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Turkish Court Rules To Free Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson released by Turkish Court

(Voice of the Persecuted) A Turkish court has ordered the release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson. After two long years of detention on false charges, Andrew will be coming home and able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. Brunson and his wife, originally from North Carolina, moved to Turkey 23 years ago. Andrew led the Izmir Resurrection Church with a congregation of about 25. The couple had raised their family of three children in Turkey and had applied for permanent residency.

Case background: On Oct. 7, the couple was called to a local police station never imagining there was anything to be worried about. They went to the police station thinking they were finally approved for residency. At the station, they were initially told to leave the country because Andrew was accused of receiving funds from abroad to fund missionary initiatives that Turkey claimed would endanger the security of the country with their activities. Later, the Turkish press reported that the decree of expulsion for the Evangelical pastor had been transformed into arrest after a secret witness accused him of having ties with a terror organization. Later, more secret witnesses accused him of espionage. Many believed he was a political pawn used to force the US to extradite Fethullah Gülen who is considered an enemy of the Turkish government and living in self-exile in Pennsylvania for years.

Andrew spent much of his time in a cell with limited contact and his health deteriorated. Andrew lost 50 lbs., told he was forgotten and suffered from depression. The only thing that sustained him was his faith in God and love for his family.

Trial hearings: During the last 3 trials, Andrew shared his love for Christ and the Turkish people. He firmly denied all accusations against him and said, “My service that I have spent my life on, has now turned upside down. I was never ashamed to be a server of Jesus, but these claims are shameful and disgusting.” After the last hearing in July, he was taken back to prison, but due to health concerns he was released under house arrest and put under a travel ban. At today’s hearing, the Turkish prosecutor asked that Brunson be given a 10 year prison sentence,

During the today’s hearing it was reported that three witnesses withdrew their statements against Brunson after reports that the U.S. and Turkey were negotiating a secret deal for his release. Another report shared of the four witnesses who had earlier testified against Brunson, one claimed reading the allegations in the news, another said he was misunderstood by the judge, and the last two claimed that they first heard the allegations from one another. While the trial was ongoing, Former Turkish member of parliament Aykan Erdemir said that witnesses who have appeared at the hearing are now changing their testimony. This would clear the way for the judge to dismiss the case. Turkey has been suffering by the U.S. economic sanctions placed on the country when Brunson wasn’t released at the last hearing. Turkish agencies began reporting his release would be a partial unblocking of the terrible U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Today, Andrew told the court, “I am and innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey.” Witnesses at the hearing shared that Pastor Brunson wept when the court ruling was announced. We expect many happy tears are flowing with his in the Body of Christ, globally.

Homecoming: The U.S. military is expected to fly Andrew back to the United States., U.S. officials told Reuters that Brunson could return to the United States as soon as Friday. A Pentagon spokeswoman told Reuters that the expected plan involved flying Brunson through Germany on the way back to America but did not specify the timing.

Our Victory in Christ

Giving God all the glory, Christians around the world are rejoicing and singing praise to the Lord for this victory. Andrew’s release is an answer to many fervent prayers. We are thankful to all those who allowed the Lord to guide them for his release. Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch would like to thank those who prayed on yesterday’s prayer conference call event for Andrew. What beautiful prayer call full of joy and anticipation for what the Lord is doing. It felt more like a family reunion, in love and agreement, with some we’ve never met. The top key words throughout the day were, forward and dance. Lois Kanalos of Voice of the Persecuted said, “I kept seeing Andrew dancing in the courtroom like David for the Lord! I imagine he did, if only in his heart. Now he and the church in Turkey can move FORWARD…onward soldiers!”

We will continue to pray for Andrew’s transition and healing from his ordeal. Let us also pray for the church in Turkey to be bold and a shining light in the darkness.

Now in this present age or later in glory…victory!
(Romans 8: 26-39) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Ministries host open prayer conference call for Andrew Brunson

(Voice of the Persecuted) For years, relations between the U.S. and Turkey have been deteriorating and, among other issues, critically affected by the detention of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson. Andrew has lived in Turkey for 23 years and is a pastor for the Izmir Diriliş (Resurrection) Church, a small evangelical Presbyterian congregation in the city of Izmir. He’s been unjustly detained since October 7, 2016 on charges of espionage and links to terror organizations which he firmly denies. Many believe Brunson is nothing but a political pawn in Turkey’s quest to force the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gülen, who is considered an enemy of the Turkish government and living in self-exile in Pennsylvania for years.

