Pastor Andrew Brunson Says He Hopes to Return to Turkey One Day

Andrew Brunson speaks during a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom event in Washington on Feb. 6, 2019. He was joined by his wife, Norine, and USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins. Photo courtesy of USCIRF

Pastor Andrew Brunson, the American evangelical imprisoned in Turkey for almost two years, says he’d like to return to that country someday.

For now, he is grateful to be on U.S. soil.

“We would love to go back. We love the people because we believe God loves the people there and we want to show God’s love to them,” he said Wednesday (Feb. 6), recalling fondly the decades he and his wife spent there before he was sent to prison on terrorism-related charges the U.S. declared were false.

“We spent 25 years in Turkey and someday we hope the conditions will be right for us to go back,” he said.

Brunson, who had pastored a small church in the coastal city of Izmir, spoke briefly at a reception in his honor hosted by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent nonpartisan watchdog.

Brunson recalled that USCIRF commissioners were among the first people to visit him in prison after his arrest in October 2016. The North Carolinian said the commissioners helped him to know that he was not forgotten during his time in prison.

“It was a real boost to me and encouraged me,” said Brunson, adding that one of the commissioners at the time, Sandra Jolley, brought him an illustrated Book of Psalms, “which was a comfort to me over the rest of my time there.”

Brunson was moved to house arrest in July 2018 and freed by a Turkish court a few months later in October.

Sandra Jolley, former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, speaks about the Brunsons and their experiences on Feb. 6, 2019, in Washington. Photo courtesy of USCIRF

His wife, Norine, added that they realize that “not all stories end the way ours did.” She expressed her appreciation for the support they have received.

“We are grateful for all the efforts, all the prayers and in the end,” she said, “we have to give glory to God.”

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Source: Religion News Service