October 16, 2018
It's been a whirlwind few days for the Brunson family, who's still adjusting to seeing Pastor Andrew in front of cameras -- not behind bars. From his home church near the Black Mountains to U.S. senators, Americans everywhere are celebrating the return of one of their own.
At Christ Community Church in North Carolina, where the congregation had gathered regularly to pray for the Brunsons, a spokeswoman said they spent this past Sunday rejoicing instead. Members and staff were "doing the happy dance and shouting hallelujah," she told reporters. And they weren't the only ones. Senators, House members, and administration officials -- many of whom had worked the better part of two years for Pastor Brunson's release -- were beside themselves with relief. "Our God still reigns over the affairs of nations," Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told me on yesterday's "Washington Watch." "It looked very, very bleak... And yet, it is the prayers of brothers and sisters across the globe that have been lifted up [and answered]."
This morning, people finally had the chance to hear from Pastor Brunson on ABC's "Good Morning America," where he explained how much strength he gained just from knowing Christians were interceding on his behalf. "This is one of the very surreal things... we're not known people. We're not very important people. We've been working in Turkey in obscurity for a number of years. But around the world, millions of people in many countries were praying for us. And even though this caused us a lot of hurt, I think that God is using this -- was planning this -- to bring blessing to Turkey. Now there are millions of people praying for Turkey."
"At this point," he explained, "I'm one of the most hated men in Turkey, probably." But it wasn't always that way. "Our purpose in going to Turkey was to tell people about Jesus Christ. We did that very openly, and we were never involved in anything political." They were absolutely shocked by their arrest. "The way I survived that was by just spending hours in prayer, just to keep my sanity." Some of those prayers, he explained, were for the president. So it was all the more meaningful when he had the chance to pray for the president with the president.
The Brunsons certainly had a champion in this president, Rep. Meadows pointed out. "Sometimes administrations are not willing to put the full force of the United States government in diplomatic negotiations. And yet this president and this administration did so... He deserves an unbelievable gratitude -- not just from Republicans and Democrats or unaffiliated -- but for those who believe in religious liberty."
For more on Pastor Brunson and my experience in Turkey, don't miss my interview with Fox News's Shannon Bream from Monday night.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.