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Focus on the Family Broadcast

A Captive Missionary’s Journey To Freedom (Part 1 of 2)

A Captive Missionary’s Journey To Freedom (Part 1 of 2)

Missionaries Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine, describe their new level of trust in Christ after being falsely accused of terrorism and arrested by Turkish officials in 2016. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: November 4, 2021

Preview:

Andrew Brunson: And so I felt abandoned, and I- I… Everything was going wrong, it kept getting worse and worse, and I thought, where is my kind, gentle father?

End of Preview

John Fuller: Pastor Andrew Brunson was accused of being a spy and a terrorist in Turkey. And he and his wife Norine served there as missionaries. He was held in Turkish prisons for two years, and became somewhere of a political pawn. His incredible story is coming up today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Uh, John, this coming Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church, and I hope pastors and churches recognize that. It’s so important for us to lift up those that are being persecuted literally, physically for their faith in Christ. Uh, in the United States, we haven’t experienced that kind of severe persecution as some have. And even giving, like I say, their lives for their belief in Jesus. And we must not forget the sacrifice that many believers make, risking literally, life and limb knowing they have eternal life awaiting for them. Uh, Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine, were in a life and death situation. And today, we’re going to hear how God brought them, um, through their trial by fire.

John: Andrew and Norine’s ministry is called Wave Starters and it’s focused on the Muslim world, uh, the persecuted church, and preparing believers to stand in difficult times. They have three grown children, and Andrew is a teaching Elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He’s written his incredible story in this book called, God’s Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment and Perseverance. And we have that here, just call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com\broadcast.

Jim: Andrew and Norine, uh, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Norine Brunson: Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you.

Jim: So good to have you with us. Uh, it takes a special kind of person to dedicate yourself, uh, to a lifetime of service on the mission field. Uh, I have several friends that have done that in various parts of the- the world. How did you sense God calling you to the mission field?

Andrew: Hudson Taylor who was a missionary to China-

Jim: Right.

Andrew: … uh, when he was an old man, a woman brought her two sons to him and asked him to lay hands on them and set them aside for missions. And so, he did that, and both of those boys grew up to become missionaries. One of them Stanley Solto, when he was an old man, my mother took me and my younger sister to him and said, “What Hudson Taylor did for you, I want you to do for my two children.”

Jim: Hmm.

Andrew: And he laid hands on us and set us aside for missions. And I remember it, it was one of my earliest memories, I was only three years old. But I got a spanking right after it- (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) Oh.

Andrew: … because I had been asking up, so that kind of engraved it in my mind. But I- I still have that memory of him praying for us. And from that time, I always had a very strong sense, uh, of calling into missions. I knew that I was set aside for that, so, even-

Jim: Wow.

Andrew: … during my teen years when I was not walking with the Lord, uh, for a time, I still, if someone had asked me, “What are you going to do when you’re older?” I said, “If I survive this period of my life, I know that I’m supposed to be a missionary.” So, I already had that strong sense of calling early on.

Jim: Okay, so, you’re dating Norine, and, uh, she says, “What- what are the dreams we have?”

John: (laughs)

Jim: … and you say, “I want to be a missionary.” How did you respond to that?

Norine: It- it came out very quickly. And I realized soon on- uh, early on, that if I marry this man, it means that I’m going to the mission field.

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: Uh, so I was willing. When our mission board asked us to go to Turkey, I was not happy about that-

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: … and I cried on the plane over, because I thought my life was done for sure.

Jim: Wow.

Norine: But that’s how negatively I started out the whole thing. Um, but four years on, and we didn’t leave the field for four years-

Jim: Right.

Norine: … I thought, if I came back, I want to go return to the field. But at the three and a half, four-year mark, I realize my heart was just tied.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Norine: However, God did it I don’t know, but I was fully committed if not more.

Jim: Well, for those that, uh, don’t have that calling and don’t understand what that environment’s like, describe that a bit. So, you get married, you have children right, and then you moved to Turkey?

