On Andrew Brunson on Trial
EPC Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held on trumped up and false charges in Turkey since October, 2016, had the first stage of his trial on April 16th. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom had their ambassador at that trial, and believe that it was a sham. They have recommended targeted sanctions against Turkish officials if Brunson is not released. After the trial President Trump tweeted support for Brunson, which is part of ongoing U.S. government advocation on his behalf. And today Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina (Brunson’s home state) spoke on the Senate floor about Andrew’s situation.
While the charges of Brunson being a CIA operative in cahoots with the Gülen movement are patently false, the accusation about his work among the Kurdish people in Turkey is far more troubling. Brunson worked among Kurdish refugees and preached the gospel to them. The Turkish government is arguing that his attempts to convert these Kurdish people was intended to sow social discord, something Brunson has denied. If Brunson is convicted on this count, a chill will be sent throughout the church in Turkey: preach the gospel, and risk imprisonment for disrupting society.
The next stage of Brunson’s trial is May 7th. Pray that he is released, that justice is done, and that the U.S. government’s efforts on his behalf are successful.