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Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine -- Middle East Concern
Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine
Photo: World Watch Monitor

On August 24th, Pastor Andrew Brunson was connected via video link from the maximum-security prison where he is presently being held. The judge at the Second Criminal Court in Izmir read out allegations from the chief prosecutor's office that Pastor Brunson had obtained confidential political and military information for espionage purposes, specifically to "overthrow" the Turkish parliament and government, and thus undermine the constitutional order of the state.

Although new charges have been added, any evidence supporting such absurd claims has yet to be presented, and no indictment has been handed down. In his response to the judge, the accused pastor adamantly maintained his innocence and denied the charges, pleading with the judge that evidence be provided. Pastor Brunson also further denied any such activity and reiterated that he is "a man of religion" whose aim is to teach of Jesus Christ. The chairman of the Association of Protestant Churches, Ihsan Ozbek, labelled the accusations "absurd" and "political." Neither the pastor nor his lawyer have had access to his file or any submitted evidence.

Pastor Brunson was initially arrested with his wife Norine on October 7th of last year. The pastoring couple were told of plans for their deportation as they were considered "a threat to national security." While his wife was subsequently released, Pastor Brunson had been held in an immigration detention facility until his transfer to a prison in Izmir. Currently, he faces four consecutive life sentences based on the newly devised charges. More about his initial arrest is available here.

Despite the false claims being presented before the court, pray that Pastor Brunson's years of dedication to the Lord and his faithfulness in ministry and humanitarian service will provide compelling evidence to the contrary among his accusers and those in authority. May the light of truth be revealed to the judicial officials, so they will come to realize his sincerity and best intentions for the people and the country of Turkey as a whole. In addition, intercede for the congregation members affected by their pastor's arrest. May they experience a greater passion for the Lord and an increased fervency to serve Him so their church will continue to thrive and grow.