ASHEVILLE, N.C. —WORLD Magazine has named Andrew Brunson its 2018 Daniel of the Year.
Read WORLD Senior Editor, Mindy Belz’s, full article on her discussion with Andrew Brunson in the most recent issue of WORLD Magazine, or at wng.org/daniel2018.
Detained in Turkey and faced with charges of espionage and terrorism, Pastor Andrew Brunson was looking at a life sentence for serving the church. Brunson and his wife, Norine, were missionaries and church planters in Izmir, Turkey for 23 years.
His case quickly expanded into a major foreign policy issue with far-reaching ramifications, both geographically and relationally. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan viewed Brunson’s case as a vehicle for reversing his reputation with hardline Islamist allies in the area. In his eyes, holding Brunson captive was also a possible means of garnering U.S. concessions. President Donald Trump made Brunson’s release a priority to appease evangelical supporters and to flex American muscle in Middle East relations.
After the charges against him were read in his first trial, Brunson gave a six-hour rebuttal in flawless Turkish. “I reject all the accusations in this indictment,” he stated. “I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My purpose here in Turkey is to tell people about Jesus and help disciple those who believe in Him. I have not been involved in any illegal activity.”
During the first year of imprisonment, he was overwhelmed with fear and grief. According to WORLD senior editor Mindy Belz, Brunson stated, “If I’d been let out after the first year, I’d have been lying on the floor, curled in a fetal position with PTSD. The second year God started to rebuild me.”
Once Brunson’s travel ban was lifted and he was released from time served, he and his wife returned home with Turkish police and US diplomats in tow. They quickly packed thirteen bags and boarded a flight to Germany, then Washington, D.C., within a matter of hours. Almost two years to the day Brunson had expected to receive a permanent resident visa, his future in Turkey had completely dissolved. The Brunsons then met with Trump in the Oval Office and traveled to New York for interviews before returning to the church and community they once called home in the United States.
About the Daniel of the Year Award
WORLD’s Daniel of the Yearis annually bestowed upon a person or persons who exhibit bravery in defense of God’s authority by helping the persecuted.
WORLD News Group is a nonprofit organization that produces WORLD Magazine, WORLD Radio, and WORLD Digital. Its mission is to provide biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires. Learn more at wng.org.