- From a Turkish prisonto the White House.
24 hours after Andrew Brunson's release,
President Trump welcomed the pastor
and his wife, Norine, to the Oval Office.
Brunson expressed their appreciation.
- We especially want tothank the administration.
You really fought for us, unusually so.
- [Gary] Brunson's return homewas a long time in coming,
a two year ordeal.
Turkish police arrestedthe North Carolina pastor
in October 2016, three monthsafter a failed coup attempt
against Turkey President Erdogan.
The Brunsons served therefor more than 20 years,
where they establishedIzmir Resurrection Church,
they openly shared Christ, andalso helped Syrian refugees,
some of them Kurds.
For that, the Turkishgovernment accused Brunson
of being a CIA agent, plottingwith Kurdish terrorists
to carry out the attempted coup.
Initially, the Turkish governmentsaid it would free Brunson
if the United States wouldsend the accused coup leader,
Fethullah Gulen, back to Turkey.
Fearing Gulen would be killed,
President Trump refused the exchange
so Brunson remained incarcerated.
Last July, instead of releasing Brunson,
Turkish officials placedhim under house arrest.
Afterwards, PresidentTrump imposed sanctions
on two government officialsand pledged tougher sanctions
if Turkey did not free Brunson.
Christians around theworld continued to pray,
and on October 13th, 24hours after his release,
Andrew Brunson knelt and prayed
for the President whohelped win his freedom.
- May he be a greatblessing to our country.
In Jesus' name, we bless you.
- Well, Pastor Andrew and hiswife, Norine, are here with us
and it's great to have you here.
Welcome, the answer to all our prayers.
And this is really a great moment for us.
Well, Norine, let me begin with you.
I think Andrew's gettingall the headlines,
but you got put in prison too.
What was that like for you?
- It was a surprise.
We never saw that coming.
You know, at the time, it'sjust such an overwhelming thing
to have the doors locked.
It's very solidly.
Your phone is taken away,
no one knows where weare, what's gonna happen.
It was a state of emergencyat the time in Turkey
and so I thought
are we going to--- This is all around
the time of the coup, right?
- Right after it, yeah.
- And so this was partof that crackdown...
- Where Erdogan is saying
I'm going to get rid of allof the political opposition.
So when they had circled onwhy we were being detained,
when they circled terrorism,
I thought something is wrong here
and I honestly wondered ifI'd see my kids ever again.
- Were you afraid for your safety?
- Okay.- No.
- [Gordon] But you thoughtyou would be in prison
the rest of your life.
- I didn't know.- You didn't know.
- That sounds dramatic, but you really,
at that time, we didn't know.
- You got out 13 days later.
What was the first impulse?
What did you want to do right then?
- Actually, I wanted tonot be separated from him,
so that was very difficultfor us because we didn't know,
we really were pushing to stay together.
I didn't know where they would take him,
if I would know or not.
- [Gordon] Were you in the same prison?
- We were in the same cell.
They put us together.
- They put us together, okay.- I was the only woman.
It was actually a holding place,
not a--- And a number of ISIS people
in other cells.
- But they put us together.
I was the only woman there.
- Okay.- So that was,
that worked out well.- She was arguing with them,
asking to stay with me.
So this is how much she loves me.
- We didn't want to be- They were saying
- separated.- they were gonna let you go
and you were saying please let me stay
in the cell?- Yes.
- I wanted to be--- Let me stay with my husband
is what she was saying.
- We wanted to just not be separated.
We didn't know what was coming.
- [Gordon] Now, you'vegot children, right?
- I do.
- What are the ages?
- At the time, it was 15, 18,
and our son had just turned 20.
He was turning 21 theday we were arrested.
- [Gordon] Wow.
- We were arrested on his birthday.
- Wow.- Yeah.
- We took that as a sign from God
that he was involved inthe timing of our arrest.
- [Gordon] What happened to them?
I assume they were with you in Turkey.
- They were not,
- They were not.- and I was very grateful
They were all stateside.
So that was a stressful time for them
because they didn'tknow what was happening
and nobody could get to us.
We couldn't see a lawyer.
The US Consulate couldn't get to us
and so there was just- Yeah, that's a tough
no information.- announcement that mom
and dad are in jail and we don't know why.
So we had a window, upstairs bars,
but we would try to hang something,
wash a tee shirt, hang it up there,
people would know we're still here
because we were afraid thepeople didn't know where we were.
- All right, Andrew, let me turn to you.
Norine gets out.
What's going throughyour mind and your heart?
- Well, my big fear was thatI would be separated from her
and it happened.
After that, I was moved toanother detention center
and was in solitary for about 50 days.
And that was really difficult.
We had--- And you didn't
get to see anyone during that time?
- Over time, they allowedme to see someone,
and then they would putme back into solitary.
We had never counted thecosts of going to prison.