Andrew: No, actually our children were born there.

Jim: Oh, they were born there?

Andrew: Yes. So, the reason to go to Turkey, is we had- uh, God just put on both of our hearts around the same time, and separately, uh, that we should go to the Muslim world. And Muslim world is the most unreached, uh, people group.

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: And, uh, Turkey is the largest, unevangelized country in the world. So, we didn’t really want to go there, we were headed towards the Arab world. Our mission asked us to go to Turkey, and we went in obedience. So, when we got there, we- uh, it’s not that we were enamored of the food or the culture, or anything like that. Uh, what God did is He put… The way I think of it, is he put some of his love for Turkey in our hearts. And this love was not expressed necessarily in emotion, but in a commitment to see blessing come to that people. And that kept us there over the years. We had a strong sense of assignment-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: … that this is what God has for us. And when difficulties came, that was such a blessing for us, that we knew this is what we’re supposed to be doing.

Jim: Right.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jim: But it’s a powerful statement that it’s an act of obedience. How many Christians in our modern era need to remember that? No matter if they’re just living here in the US-

Norine: Yeah, sure, sure.

Jim: … and doing their daily routine or going on the mission field, I mean, your life is an act of obedience. That’s the core thing, isn’t it?

Andrew: The goal that I have in my life is to love God… You know, Jesus said this is the most important thing, love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. One of the ways I express that love is through obeying Him. And so, uh, you- Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” And so, I- I had that in prison where I did a number of things out of obedience. I didn’t have any emotion behind it, yet it was really out of my love for Him that I was doing it.

Jim: Right, and that’s the point.

Norine: So, that’s really the main thing. I think that’s what we’re saying.

Jim: Um, I mean, this is dangerous work going to the mission field in the Middle East. I mean, uh, I can imagine all the turbulence that was, especially in the early days, going through your heads and your hearts about what this will be like. And in fact, you would receive death threats, uh, I think a man shot at you several times. Tell that story.

Andrew: Well, anybody whose involved in a public ministry in Turkey will have threats. So, it’s not just something that happened to us. We were involved in church plants, and these were public. Uh, the way that we would start is we’d put a sign on- on a- (laughs) on a building and say, “This is a church.” And then that provokes a reaction. But then also, seekers, people who were wanting to ask questions, know where to go. So, we had a public ministry and that meant that there were death threats, there were bomb threats and, uh, you mentioned once a man… Uh, we had a church plant in an unchurched city, a place where there were no churches. And he was upset about that, and he came to Izmir, where we were living and attacked our church.

Jim: Huh.

Andrew: So, he shot at me, and, uh, once he pulled a shot gun out, I knew that he couldn’t miss. (laughs) And I got-

Jim: But he did, first he pulled a pistol. Describe that, because this is amazing.

Andrew: … First, he- first he pulled a gun out…

Jim: This is amazing.

Andrew: So, uh, I was standing outside the church with one of our young men, talking. And then, I look, uh, and there’s a man who has stopped and is pointing a pistol at me, and just with hatred in his eyes, and just started shooting. And afterward he pulled out a- a shot gun, and I thought, if he goes into the church with a shot gun, we could have a massacre here. And I had been frozen up until then, (laughs) now I kind of unfroze and ran over, and just tried to hold him in a bear hug, uh, until help came.

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: Um, and-

Jim: That’s amazing. Not many people have that in their portfolio.

John: Yeah, this is something you didn’t learn in missionary school, I’m thinking.

Andrew: … (laughs) Right. Yeah, it was, uh-

Norine: Yeah, it was the Lord-

Andrew: … Yeah.

Norine: … there’s no question of it.

John: Yeah, wow.

Jim: Now in 2016, uh, for some unexplained reason you had a sense that God was, uh, saying something to you one day. And what was it?

