Brunson case: prosecutor recommends severe punishment

Turkey (MNN) – The situation surrounding Andrew Brunson’s imprisonment in Turkey continues to be grim. In August, new charges were filed against the American pastor. Recently, the prosecutor raised the stakes when he asked for a particularly harsh sentencing.

Andrew and Norine Brunson (Photo courtesy of World Watch Monitor)

Middle East Concern’s Miles Windsor says, “Realistically, this isn’t about prosecuting somebody who’s committed a crime. This is about gaining leverage from somebody who is seen as somebody of value.

“So, actually what’s being leveled at him is … very severe, and that’s four consecutive life sentences.”

At the end of September, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed suspicions that he was using Brunson as a political pawn.  “They would like the Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, returned to Turkey in exchange for Brunson,” Windsor explains.

President Erdogan blames Gulen for the 2016 coup attempt. Windsor says because it’s not actually a prisoner-for-prisoner exchange, it’s highly unlikely that the United States would hand Gulen over.

“It’s also the case that Andrew is in prison on completely false charges and it’s been clear since fairly early on that he was being used for this purpose.”

Similar charges have been filed against tens of thousands of other political prisoners arrested after the coup attempt. Among them are judges, soldiers, academics, and activists. Brunson is not the only American accused of being a part of the coup attempt, either. Many of these prisoners are still awaiting trial and sentencing.

“There’s huge amounts of injustice being perpetrated in Turkey at the moment and it’s Turkey’s great shame,” Windsor says.
A song from prison
But despite the darkness surrounding the situation, there is one believer making a profound statement to the glory of God—Brunson himself.

Middle East Concern recently received the written verses of a song Brunson wrote in prison. His wife gave permission to share it, hoping it would encourage other believers to continue to pray for her husband. Windsor says the song exemplifies Brunson’s desire to be pleasing to God and his “determination to follow the Lord even in [this] situation.”

You are worthy, worthy of my all
My tears and pain I lift up as an offering
Teach me to share in the fellowship of your suffering
Lamb of God you are worthy of my all.
You are worthy, worthy of my all
Adopted as a son, a brother to my King
Indeed I will share in your glory if I share your suffering
Jesus, you are worthy of my all.
You are worthy, worthy of my all
But my heart faints, drowned in sorrow, overwhelmed
Make me like you, Cross-bearer, persevering, faithful to the end
To stand the trial and receive the crown of life.
You are worthy, worthy of my all
This is my declaration in the darkest hour
Jesus, the Faithful One who loves me, always good and true
You made me yours, you are worthy of my all.
I want to be found worthy to stand before you on that day
With no regrets from cowardice, things left undone
To hear you say, “Well done, my faithful friend, now enter your reward”
Jesus, my Joy, you are the prize I’m running for.
You are worthy, worthy of my all
You are worthy, worthy of my all
What can I give to the Son of God, who gave himself for me
Here I am, you are worthy of my all.
(Andrew Brunson, September 2017)

Prayer and advocacy must continue
Even though it seems like each development reveals a bigger challenge, the rest of the world has not given up on Brunson’s case.

Windsor says, “I think that the United States and other members of the international community should continue in dialogue, seeking a way forward, and continue to apply pressure to see justice done in this situation and see Andrew released and returned to the US. It’s hard to know what else they can be doing. Turkey is a very reluctant participant of the international community at the moment.”

It’s a difficult situation, but we don’t have to stand back and wait for the political strife to be ironed out. We can advocate for Brunson in prayer.

“We have to keep praying. We have to pray to God that he would intervene in this situation because it’s so hard to see a way forward and to see a solution. But God has everything in his hands and in his power.

“So, I suggest that we be praying for Andrew, praying for his release, praying for justice to be done in Turkey and praying for those who are enemies of God in that country—that they would believe and be saved.”

Windsor continues, “I know that [Brunson would] want those listeners of yours who’ve been praying and acting on his behalf to know that he is very grateful.”

To learn more about Middle East Concern, click here.