We'd counted other costs.
Anybody who's working andchurch planting in Turkey
is going to have threats.
We had death threats, wehad an attack on our church.
There was some danger at times,
but I had--- Those were usually
from Muslim extremists?
You weren't expectinganything from the government?
- We weren't expectinganything from the government
and no one had been put inprison for any period of time,
just for short periods of detention
when they were going to be deported.
So we had never counted the costs
and I think that wasone of the issues for me
is it hadn't crossed my mind.
And I also, I think, I had a maybe naive
or idealistic view of whatgoing to prison would be like
from reading biographies,just that it's full of joy
and how wonderful to suffer for God.
The truth is I often saidGod, you got the wrong man,
you chose the wrong man for this
because I'm very weak.
- [Gordon] Yeah, I'mnot built for suffering.
- Not that suffering.- Certainly not for prison.
I'd counted the costsfor other possibilities,
but not for prison.
- Well during your time in prison,
you got a copy of the Bible,
and then you startedreally reading 2 Timothy
with a whole new light.
What in particular in 2 Timothy?
- Well, I think Paul just pressing on
and being faithful to the end.
And this is what I began to pray.
The first year, I was reallybroken down in many ways
and things began to turn
as I came to a point more of surrendering
and saying God, if this is therole you have for me to play,
if this is what you want meto be doing in your service,
then give me endurance and perseverance
so that I can make it to theend because I feel very weak.
I can't, this has gonebeyond what I can handle,
the idea of being...
Now we look back and we say two years,
two years isn't that long,
but when we're going through it,
they wanted to give methree life sentences,
aggravated life sentences,
which would mean solitary confinement
for the rest of my life.
So when we're in the midst of that,
we don't know what's ahead of us,
and that was the big difficulty.
Am I going to see my children again?
- Was there a particularverse from 2 Timothy?
Was it endure hardshiplike a good soldier?
Was it everyone in Asia has abandoned me?
- There were a number of them.- I'm being poured out
like a drink offering.
There are a number of them in there.
- Yeah, I think when he says
I've run the race, I've finished the race,
I thought this is what I want.
I don't know how long this will go on,
maybe the rest of mylife, but I want to...
I wrote a song in prisonthat I sang every day.
It's I want to be found worthy
to stand before you on that day
with no regrets from cowardiceor things left undone.
And I began to pray, Lord,when I stand before you,
I don't want to have regrets
that I didn't fully submit andserve your purposes in this,
so give me strength, give me endurance,
so that I can make it to theend and run the race well.
- Amen, amen.
Norine, you're out of prison,
you have an opportunity to leave Turkey
'cause I assume you know there's a risk
you could be arrested again
and used as yet anotherbargaining chip by the government.
You chose not to.
- I needed to be there for him.
- [Gordon] How oftenwould you get to see him?
- Once a week when he was in prison.
While he was in the detentioncenter, they came to a point
where they were lettingme see him every day.
- [Andrew] For a coupleof weeks that went on.
- And then in prison, it was once a week.
- Once a week.
So for two years, once a week?
- And it's through glass
on a telephone.- On a phone.
- 35 minutes in one prison,
then at another prisonit went up to an hour,
which was like heaven to me, a whole hour
- every week.- An hour a week,
I get to have my wife
talk to me.- But she had to come in
and carry my weight in many ways.
She was the only personwho could speak truth to me
and encourage me and correctmy wrong ways of thinking
and my panic.
So the Lord really usedher to keep me going.
- Norine, I understand that, on the phone,
you would put your hands on the glass
- Yeah.- and start praying for him.
- Like just through the glass.
- Like this.- Like that.
- [Gordon] You couldn'ttouch, but you could contact
through the glass.
- Right.- What would you pray?
- Every week, I asked theLord what can I bring to him,
what can I impart to him this week.
A lot of times, it was the same thing,
but yeah, I did definitely try to do that.
And I would just go in almost,
I don't want to saydefiantly, but I would...
Sometimes I was very discouragedeven the night before.
What news do I have to give him?
What can I tell him to encourage him?
I don't have much.
I said, "Lord, when I'm this discouraged,
"how can I begin to encourage him?"
But the Lord would give grace often
and I would kind of hold my head up,
say I'm a daughter of the king,
I'm going in to see a son of the king,
and just go in verydeliberately like that.
The Lord gave grace.
There were a lot of people praying for us,
as you know, around the world.
We're so grateful to youall for keeping this going.
We're just amazed by the people,
the places that peopleare praying for us from.
So that was what held us up.
Secondly, I was trying to just
strengthen myself in the Lord.
I did not get out of bedwithout lifting up my hand,
saying Lord, I'm holding your hand,
you take me through this day.
I couldn't do it on my own.
So I needed to strengthen myself
so I could help strengthen him.
- All right, take me to July of this year.