Andrew: Yeah, just out of the blue I had this thought, it’s time to come home. And it kept, uh, coming into my mind again and again. I wasn’t thinking about home, I was- as far as I was concerned, I was home, I was in Turkey, we lived there tw-

Jim: How long- yeah, how long did you live there?

Andrew: … We’d been there 23 years at that time.

Jim: Wow.

Andrew: And, uh, we expected that we would be there for the remainder of our- of our lives. We had no intention of leaving. Really, I think what God was doing was, he was preparing me before this ordeal started. When we were arrested, I immediately thought, oh, here we- we’ve invested so many years in Turkey. We have ministries that we- we see such potential in. We’re preparing for what we believe is, harvest that is going to come in that land. And now we’re going to be deported, is what we were told. I thought, God prepared me for this to tell me, “I’m involved in this. You know, you are gonna be deported, you are gonna leave, but I’m in it. Don’t worry about it.”

Jim: Yeah. Hmm.

Andrew: And then as they held me in prison, you know-

Jim: Yeah. Well, yeah, that- and we’re gonna get to that. But I- I wanna go to that moment, because again, people don’t know the story fully. Um, you get a call from the police, or were they at your door? Or what- what took place and what was the accusation?

Andrew: … Well, uh-

Norine: We got a call… We were actually out of town.

Jim: Okay.

Norine: And, uh, we got a call from the church, somebody who was- uh, a Turkish brother who was at the church. He said, “The police are- have been coming here, they’re- they’re looking for you.” And so, we said, “Okay, you know, we’re out of town, we’re not here. We’ll be back in town tomorrow.” When we got back, we found a notice on our door saying, “Please report to the police station.” And because we had applied for long-term residence permits, we thought that that’s what-

Jim: Right.

Norine: … we were being called in for the final interview, and “Hey, it came in,” and this is good news.

Jim: Just a different type of long-term residency, right? I mean, seriously-

Andrew: … Well, [crosstalk]. (laughs)

Jim: … they were thinking prison, and you were thinking, just here for a long time.

Norine: I guess. (laughs)

Andrew: So, they didn’t have any accusation against us at the time. They just called us in, and they said, “Uh yo- there’s an order for deportation.” Then we found out very quickly, they had, uh, given us what was called the G82 Designation, which is threat to national security.

Jim: … Huh.

Andrew: And then they listed under that, “Terrorism.”

Jim: Huh. And what was that linkage, I mean, what was their rationale for that? Obviously, it was cut out of cloth, and there was no truth to that.

Norine: There was no truth-

Andrew: That’s just something they use when they want to deport someone. So, they wanted to… They’d already deported another missionary with a similar profile, who was working in a church and also was working with refugees from Syria. And right after we were arrested, another missionary friend of ours was also deported with the same profile.

Jim: But they were deported?

Andrew: They were deported. And so, there was an order to deport us, but what happened is they arrested us to hold us for deportation. Usually, they should take just one day or two days for an American, but it extended. And we came to see pretty quickly, there’s something unusual going on here, because they turned away the American Consulate who came to visit. They would not allow a Lawyer to come in, and we were kept, uh, isolated for 13 days.

Jim: Huh, and it was both of you?

Andrew: We were both together, which was really good (laughs) for me-

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: … that we were initially held together.

Jim: Yeah, and that was for a couple of weeks?

Andrew: Yes.

Jim: And then what happened?

Norine: … They suddenly released me with no explanation, you know, we didn’t know what was happening. And then, they transferred Andrew in the middle of the night, that night to another facility. And then there was another period of waiting. So, it was just this silence, they weren’t telling us anything.

Jim: How do you process that? I mean-… what- there’s no recourse, uh, it’s unlike the US Justice System-

Norine: Yeah.

Jim: … um, you don’t get to see a Lawyer, you’re not really represented by anybody. How did you maintain contact in that situation? Did you go visit him?

