PRAYER UPDATE FROM ISRAEL APRIL 18, 2017
1. PLEASE PRAY FOR ANDREW BRUNSON
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)…Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested…” (Revelation 2:8-10)
“For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the LORD viewed the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to release those appointed to death, to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD” (Psalm 102:19-21).
Andrew Brunson is an American minister who has worked for 23 years as a missionary in Turkey, where he is current pastor of a congregation in Izmir (ancient Smyrna). For some time Succat Hallel (a 24/7 prayer and intercession ministry in Jerusalem of which the writers are a part) has been in association with a house of prayer in that city which is sponsored by Pastor Brunson’s church. Teams from Jerusalem, including leaders and musicians have visited this house of prayer, networking with the brothers and sisters there, teaching, taking part in seminars on the setting up of houses of prayer in the region.
At one point the Jeruslaem leaders sensed the Lord leading them to transfer the menorah from the House of Prayer at Succat Hallel to the House in Izmir (there have been a number of separate prophetic words to the effect that the Lord was restoring a Lampstand in Izmir (Smyrna) which will shine into that part of Turkey and throughout the Middle East region). Several of the leaders from Succat Hallel have become warmly acquainted with Pastor Andrew and his wife Norine.
Last October 7th Pastor Andrew was summoned to the police station in Izmir. He went, anticipating that he might finally be receiving a long-awaited “permanent residence” status in the land. Instead, he was told that he was being deported because of being a “threat to national security.” Yet instead of deportation, he was held in detention for 63 days (part of the time in solitary confinement), his cell phone, glasses, Bible and watch were confiscated, and he was granted no access to his Turkish attorney.
On December 8th in the middle of the night he was taken to a counter terrorism center, and from there on to a court where he was charged with “membership in a terrorist organization.” It seems significant that the very charging documents themselves state that no evidence has been gathered against him. Pastor Andrew has remained incarcerated ever since.
Almost immediately, voices began being raised on his behalf. In late December, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford traveled to Ankara to inquire into the situation, where, as reported to Fox News, he was met by Turkish authorities who claimed Brunson assisted Kurdish refugees and falsely claimed he had attended a conference in America by Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish government accuses Gulen of having been behind last year’s coup attempt. Some have speculated whether Turkey may be holding the pastor for use as a bargaining chip to try and coerce the United States into deporting Gulen.
There have been other attempts to bring Bruson’s plight before the public. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) launched a “Free Pastor Andrew” petition on their website, which as of this writing has reached 262,254 signatures. It concludes:
Turkey—our NATO ally, has begun increased crackdowns on Christians. If convicted, Pastor Andrew could face years in prison based on extremely serious—and false—charges.
At the ACLJ, we’re representing the family, mobilizing our international resources—including our offices in the region—demanding Pastor Andrew’s freedom. Take action with us before it’s too late.
(If you would like to add your name to the petition, you may do so at the site: https://aclj.org/ )
Three weeks ago (March 28th), Pastor Andrew submitted an appeal through the U.S. Embassy in Turkey to President Trump:
Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner? Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group. I have been imprisoned since October 7, 2016. During this time the Turkish government has produced no proof and has rebuffed numerous attempts by the American government to secure my return to the United States. In fact, they are treating the U.S. government with contempt and paying no price for it.
I plead with my government—with the Trump Administration—to fight for me. I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump: please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison.
Yesterday, in a highly-contested referendum, Turkey passed legislation by all appearances designed to grant unprecedented powers to its President Recep Erdogan. This morning President Trump called Erdogan, considered a US ally, who strongly supported the President’s recent strike on a Syrian airfield from which poison gas attacks had been launched, congratulating him on his victory. Let us hope and pray that this “friendly” position between the two leaders will allow an appeal on behalf of the innocent American citizen the Islamist regime currently holds captive.
Meanwhile, Pastor Andrew remains in jail. We have received word that at times his cell is occupied by 15 other inmates in a space meant to accommodate four. His cellmates are Muslim who are constantly attempting to convert him to their faith. He is being prayed for by many around the world—in our own Prayer Room in Jerusalem we have seen times of corporate intercession intensify during the past week.
* That Pastor Andrew be strengthened and sustained in spirit and body by the presence of His Lord Jesus—the One sent to set captives free—until his release; and that that release may come soon. “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house” (Isaiah 42:6-7).
* That Andrew’s plight will be brought before the American President, and his release will become a priority.
* That his wife Norine be strengthened and sustained, and given wisdom and words from God with which to encourage and strengthen her husband during the times she is allowed limited access to visit him.
* That Pastor Andrew be protected from depression and despair. Remember the ‘wearing down’ which occurred even to John the Baptizer (Matthew 11:2-3), who had announced the coming of the “Lamb of God who carries away the sin of the world!” That, as with Peter (Acts 12) and Paul and Silas (Acts 16), he would be granted Angel visitations and heavenly songs in the midst of the darkness.
* For physical and mental protection in his cell from physical violence and demonic assault. ““Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the souls of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. What would have been my plight—unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait in Hope on the LORD, Be Strong–and He will infuse courage into your heart, Wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27 11-14).
* That the Church and Prayer Room in Izmir over which Andrew is Pastor will be strengthened and unified in a deep way during this experience. That they—and all of us—will receive unction and insight from the Holy Spirit as to how to intercede on Andrew’s behalf.
(A portion of the material on background of Pastor Brunson’s incarceration drawn from: “American Pastor Jailed in Turkey Turns to President Trump for Help”: Breitbart News, Mar 30, 2017)
–Martin and Norma Sarvis