Here, Jay Sekulow, AmericanCenter for Law and Justice,
had been working behind thescenes advocating for you.
The Trump administration seemsto have worked out a deal
and you're expectingAndrew to get released.
- I don't know that I was
expecting it.- Oh, really?
- There'd been a number of disappointments
and so I think you justtry to guard your heart.
- [Gordon] So you were--
- I, I, we really didn't know.
- You didn't know.- No.
I didn't know.
- When it came out thathe wasn't released,
I know there was a shock
through the American Christian world.
We all expected that it wasfinally going to be over.
- We had hoped and she hadpacked her bags several times.
- Tried to live in state of
being somewhat prepared.- Things fell apart
- [Gordon] Okay, yeah.
So it didn't crush you.
You weren't disappointed.
- I was. (laughs)
- I mean, of course we'redisappointed every time.
But, you know, it wasn't, yeah.
- Did you understand
that this was essentiallya hostage situation?
Did you understand thatyou were a bargaining chip?
- From the human side, yes,we became aware of that.
And then from the spiritual side,
we believe that God wasusing this situation
and one of the ways, for example,
is that so many people around the world
who'd never thought of Turkey before
have now prayed for Turkey,
and we believe that this was an investment
and the harvest is going to come there.
- What are you seeing in Turkey right now?
'Cause I'm hearing the same thing,
that Turkey, that this is awhole new time for Turkey.
- [Andrew] It is.
- It's a difficult time.
And again, you know,regarding hostage or whatever,
we just say, he says...
His perspective was fromthe cell so we leave that
to those who are dealing inthe administration government.
But we're looking at moreof the spiritual side
and what this is doing, whatthis time is doing in Turkey.
The Lord has spoken to us very clearly
that there will be a harvest,spoke to him in 2009,
and everything since then
has been a preparation for harvest.
Every step that we'vetaken, very deliberate.
And I believe that his imprisonment
was another step in that.
- Did you ever think thatthe harvest would come
because you would be put in jail?
- I thought it mightcome, start in prisons,
and maybe that's why theLord wanted us there.
- We had received words before
that we would see theharvest, but I said oh God,
I never thought that I'd beseeing it from inside prison,
that's not fair, that'snot what I expected.
But the harvest has not started yet,
but there's been a lotof prayer that's gone in.
And we see a lot of people now,
because of the difficultiesTurkey has gone through,
many people are startingto come into our church
saying I'm no longerMuslim, I've become a deist.
And we hadn't seen this before,
so people are starting to seek more.
- Do you identify morewith the apostle Paul?
He saw a harvest from inside a jail cell.
I like to remind people thebulk of the New Testament
was written in a jail cell.
He wrote all his letters from there.
If he hadn't been in jail,
he would've been talkingto people in person.
So it forced it.
Do you see that?
- Well, I wouldn't mention myself
in the same sentencewith the apostle Paul,
but I think I could relate to him
in some ways that other people can't.
I only relate to him that
if he's the captain of all sinners,
well then I'm the first lieutenant.
I'll let him have that position.
What's next for you guys?
Where are you going from here?
- We've been in missions for,
well, we were in Turkey 25 years.
I have a missionary calling.
So does Norine.
We don't know where or how,
but that's what we want to be doing.
I've said before I've beenpreaching Jesus Christ
for 25 years in Turkey.
I want to continue servinghim until the day I die.
- Do you realize theplatform you've been given?
'Cause here, 24 hoursafter you were in jail,
you're praying for thePresident of the United States.
- I also think of President Erdogan
sat in the chair next to President Trump
and President Trump asked for my release.
And a year and a half later,
I sat in the same chair.- Same chair.
- [Andrew] Yes, so I thoughtthat was appropriate.
- [Gordon] I think that's very
appropriate.- But within 24 hours,
it was like a Joseph situation
because a week ago today, Iwas standing before judges
and they were clearly going to convict me
of being a terrorist,
and we didn't know how manyyears they would give me.
And then, within 24 hours,
we were praying for the President.
- To go back to your previous question,
Turkey is still on ourhearts, so we're, even now,
just still in contact with people there.
It will remain in ourhearts whatever else we do.
- Well, I would encourage you,
there's plenty you cando outside of Turkey
that will have impact inside Turkey.
And in today's internetworld and connected world,
you don't physically have to be there
and you can preach a lot in Turkey.
You've got a new platformand a new opportunity.
- Platforms are here oneday and gone the next.
And I think Jesus made it very simple.
Love God with all of yourheart and love other people.
So we know we can pursuethat wherever we are,
whether we have
a platform or not.- I'll quote the Bible to you.
The door that God opens, no one can shut.
- Amen.- Yes.
- It's not gonna go away.
You're gonna have an open door
and nobody's gonna be able to shut this.
- Amen.- Amen.