Norine: The next day, I- so, after I was released, I tried to go back that next day to, you know, just- he was gonna put something in the window, (laughs) and I was just gonna try to wave or something to him, just to see. And then, he- I got there, and, um, he wasn’t there, he had been moved. And so, then I went to try to find him at the next place-

Jim: Oh.

Norine: … and see him, so-

Andrew: So, I was held without, uh, contact, I was isolated. And I was taken to a- a different facility, held in solitary confinement then. Norine, uh, would come every day to that facility. Sometimes they would let her in to see me, sometimes they wouldn’t.

Jim: And, uh, did you make eye contact out the window, or what- how would you know that she was there?

Andrew: Well, in this detention facility, I actually did have a- a room that had a window. So, I could look out and see if our van had driven up.

Jim: Okay.

Andrew: So, uh, even if she-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: … wasn’t allowed to see me, at least I knew that she was still in the country, that I hadn’t been left completely alone.

Norine: … This was not a prison, this was a detention center, which is the only reason that he could actually look out, so, yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: Once I got into prison there were no windows. (laughs)

Norine: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, and how long were you in that detention center?

Andrew: Well, for another 50, 55 days.

John: Oh my.

Andrew: I think, uh, the- the detention time is 63 days.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Uh, some of it was with her, and then, I was put in, uh, solitary confinement, and that was really difficult for me, the solitary confinement time. After that I was transferred to a high security prison.

Jim: Was there any- at that point, any physical abuse, beatings or anything like that, torture?

Andrew: No, I never had, uh, torture during the time there.

John: Yeah, hmm. Well, we’re hearing just part of the incredible story from Andrew and Norine Brunson. Uh, it’s captured in the book that Andrew has written called God’s Hostage, A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment and Perseverance. Contact Focus on the Family for your copy. Our number’s 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, and the link is at focusonthefamily.com\broadcast. Jim: Uh, Norine let me ask you, uh, during that time, I- I can’t imagine what was going on in your heart. I mean, all the uncertainty, there’s no clarity, there’s not hearing dates set, you- you- he’s just being held. Andrew’s just being held.

Norine: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What were your emotions like? How old are your children at this point? And how are you holding it together?

Norine: Yeah, they were- so, our children at that time were 15, 18, and 21.

Jim: Wow.

Norine: Our oldest son had turned 21 the day we were arrested.

Jim: And were they still in country with you?

Norine: No, they were out of the country.

Jim: Okay.

Norine: And I was relieved about that. I was just happy to have them-

Jim: Relieved, but lonely.

Norine: … well, sure-

Jim: (laughs)

Norine: … but I was, uh, happy to have them safely out of the country, let me just put it that way.

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: Uh, I was relieved that they were not in any danger. Um, two older ones were in college, and the youngest was with Andrews family finishing high school.

Jim: And so back to those emotions for you…

Norine: Um, yeah, of course. Fear, you know, you name it, uh, a lot going on. There was such silence, we couldn’t get information, that was a difficulty, so I got a Lawyer. She couldn’t get to Andrew, she tri- was trying to get into Andrew and they were not letting her in.

Jim: A Turkish Lawyer?

Norine: A Turkish Lawyer, mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: That’s a difficulty in itself, who can you trust, who can you not trust. Now she was a good Lawyer. Um, later on we ended up having to change because she probably came under some pressure, but that was a challenge in itself.

Jim: Yeah. Well, I just- I think it’s an amazing thing to feel that helplessness. How were you leaning into the Lord?

Norine: Yeah, I had to. I had to. (laughs)

Jim: I mean, how were you doing it though? I mean, a lot of, uh, wives and moms may face something not like this-

Norine: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: … but they feel that isolation, they feel lonely-

Norine: Yeah.

Jim: … they don’t see where this is gonna end.

Norine: Right.

Jim: That was your moment-

Norine: Right.

Jim: … I mean, that would- that had to be what you were feeling.

