereign; we don’t know His ways. Throughout history, God has used persecution as part of His sovereign plan to spread the gospel and strengthen believers. Persecution of Christians was prevalent in both the Old and New Testaments. Scripture tells us repeatedly that we will not always understand God’s ways. But we continue to pray even when things don’t make sense in our heads and hearts, trusting God and His wisdom–remembering that He is good and nothing is happening that He’s not aware of or allowing.
God is the master of timing. Throughout Scripture, we see that God is not in a hurry. For 400 years, the Israelites prayed for deliverance from Egypt. Even Jesus knew this. In the Gospels, Jesus says “my hour has not come.” We continue to pray knowing that God is the master of time and therefore the master of timing.
God is still working. Places or circumstances don’t limit God’s power. When Joseph was thrown into a cistern by his brothers, God was still working. When he was unjustly imprisoned, God was still there, using the circumstances to mature Joseph and ultimately save His people. And God still works through our prayers. When we pray, we show that we are trusting God to work even when our finite view limits our perspective.
In His Word, God has shown us how to pray for the persecuted. We can find insight and practical help in the scriptures:
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
…but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32).
And finally, we can pray the powerful prayer Pastor Brunson recently shared, asking God to use Him: “Father, cause to burst into flame in the love You have for Jesus, that I may be a servant, ardent lover of Him, willing to undergo whatever is asked.”
Remember to write and share your prayers on our Prayer Wall where more than 1,700 members of the Body of Christ have expressed their hearts.