- Well, welcome to the 700 Club.
Pastor Andrew Brunson spent two years
as a prisoner of Turkey andas the Trump Administration
fought for his release,Christians around the world
prayed for his safety.
- They did indeed.
Those prayers were answered one week ago
when Pastor Brunson walkedfree from a Turkish courtroom
and into the Oval Officewith President Trump
the very next day.
Gary Lane brings us the story.
From a Turkish prison to the White House.
24 hours after Andrew Brunson's release,
President Trump welcomedthe 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
again 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 the Kurds.
For that, the Turkishgovernment accused Brunson
of being a CIA agent, plottingwith Kurdish terrorists
to carry out the attempted coup.
Initially, the Turkishgovernment said it would free
Brunson, if the UnitedStates would send the accused
coup leader FethullahGulen back to Turkey.
Fearing Gulen would bekilled, President Trump
refused the exchange soBrunson 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 andprayed for the President
who helped 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 home, welcome theanswer to all our prayers.
And this is really a great moment for us.
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.
At the time, it's justsuch an overwhelming thing
to have the doors locked, 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--
- This is all around thetime of the coup, right?
- Right after it, yeah.
- And so this was part of that crackdown
where Erdogan is saying,"I'm going to get rid of all
"the political opposition."
- Yes, so when they hadcircled that on why we were
being detained whenthey 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?
- No, no.
- But you thought you 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 thirteen days later.
What was the firstimpulse, 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.- Were you in the same prison?
- We were in the same cell.
They put us together.
It was actually aholding place and not a--
- There were a number ofIsis people in other cells.
- But they put us together.
I was the only woman there.
So 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 separated.- They were saying,
we're gonna let you goand you were saying,
please let me stay in the cell?
- I wanted- Let me stay with my husband.
That's what she was saying.
- We wanted to just not be separated.
We didn't know what was coming.
- Now, you've got 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
the day we were arrested.
- We were arrested on his birthday.
- 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.
And I was very grateful for that.
They were all stateside.
So that was a stressful time for them.
Because they didn'tknow what was happening.
Nobody could get to us.
We couldn't see a lawyer, the US Consulate
couldn't get to us.
- That's a toughannouncement, when Mom and Dad
are in jail and we don't know why.
- Right, so we had a windowand we'd tried upstairs bars,
but we'd try to handsomething, wash a t-shirt,
hand it up there.
People would know we're still here
because we were afraidthe people didn't know
where we were.
- Alright, Andrew, let me turn to you.
Norine gets out.
What's going throughyour mind and your heart?
- 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.
- And you didn't get to see anyone
during that time?
- Over time, they allowed me to
see someone and then they wouldput me back into solitary.
And we had never countedthe cost of going to prison.
We counted other costs.
Anybody who's working achurch planting in Turkey
is gonna have threats.
We had death threats, wehad an attack on our church.
There was some danger at times.
- Those were usuallyfrom Muslim extremists?
You weren't expectinganything from the government?
- We weren't expectinganything from the government
and no one had been put in prison
for any period of time.
Just for short periodsof detention when they
were going to be departed.
So we had never counted the cost
and I think that wasone of the issues for me
is it hadn't crossed my mind.
And I also think I had amaybe naive or idealistic view
of what going to prison would be like.
From reading biographies, that it's just
full of joy and howwonderful to suffer for God.
And the truth is I often said,God you got the wrong man.
You chose the wrong man for this
because I'm very weak.
- Yeah, I'm not built for suffering.
- [Norine] Not that suffering.- Not for prison.
I counted to cost for other possibilities
but not for prison.
- Well during your timein prison, you got a copy
of the Bible.
And then you startedreally reading II Timothy
with a whole new light.
What in particular in II Timothy?
Well, I think Paul justpressing 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 turnas I came to a point
more of surrendering andsaying God, if this is
the role you have for meto play, if this is what
you want me to be doing in your service
then give me endurance and perseverance
so that I can make it to the end.
Because I feel very weak.
This has gone beyond what I can handle,
the idea of being,
now we look back and we saytwo 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 a big difficulty.
Am I going to see my children again?
- Was there a particularverse from II Timothy,
was it endure hardshiplike a good soldier?
Was it everyone in Asia has abandoned me?
I'm being poured outlike a drink offering?
There are a number of them in there.
- I think when he says, I've run the race,
I've finished the race and Ithought this is what I want.
I don't know how long this will go on.
Maybe the rest of my life.
But I wrote a song in prisonthat I sang every day.
I want to be found worthy,
I stand before you on that day
with no regrets, from cowardice
or things left undone.
And I began to pray Lord I,
when I stand before you, Idon't want to have regrets
that I didn't fully submit andserve your purposes in this.