Norine: Yeah. When they had clicked not only the, um, that we were a threat to national security, but also then, they checked the terrorism box-

Jim: Right.

Norine: … from that point on I was worried that something was up-

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: … that something was different. And, um, I didn’t know where that was going to lead, to be honest.

Jim: Yeah. Andrew, I wanted to ask you, your move to Iz-

Andrew: Actually, can I say something about Norine?

Jim: … Sure.

Andrew: What I saw is over the years, she was very consistent in setting aside time to spend with God.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Uh, even when we had young children and she was very, very busy, she would try to set aside time every day. And it’s not that she was having these great revelations every day in her quiet time, but it was very consistent. And what that did is it built a very deep reservoir in her. And so, then when we were held together, what I noticed, we were more like the Tortoise and The Hare. You know, I’d get real excited about what God, I’d just sprint forward, and then I’d kind of slack off, and then sprint again, but she was very consistent. And what I saw in those, uh, two weeks that we were held together, I thought, she’s doing better than I am.

Jim: Huh.

Andrew: And what she was doing was drawing from that deep reservoir.

Jim: Yeah, boy that’s a good word for all of us, to build that reservoir.

Norine: So, yeah, I mean, at this time also, I had to, I knew there was no option than to lean unto God. I couldn’t do it on my own-

Jim: Right.

Norine: … that’s for sure. I also wasn’t alone there, my f- kids weren’t there, but I had believers.

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: And so, I was not alone. I had people who would pray with me-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Norine: You know, unlike Andrew, who was really cut off.

Jim: Right. They eventually moved you to Sakran prison, is that how you pronounce that?

Andrew: Yeah, I’d been in… I was in solitary for about 50 days, and then they put me into a high security prison.

Jim: And that was that prison. And you were with, uh, cell mates, tell us about that and what that looked like.

Andrew: Well, they put me into a cell with, uh, very strong Muslims, they were all very committed Muslims, because they were- they were all accused of being part of a group called Fethullah Gulen Movement. Which, there had been a coup attempt in Turkey that summer, and that group was accused of being behind it.

Jim: And they- they would be more radical-

Andrew: And so, they were rounding them up.

Jim: … yeah.

Andrew: And they were very committed strong Muslims. Whatever else they may be, they’re a missionary society, an Islamic missionary society. They had started schools in 170 countries around the world to bring their version of Islam. So, these are the people I was kept with throughout my imprisonment.

Jim: And tell me about that, how did they interact with you? How big was the cell, how many people were with you in the cell?

Andrew: So, it was a cell built for eight people, but, uh, the prisons were very overcrowded, so we had over 20 people in our cell.

John: Oh my.

Andrew: And I’ve said that it was like, living in a Mosque. By the way, we never left the cell, 24\7 you stay in that cell. Your food is brought there, everything is done there. The only time we leave the cell is if we’re going to meet our Lawyer or something like that. So, it’s 24\7 in that environment, very crowded, with the same people. And I’ve said it was like living in a Mosque, but it was actually, there was more, uh, Islamic worship going on than you would have in a Mosque.

John: Hmm.

Andrew: Because in a Mosque you have five prayers a day. Here it was 24\7, there was every hour of the day or night there was someone praying or chanting the Koran or having a Koranic class. Because they were all desperate to get out, and they thought the way to do this was to you know, pray more. (laughs)

Jim: And they were being held because they were political prisoners, correct?

Andrew: They were political prisoners.

Jim: And how did that interaction occur with you? You’re sitting in the cell as a Christian. How- how did-

Andrew: Well, I was accused of being part of that Islamic group, which is very strange. The Turkish Government gave many reasons, changing reason, uh, over time for why they were holding me.

Jim: … Right.

Andrew: But they knew I was not part of an Islamic group, but they accused me of being part of that.

Jim: And how- again, how did those interactions play out for you as a Christian man with 20 or 19 M- deeply committed Muslim’s men?

