Two years in filthy Turkish prisons reaped for pastor Andrew Brunson a spiritual “hunger, desperation and running after God” that he hasn’t felt since his release.
“I find that I don’t miss prison; I wouldn’t want to go back,” Brunson told Baptist Press Tuesday (Oct. 8), after nearly a year of freedom. “But the conditions there drove me to seek God with such desperation, and now that I’m out, and I don’t have those things driving me, then there’s a lessening, a slackening of that hunger and desperation and running after God, and I actually miss that from prison.
“I prayed a lot more because of that desperation, and I ended up structuring my day around prayer.”
Brunson was arrested in October, 2016, solely because of his faith and American nationality, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded nearly two months after his Oct. 11, 2018, release, he said.
“The conditions of my imprisonment — the fear and the isolation and the anxiety — they realty tested me,” Brunson told BP, “but what they also did is they tested me to seek God as never before. I was just running after Him with desperation, because it was a matter of spiritual survival for me.”
Brunson and his wife Norine had been arrested under false pretenses that they were being deported to the U.S., but their anticipated departure turned into a prison sentence for him on false charges including espionage and undermining the constitutional order of the state.
Norine was released, but Brunson’s ordeal intensified with 50 days of solitary confinement.
“When they want to break people, they isolate them and they deprive them of sleep. Isolation and sleep deprivation are very potent weapons,” Brunson told BP. “My body deprived me of sleep because I was so stressed out that the adrenalin and cortisol were just rampaging through my body all the time and I couldn’t sleep, so I was exhausted and isolated, and just going crazy.
“And what saved me in those 50 days of solitary confinement was structuring my day around prayer.”
Brunson used a prayer and Scripture booklet guards mistakenly allowed him to keep, “Prayers to Strengthen the Inner Man,” by Mike Bickel.
“Those were like gold to me, those Bible verses, because I didn’t have a Bible with me,” Brunson told BP. “I would just memorize those and repeat them and pray those Bible verses and then pray the prayers … and structure my whole day around them.”
The sought-after Presbyterian pastor had just finished an interview with Voice of the Martyrs in Bartlesville, Okla., when he spoke with BP. A North Carolina native, he and Norine are currently staying in Kansas City, Mo., while transitioning to a new home.
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Source: Baptist Press