So give me strength, giveme endurance that I can
make to the end 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, why?
- I needed to be there for him.
- How often would you get to see him?
- Once a week, when he was in prison.
While he was in the detention center,
they came to a pointwhere they were letting
me 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 through glass, on a telephone.
Thirty-five minutes in one prison
then at another prisonit went up to an hour,
which was like heaven to me.
A whole hour a week.
- An hour a week I get to have my wife.
- But she had to comein 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.
- I understand that onthe phone, you would put
your hand on the glassand start praying for him.
- Like this through the glass.
- [Gordon] Like that.
You couldn't touch but youcould contact through the glass.
What would you pray?
- Every week, I asked the Lord
what can I bring to him, whatcan I impart to him this week?
A lot of times it was the same thing.
But I did definitely try to do that.
And I would just go inalmost, I don't want to say
defiantly, but I would,sometimes I was very discouraged
even the night before.
What news do I have to givehim, what can I tell him
to encourage him?
I don't have much.
I said Lord, when I'm thisdiscouraged, how can I begin
to encourage him?
But the Lord would give grace often
and I would hold my headup and say I'm a daughter
of the king, I'm going into 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
around the world.
We're so grateful to youall for keeping this going.
We're just amazed by the people,
the places that peoplewere praying for us from.
So that was what held us up.
Secondly, I was tryingto just strengthen myself
in the Lord.
I did not get out of bedwithout help, lifting up
my hand and saying, Lord,I'm holding your hand.
You take me through this day.
I couldn't do it on my own.
So I need to strengthen myself
so I could help strengthen him.
- Alright take me to July this year.
Here, Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law
and Justice had beenworking behind the scenes
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.
There had been a number of disappointments
and so I think you justtry to guard your heart.
We really didn't know.
- [Gordon] You didn't know.
- 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.
- I tried to live
in a state of- Things fell apart
- Okay, so it didn't crush you?
You weren't disappointed?
- I was. (laughing)
- Of course we're disappointed every time.
Of course, but it wasn't, yeah.
- Did you understandthat this was essentially
a hostage situation?
Did you understand youwere a bargaining chip?
- From the human side, yeswe became aware of that.
And then from the spiritualside, we believe that God
was using this situationand one of the ways,
for example, is that somany people around the world
who had never though of Turkey before,
have now prayed for Turkey.
And we believe that this was an investment
in the harvest that's going to come there.
- What are you seeing in Turkey right now?
'Cause I'm hearing the same thing,
that Turkey, this is awhole new time for Turkey.
- It is.
- It's a difficult time and again
regarding hostage or whatever.
We just say, he says, his perspective
was from the cell.
So we leave that to thosewho are dealing in the
But we're looking moreat 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 harvest.
Spoke to him in 2009 andeverything since then
has been a preparation for harvest,
every step that we'vetaken, very deliberate.
And I believe that hisimprisonment was another
step in that.
- Did you ever think that the harvest
would come because youwould be put in jail?
- I thought it mightcome, start in prisons
and maybe that's why theLord wanted us there.
- We had received wordsbefore that we would
see the harvest.
But I said, oh God, Inever thought that I'd
be seeing 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 longer aMuslim, 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 injail, he would've been
talking to people in person.
So it forced it.
Do you see that?
- I wouldn't mentionmyself in the same sentence
with the Apostle Paul butI think I could relate
to him in some waysthat other people can't.
- I only relate to him if he's the Captain
of all sinner, then I'm theFirst Lieutenant. (laughing)
I'll let him have that position.
What's next for you guys?
Where are you going from here?
- We've been to missions for,
well we were in Turkey 25 years.
I have a missionarycalling, so does Norine.
We don't know where or how.
But that's what we want to be doing.
I've said before, I'vebeen preaching 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.- [Gordon] Same chair.
- [Andrew] So I thought thatwas appropriate. (laughing)
- [Gordon] I thinkthat's very appropriate.
- Within 24 hour, it waslike a Joseph situation
because I was, a weekago today, I was 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, wewere praying for the President.
- To go back to your previous question,
Turkey is still on our hearts.
So we're even now, just stillin contact with people there.
It will remain in ourhearts whatever else we do.
- Well I would encourageyou, there's plenty
you can do outside ofTurkey that will have impact
inside Turkey and intoday's internet world,
and connected world you don't physically
have to be there.
And you can preach a lot in Turkey.
You've got a new platform
and a new opportunity.
- Platforms are here oneday and gone the next.
And I think Jesus made it very simple.
Love God with all of your heart
and love other people.
So we know we can pursuethat wherever we are.
- I'll quote the Bible to you.
The door that God opens, no one can shut.
It's not gonna go away.
You're gonna have an open door
and nobody's gonna be able to shut this.
- Amen, alright.