As you may have seen through the news media things did not go well for Andrew Brunson at his trial on Monday. His request to be placed on house arrest for the duration of the trial was denied and he was put back in prison until July 18 when the next hearing will take place.
Andrew’s pastor, Richard White, was able to be in the courtroom for the 10-hour hearing. Here are some of his reflections on the events…
Sad, angry, and resolute. These are my states of mind as I wake after Andrew’s trial. After 10 hours in court, I am deeply saddened that the judge refused to allow Andrew‘s request to return home and finish the trial under some form of house arrest. I’m sad at having to watch Norine be brave yet again for her husband and community. She is like Mary pouring her treasure out at Jesus‘s feet. It’s her costly treasure of time, lost time with husband and children, her father‘s death, and so much more. I’m also sad for the Turkish people and the blatant miscarriage of justice. This bleeds into my anger.
The judge allowed the most ludicrous witnesses to testify against Andrew. One young man, who had angrily left their church years ago, wanted to return to the church but was denied membership because he was such a troublemaker. He refused to repent. On the stand, this man admitted to creating a fake Facebook page in Andrew’s name and posting pro-terrorist items on it. The judge looked past this and validated this man’s testimony of seeing terrorist flags in Andrew’s church. It was a total lie, but the judge said it carried weight. The judge not only led witnesses with his questions, but also linked all the witnesses at the end in an effort to maintain the case against Andrew. The most angering blow was at the end when the judge decimated Andrew’s witness defense list saying that most of his witnesses were also “suspects” and, therefore, could not testify on Andrew’s behalf. This, in effect, ties the hands of Andrew’s defense.
So, what to do with unresolved sadness and justified anger? This morning I am reflecting on 1 Peter 2:23 – “When he was reviled he did not revile in return, when he suffered (unjustly) he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly.” Also, Psalm 30:5 – “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” And Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.”
God did answer many prayers. Andrew spoke with clarity, authority, and boldness in the Lord as he refuted many, many lies spoken against him. Norine remained strong and alert. I had asked the Lord to be able to get into the courtroom. We got in. I asked to be a visible encouragement to Andrew and to have five minutes to visit with him. Everyone assured me that it would be impossible. No clergy of any faith have visited prisoners during this state of emergency in Turkey. BUT…then there was a technical difficulty with the jumbotron screens and while all were distracted, Andrew turned around in his seat and looked back at us as where we sat in the back of the court. Norine said that this was not allowed. But with the judges distracted with the screen, Andrew was able to lock eyes with Norine and me and Sam and several others. I was able to communicate love, prayers, and blessings. It was a sacred and joy-filled moment from the Lord. We all wept. This technological difficulty lasted five minutes. It happened again later so we got another opportunity for eye to eye loving contact. When Andrew was escorted out of the courtroom I moved to a place closer to his exit door and yelled out, “We love you brother. We will never forget you. The whole church is praying for you back home.”
Joy, sorrow, anger, and resolution. I remain resolute in standing with and praying for Andrew. I know you do as well. Hebrews 13:5 says “Remember those in prison as though with them.” So we must keep praying. God is working something much larger than we can see or understand right now. I assured Norine and Andrew (in a note I left for Andrew with the US consular) that our church is praying for them, even at 2am in Graham Chapel. Thank you for praying. This is the hard work God has for us. Romans 15:30 says “I appeal to you brothers and sisters by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered.”
Andrew’s wife Norine commented on Monday’s events…
I know many of you will have seen in the news that Andrew’s imprisonment continues. Again, the Spirit of the Lord was on him to speak the truth clearly and have a good testimony during the 10-hour hearing. In the midst of so so many lies, it was wonderful when Andrew would then speak the truth. The lawyer also did a great job. So glory to God and thank you for your prayers. I had felt very discouraged in the last few days, but today I saw the Lord’s hand in some small things.
It is clear that this is bigger than just Andrew. As Pam Brunson, Andrew’s mother says her son “is not a victim. . . but an instrument of God.” She wants everyone to pray for the unveiling of the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to go out from Turkey to all nations!
So, the work of prayer continues. If the Lord is calling you to continue to pray for Andrew and the event surrounding his trial, you can sign up to be a part of a prayer cohort which will continue to pray into these issues. You can do so here http://eepurl.com/dtny7b
How you can pray
Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray for Andrew, his family, his situation and for Turkey. Here are some prayer points which can help you to pray, but allow the Holy Spirit to direct you.
- Pray that the Lord would strengthen Andrew (2 Timothy 4:17-18).
- Pray that Andrew would know God’s peace and his presence with him in prison (John 14:27 and Isaiah 26:3).
- Pray for Norine and the rest of Andrew’s family for strength and protection as they wait.
- Pray that they would not fall into discouragement, despair and hopelessness but as they fix their eyes upon Jesus they will renew their strength.
- Pray for the nation of Turkey, that the Lord will move in power in that country.
- Pray for the proclamation of the gospel which will turn hearts and lives towards Jesus.
- Pray for outpourings of the Holy Spirit to open blinded eyes to the truth of the gospel.
- Pray that the Lord would give a clear prayer strategy as we move forward