Andrew: So, they knew that I was a Christian, clearly, and I had a clear witness to them. I would answer their questions, I would, uh, share the Gospel with them. Uh, there were some who were very friendly, there were some who were neutral and there were some who were hostile.

John: Was this a situation Andrew, where you had to just kind of stake out a little few square feet on the floor, and you- you’re just there surrounded by all these men?

Andrew: No, I staked out my bed. I was lucky in that I was one of the early people in that cell, uh, so I got a bed. And then as they stuffed it, then people slept on the floor as well.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: So, really the area that I had was the size of my mattress, where I was… I could say that was my personal space, but even that wasn’t, because I was… Uh, when I was, uh, lying down there was a face, you know, about eight inches away from mine.

Jim: Oh, my goodness. (laughs)

Norine: And he- and he was not a friendly face. (laughs)

Andrew: Yes, and then, not a friendly face.

Jim: Yeah. But that interaction, that had to just be emotional pressure the entire time. Norine, um, in the book you describe the sense of Andrew’s health declining. Describe what was happening and Andrew, certainly fill in the blanks, but what were you observing?

Norine: Just how very difficult it was for him. Uh, he was having a lot of panic attacks, a lot of anxiety, unable to sleep.

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: Uh, when you can’t sleep, when you can’t… You know, that just, uh, makes everything more difficult, I think. I think the stakes were very high, I think this was more than something, uh, targeting him-

Jim: Yeah, you- unknown-

Norine: … I think there was a whole lot, more going on in the Spiritual realm, and therefore, he was feeling all that Spiritual oppression.

Jim: … Ho- how did that manifest itself in your observations, when you were able to meet with him-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … what were you seeing that demonstrated that to you?

Norine: Just the stress-

Jim: Yeah.

Norine: … anxiety.

Jim: He wasn’t himself?

Andrew: If I can just say, I was a total wreck.

Jim: How so? Well, yeah.

Andrew: I mean, any time I talked with her, we would talk through glass with bars and on a phone. And it was a very limited time, and I- we never knew if we were going to be able to have that meeting. There’s one- once a week you’re supposed to be able to, uh, talk, but I never knew if I would have that, because I’m a foreigner and I didn’t have the same rights as the Turkish prisoners. Uh, so I was distraught. I would cry a lot during the time, I w- I was going into a relational crisis with God, a Spiritual crisis. And Norine had to speak truth to me and try to correct where I was thinking in a wrong way. Because one of the very difficult things is- was the sense of isolation I had.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Andrew: First, when I was in solitary confinement then I was really alone, but here I am in a very crowded cell, but I’m very isolated-

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: … in my faith. So, I’m isolated by my culture, life experience, uh, nationality, things like that, but what was really difficult was, I had… The only Christian I had any interaction with during the two years was with Norine on her visits.

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: Otherwise, I’m alone in my faith, and that was very, very difficult.

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: And I- I went into a relational crisis, and you probably will talk about that-

Jim: (laughs)

Andrew: … a little later. (laughs)

Jim: Well, I think getting the heart of that is now. I mean, and I so appreciate that aspect of your book, where you’re vulnerable with that. You know, a lot of men would say, “No, I was very strong, and I was there for the Lord.” That all sounds right, but that wasn’t the initial experience for you, and I- I appreciate that honesty. That you did struggle with God, you were having doubts, you were concerned about, I think what I read in the book, that you know, you were questioning why you were in this spot, which is completely normal.

Andrew: So, the thing that took me into crisis with God, were that my expectations of him were not met.

Jim: Hmm.

