Pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested and held prisoner in Turkey for two years because of his Christian faith. Now, Brunson is warning that hostility towards Christians in America will increase.
Andrew Brunson served on the mission field in Turkey for over two decades, but he spent his last two years there in a prison until the Trump administration intervened diplomatically and negotiated his release. At a recent virtual prayer event, Brunson warned that hostilities against Christians are increasing in the United States and will quickly ramp up to full-blown persecution. He said that only by drawing close to God will Christians be able to stand.
Brunson recently spoke at the virtual event, Global Prayer for U.S. Election Integrity, stating: “The pressures that we’re seeing in our country now are going to increase, and one of these pressures is going to be hostility toward people who embrace Jesus Christ and His teaching, who are not ashamed to stand for Him.”
He noted that for most of America’s history, Christians have been spared persecution because “generations before ours honored God.” While America was not perfect and had “many sins,” many of our leaders honored God.
Brunson warned that rising hostilities are evidenced in things such as “cancel culture,” de-platforming, censorship, and even financial transactions.
While the virtual event was about election integrity, Brunson said that his greatest trepidations are not about the election but on the rising hostility towards Christians in the media and the business world. He said that his concerns first arose when he returned to the U.S. after being released from prison — and those concerns have only grown.
“Whoever ends up prevailing in this election, I believe that persecution is still coming, and it’s coming quickly and it’s coming soon … So if President Trump prevails, it will delay persecution at a government level, but this will not keep us from the hostility that’s rising in our society toward followers of Jesus.”
He claimed that those who persecute Christians will justify their actions by calling Christians “evil.” Brunson added, “I want to mention here that Jesus was the most loving, kind person in history, and yet He was called evil, and people are not going to just disagree with us. They will say that we are evil and they will justify everything they do to us because they will paint us as evil people.”
Brunson fears that Christians in America are not ready for the persecution he sees on the horizon. “Not being prepared is very, very dangerous on a number of levels,” Brunson said, adding that he believes one of the purposes God had for him “was to learn this perseverance so I could help to prepare others to persevere.”
This isn’t the first time Brunson has sounded the alarm. He shared a similar message at the National Religious Broadcasters Christian Media Convention in March. “I feel a sense of urgency in my heart for this generation in my country,” the pastor stressed.
“I feel it especially for my children’s generation that they’re not prepared to stand. I’m not sure that everyone in this room is ready to stand for Jesus without apology. We need to prepare ourselves now. We need to make decisions now about our commitment to Jesus because otherwise, the natural tendency when difficulty comes is to fear. And when we’re afraid, the natural instinct is to run away, is to compromise.”
Brunson said that it is normal to be afraid, but what matters is how Christians react to that fear. “I was actually very afraid,” Brunson said of his time while in prison. “The issue, actually, is what we do when we’re afraid.”
What will motivate Christians to be courageous and stand? The First Commandment, he answered. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” he said. “This is what fuels endurance, what fuels perseverance.”
In March, Brunson also pushed the Church in America to stand up and stand firm for its right to freely worship God without repercussion. He stated:
“If the U.S. huddles in the darkness, there will be grave consequences for many other countries because the U.S. has been one of the main mission-setting basis in the world. Great blessing has flowed from the American church to other countries. So the choices we make that we make here now will have consequences both for us here, for our generations here, but also for the coming generations and for many others around the world.”
Brunson said he did not want to bring a “dark” message and ended his speech at the virtual event with a word of encouragement from scripture. The pastor referenced Daniel 11:32, NASB, which says, “But the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”
If anyone would know what it is like to be persecuted for the faith, it’s Brunson, who has said that he was “repeatedly broken” during his imprisonment. Despite that ordeal, he credits God with “rebuilding” him and teaching him perseverance. While American Christians do not currently experience the type of persecution that others around the world do, Brunson recognizes its rise. Standing for religious freedom is not selfish, it is for the benefit of all. If hostilities towards Christians continue to increase in the U.S., persecution will grow. America was founded to be a nation where what happened to Brunson in Turkey would be unthinkable. However as cancel culture grows, churches are forced to close due to COVID-19, and pastors are threatened for holding worship services, this no longer seems so foreign.