"As we celebrate Pastor Brunson's return to his family and his homeland, we must remain conscious of the many others who are imprisoned and whose lives are threatened because of their belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
WASHINGTON -- The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) is celebrating the immediate release of Pastor Andrew Brunson after a Turkish court determined he has adequately served his sentence for allegedly aiding terrorists in a failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan.
Pastor Brunson was arrested and jailed for the false allegations on October 7, 2016. The bogus charges sparked outrage among Christian clergy, lay leaders, and the Trump Administration. The U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback traveled to Turkey in April to support Brunson during one of his trial hearings
A North Carolina native, Brunson lived and ministered for 23 years in Izmir, located along Turkey's Aegean coast. He was the pastor of Resurrection Church in Izmir and is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
IRD International Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
"We rejoice and are grateful to God for this good news of Pastor Brunson's release. There has been a tremendous surge of advocacy and intercession for Andrew Brunson as people became aware of his unjust imprisonment in Turkey, and an unprecedented involvement from a President of the United States, in the ongoing concern of President Trump for Brunson's fate. We are also so grateful for the work of Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and other US government officials on his behalf.
"Now we should pray for complete physical and emotional wholeness for Brunson as he adjusts to life in freedom once again. And do not forget the Christian community in Turkey that stood with Brunson. They will be under more pressure than ever, as will his courageous Muslim attorney, Ismail Cem Halavurt. They need our prayers.
"As we celebrate Pastor Brunson's return to his family and his homeland, we must remain conscious of the many others who are imprisoned and whose lives are threatened because of their belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Particularly, at this moment, the life of a courageous young Nigerian Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, and a Pakistani Christian mother, Asia Bibi, hang in the balance. The jihadist group Boko Haram, that kidnapped fifteen-year-old Sharibu in February, has declared that they will execute her next week. Christians should continue to encourage the U.S. government to put pressure on Nigeria President Buhari to save the life of this young girl and all those that the terrorists have taken. And Bibi is now on a final appeal of a death sentence under Pakistan's egregious blasphemy laws. She has been in prison for more than eight years. Let us not forget these sisters in Christ."