Andrew: So, I was deeply wounded in my heart. Some of that came from, I knew that what I was experiencing was persecution, but I had expected that I’d b- from all the biographies I’d read and just from my own walk with God, what I expected that he would do for me in difficulty, was that I would have a sense of strength, but I felt very weak. That I’d have a sense of joy, I just felt grief and loss. That I would have a sense of grace, and I did have grace as I look back. It’s very clear that I did, that brought me through, but it was an unfelt grace for the most part. And especially that I would have a sense of God’s presence. And so, wh- that sense of God’s presence, uh, was completely removed from me-

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: … after the first couple weeks. And so, I felt abandoned, and I- I… Everything was going wrong, it kept getting worse and worse. And I thought, where is my kind, gentle father?

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: And so that- that took me into questioning… This may ha- be hard for some people to believe, I have a hard time with it. I- I questioned God’s existence. This is after I’d been a missionary for 23 years.

John: Hmm.

Andrew: It was just the- the- pressure I was under, the lack of sleep, the fear, the panic attacks. I was feeling overwhelmed by this thing, “Where is God? Why aren’t you intervening in some way that will strengthen me?”

Jim: Yeah.

Andrew: And this took me into questioning existence. Then I said, “No, you most exist because you’re the only reason I’m being persecuted.” (laughs) But then it took me into really questioning God’s character, his love, his faithfulness, his goodness, his truth.

Jim: Well, and it so reminds us of Job or other Old Testament, uh, people who experienced that as well. And I think the application here, I mean, this is an extremely unique situation that you’re in as missionaries, in a Muslim country, being lied about, being held captive in prison without explanation. Not many of us are gonna experience that, but that sense of abandonment by God, now we’re starting to talk to people’s hearts. It- it- totally different set of circumstances of course, but that feeling like, “Father, where are you?” That’s what you’re describing.

Andrew: People, uh, sometimes begin to tell me a struggle they’re going through. And then they kind of pull back and say, “Well, you know, but Andrew, yours was really, really difficult, it do- mine can’t compare.”

Jim: Right.

Andrew: And I- I usually stop them and say, “You know, my tests were enough to knock me out of relationship with God.

Jim: Hmm.

Andrew: And your tests are more than enough to knock you out of friendship with God as well. So, we’re tested in different ways. You know, mine was a very intense prison experience, but we’re all tested in different ways, but the area of the heart that is tested is the same.”

Jim: Wow. Man, this is so good. And, uh, we have run out of time. We’ve got to come back tomorrow, continue the discussion-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … if I could keep you here to do that. And, uh, again, there’s so much application here. You may think like I just expressed, this is unique, but there are things you can learn. And next time, I’d like to talk about, um, the experiences in court, the trials, uh, kind of that shame you felt. And then, how the US Government got involved and aided your situation and helped you. Uh, if you can, can we come back and cover that?

Andrew: Absolutely.

Jim: Okay. I appreciate that. And your wonderful book God’s Hostage, A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment and Perseverance, I mean, this is right our of the writings of the Apostle Paul.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And what he experienced, and I wanna talk about that tomorrow, um, as that guided you. And I would encourage you to get this wonderful resource. Uh, you may not be locked up in prison, uh, but you may be locked up in other ways. And I think this read is not only to bolster your faith, uh, but to help you in your relationships, your perspective about God, your dependence upon Him, regardless of your circumstances. And I’m telling you, your faith will grow by reading this book.

John: Hmm. Call and donate as you can. Uh, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or stop by focusonthefamily.com\broadcast. Also, at the website, we’re gonna have links to how you can more effectively and consistently pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are facing persecution. So, be sure to check that out. Contact us today to get your copy of this great book, donate as you can, uh, we’re listener supported. Your monthly pledge, uh, a sustaining gift of any amount makes a big difference in stabilizing our budget from month to month and throughout the fiscal year. Um, or if you can make a one-time gift, uh, we sure would appreciate that as well. Either way, donate today to get your copy of God’s Hostage, A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment and Perseverance. The number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com\broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus On The Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we continue the story from the Brunson’s, and once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

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God's Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance

Receive Pastor Andrew Brunson's book God's Hostage for your donation of any amount!

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