During the first 18 months before his first trial hearing Andrew lost 50 lbs. and suffered extreme depression. Pastor Brunson’s first court trial hearing was on April 16, 2018, the second hearing took place on May 7; a third hearing on July 18. His fourth hearing is scheduled for October 12, 2018. The 50 year old pastor is facing a 35-year prison sentence if convicted by the Turkish court.

Through U.S. pressure, many hoped that Andrew would be released at the previous hearing on 18 July, but the judge ordered Andrew stay in detention. Reports claim that following an international outcry, the court ruled on July 25 that Andrew could be released from prison and be kept under house arrest due to health concerns.

Pastor Andrew Brunson released from Turkish prison and put under house arrest

On October 2, Ismail Cem Halavurt, Andrew’s lawyer, took Andrew’s case to the Constitutional Court hoping the claims against Andrew will be rejected and Andrew released from house arrest.

Turkish Christians and friends of Andrew Brunson are requesting prayer for the upcoming hearing.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, our brother is now entering his third year in prison in Turkey for his faith in Jesus. Please let us…….
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••• Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 2 Tmothy 2:8-9•••
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•••  Remember his imprisonment. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18 •••
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••• Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourself were suffering bodily. •••
Hebrews 13:3
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Brothers and sisters let us unite in prayer and remember Andrew Brunson as his trial comes up this coming Friday October 12th. We invite you to join us during a special prayer conference call this coming Thursday, October 11th for our brother who is bound for the gospel of Jesus. Let us pray for the gospel to go forth in Turkey and the surrounding nations and as a result of Andrew’s imprisonment. We will also remember the persecuted church in Turkey and around the world in our prayers. We believe prayers are heard and answered. Stay on the call 7 minutes, 7 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Lord willing, I look forward to praying with you on the 7 hour call.

Details for the call are below. Please, join us and let us remember all those who are in the shadow of the cross.

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

pwprayercall@gmail.com

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

PRAYER CONFERENCE CALL details

Location: Any location from your phone

When: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018

Length of call: 7 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 7 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)

Time of the Call:

3 p.m.-10 p.m. Eastern time

2 p.m.-9 p.m. Central time

1 p.m.-8 p.m. Mountain time

12 p.m.-7 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

PRINT PRAYER CALL FLYERView and download printable PDF flyer here

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier.Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International Conference Call Numbers
(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

(Though not expected, due to circumstances beyond our control, connection may be lost. Simply call again to rejoin the call. Please let us know if you were unsuccessful getting on the call so we can address the issue with technical support.)

Andrew Brunson’s daughter testifies at the first U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Jacqueline (Brunson) Furnari addresses Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom about her father’s imprisonment by the Turkish government

See video: Jacqueline Furnari, daughter of Andrew Brunson, testifies to the U.S. State Department’s inaugural Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., on July 24, 2018. Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since October 7, 2016, and is being tried on charges of terrorism, espionage, and attempting to convert Turks to Christianity.

Home after 21 months, but US pastor Andrew Brunson now can’t leave house till October trial

Pastor Andrew Brunson released from Turkish prison and put under house arrest

A crowd of Turkish Christians from Andrew Brunson’s Izmir Resurrection Church greeted their pastor with cries of “We love you, Andrew!” as he arrived home under police escort on Wednesday afternoon, 25 July.

(World Watch Monitor) After nearly 22 months in detention, Brunson was released at 5.30pm from Izmir’s Kiriklar maximum security prison and transferred to house arrest following a court order responding to his lawyer’s appeal, which cited health reasons.

However, the pastor will now not be allowed to leave the confines of his home until his next hearing, scheduled for 12 October.

Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for 23 years, has been on trial for terrorism and spying charges – of having links with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Ankara government blames for the failed July 2016 coup attempt, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Last week the Second High Penal Court in the western province of İzmir rejected an appeal to release him in its latest hearing, 18 July, and decided to continue listening to the testimonies of witnesses in the next hearing. Western observers in the court told World Watch Monitor there was not one piece of evidence so far produced to indicate the pastor is guilty of any crime, and that his trial is for political expediency. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants Gülen to be extradited back to Turkey (the cleric is currently living in the US) to stand trial for the 2016 coup.

Brunson was detained nearly two years ago, in October 2016, and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. The pastor has completely denied all the charges, calling them “shameful and disgusting”.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who attended the hearing in Aliağa, near Izmir, welcomed his release from prison but said more needed to be done.

“This is welcome news,” she said. “It is good that Pastor Brunson will have some relief after being held in a Turkish prison for more than 600 days. But it is not enough. The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him. If it fails to do so, the Trump Administration and the Congress should respond strongly and swiftly with targeted sanctions against the authorities responsible.”—

Keep praying!

 

 

Breaking: Pastor Andrew Brunson Moved From Turkish Prison To House Arrest

(Voice of the Persecuted) Due to health condition, the Turkish court has ruled to allow American pastor, Andrew Brunson to be moved from jail to house arrest. The court ordered that Brunson is banned from leaving Turkey as he waits out his trial to continue at his home in Izmir. In custody since 2016, Brunson was arrested for terror and espionage charges, which he strongly denies. Andrew faces up to 35 years in prison for “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member and for espionage. All who know this gentle pastor call the trial a sham and the charges outlandish.

We can imagine the joy his family is feeling at this moment as they wait at the prison for his release. Let us lift up the Lord and give him praise for all He is doing in this case and Andrew’s life. May God heal him and give our brother strength. In Jesus holy name, all glory to God.

Prayer Call scheduled before Andrew Brunson’s next hearing in Turkish court

JOIN THE PRAYER CALL!

(Voice of the Persecuted) Andrew Brunson is an American citizen who lived in Turkey for over 20 years. He led a small church in Izmir and, along with his wife, had raised their three children there. The couple then decided to apply for permanent residency in this nation of people whom they greatly loved. On Oct. 7, they were called to a local police station with no worries beliving they were finally approved for residency. However, the Brunson’s were detained and his wife released shortly after. Andrew’s arrest followed the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. The Turkish government is using evidence based on the testimony of a “secret witness’ against Andrew who maintains his innocence. Now Andrew is facing the third hearing of his trial, next week. Some are calling the case a sham trial to force the U.S. to hand over Fethullah Gülen, believed to be the mastermind of the July 2016 failed coup by President Erdogan’s government. In March of this year, his daughter spoke on behalf of her father in front of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Many are warning of the recent changes taking place in Turkey. It has one of the lowest rankings in the world in terms of freedom of press. The regime continues to abuse the rights of its citizens, including freedom of speech, of association, and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Those not belonging to Sunni Islam are under suspicion and Christians in Turkey, a small minority, have been under increasing pressure and victims of intolerance.

At the last hearing, Andrew repeatedly denied charges that he was involved with terrorism and espionage. Brunson said in his defense,

“I am helping Syrian refugees, they say that I am aiding the PKK. I am setting up a church, they say I got help from Gülen’s network.”

There is not one photograph or tape recording praising the PKK at the (Izmir) Resurrection Church. Our church had several Turkish followers. Our doors were open to everyone. I strived to prevent politics entering the church.”

“My service that I have spent my life on, has now turned upside down. I was never ashamed to be a server of Jesus, but these claims are shameful and disgusting.”

In an effort to be united in prayer before and when Andrew enters the courtroom, Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch is inviting Christians to join together on an 8 hour open prayer conference call that will begin at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 17th and continue to 3 a.m. EST on the 18th.

