Despite being held prisoner in Turkey for more than two years, North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson shared on Wednesday that he would like to go back.
According to the Christian Post, Brunson shared with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that he knows God loves the Turkish people and he feels as if he is still being called to serve there.
Brunson met the USCIRF on Wednesday at the Senate Welcome Center to thank the commission for the tireless work they put forth while advocating for his release.
He said of the United States to the commission, “I don’t know how many countries have this kind of emphasis on religious freedom, not just in their own country but trying to advocate for it around the world. I think this is something very unusual, very admirable.”
His wife Noreen also thanked the commission for providing support to her husband while he was being jailed in Turkey. She said, “We’re aware that not all stories end the way ours did, so just keep up your work. And we have to give glory to God.”
Brunson added that since his arrest and eventual release he fears that restrictions on Christians will become more aggressive in Turkey. He told the USCIRF, “I think there is going to be more difficulty for the church in Turkey.”
“There are more restrictions coming right now. There have been a number of missionaries who have been deported from the country. There has been a real dampening effect on the Church; in some ways because a lot of what the [Turkish] media put out about me, which was government supported or initiated, which was painting a very negative picture of Christians, through me, saying, for example, that I’m a terrorist or that Christians support terrorist groups and we want to divide the country,” he added.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Pastor Brunson was arrested in 2016 on charges of terrorism. The North Carolina man was accused of supporting an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and being a part of a terror organization. After being in a Turkish prison for about a year and a half, Brunson was placed under house arrest in July 2018. Several months later, on October 12, Brunson stood before a Turkish court for a final hearing and it was decided that the pastor would be released and sentenced to time served.
Brunson has not indicated when he plans to return to Turkey.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Mark Wilson/Staff