Andrew’s wife recently shared,

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for persevering in prayer with us. I pass on your comments to Andrew from time to time. YOU, the body of Christ, are truly amazing! Where else do people love and pray for others they’ve never met? What a testimony YOU have been. The summer heat means Andrew can’t sleep well as he is constantly drenched in sweat. He makes a point of offering that up as a sacrifice. He is not wanting to exaggerate the discomfort of heat – he knows that many have been in much worse conditions.
He has been calmer recently as is trying to see things through the lenses of demonstrating the value, the worth of Jesus – that those whom He loves and who love Him are willing to suffer for him. He often prays “Father, cause to burst into flame in me the love you have for Jesus, that I may be a fervent, ardent lover of Him, willing to undergo whatever is asked.”
Please remember the next hearing date – July 18.

When one hears about the persecuted, they may ask, “What can I do, I am only one person?” It’s simple, that person can pray. James reminds us that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful and effective. (James 5:16).

Jesus says that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains. For nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20).

Imagine one person who is righteous and has faith as small as a mustard seed. What can that person accomplish in their prayers? Then imagine hundreds, if not thousands, of intercessors with that same mustard seed faith. What can they accomplish in Christ through their prayers?I

In Hebrews 13:3 we’re asked, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” In this verse, those being described as in prison and being mistreated were Christians experiencing persecution for their faith. The verse also highlights the oneness we should feel as believers in the Body of Christ.

As the next court date draws near, let us not forget the importance of the call in Hebrews 13:3. Brothers and sisters, let us continue to remember, in our prayers, Andrew Brunson and the thousands of brothers and sisters imprisoned for their faith throughout the world.

Please join us on the 8 hour prayer conference call next Tuesday, as we come together praying for the release of our brother, Andrew, and the global persecuted church, believing God will act on their behalf.

“If only you would tear the heavens open and come down, so that mountains would quake at your presence—just as fire kindles brushwood, and fire boils water—to make your name known to your enemies, so that nations will tremble at your presence! When you did awesome works that we did not expect, you who came down, and the mountains quaked at your presence. From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened to, no eye has seen any God except you who acts on behalf of the one who waits for him.”  Isaiah 64:1-4 (CSB) BELIEVE!

Many are sensing a rising level of expectancy that God will intervene in the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson. For those who would like to pray together for Andrew, before next Tuesday’s 8 hour call, we will host nightly 1-1 1/2 hour prayer calls starting at 9 p.m. EST (use the same call number and access code). Please join us, tonight, as we unite with other believers around the world to pray for God Sovereign purposes to be done in the nation of Turkey and in the life of our brother, Andrew Brunson, and all Christians living there. May the name of Jesus be glorified in our brother’s imprisonment. Call information is below.
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Just as a father hears and answers the cries of his child. Let us trust that God will do great things through our prayers, as he has many times in the past and still doing today.
The disciples of Jesus asked two things of him.  Lord teach us to pray and Lord increase our faith.  My goodness. In the things that we ask God for, are not prayer and faith two most important things. In the short video below, we’re reminded of our holy sovereign Father in heaven through this beautiful depiction of the Lord’s Prayer.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

8 HOUR PRAYER CONFERENCE CALL

Location: Any location from your phone

When: Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Length of call: 8 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 8 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)

Time of the Call:

7 p.m. Eastern time

6 p.m. Central time

5 p.m. Mountain time

4 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#
We believe prayer works. Stay on the call 5 minutes, 5 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

Lord willing, I look forward to praying with you on the 8-hour call.

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

pwprayercall@gmail.com

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

PRINT PRAYER CALL FLYERView and download printable PDF flyer here

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier.Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International Conference Call Numbers
(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

(Though not expected, due to circumstances beyond our control, connection may be lost. Simply call again to rejoin the call. Please let us know if you were unsuccessful getting on the call so we can address the issue with technical support.)

America ups the ante over Pastor Brunson’s detention

(World Watch Monitor) The American Charge d’Affaires in Ankara has said that Turkey’s continued detention of pastor Andrew Brunson on spying and terrorism-related charges is impeding US-Turkish relations.

Philip Kosnett said there is a “strong sense of unity in Congress between Republicans and Democrats” on the need for Brunson to be released and “a similar sense of unity between Congress and the administration that in order for the relationship between Turkey and the US to progress, we need to resolve that status not only for Brunson but also for other American citizens and local Turkish employees of US missions who we feel are detained unjustly under the state of emergency”.

According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Kosnett said that resolving those cases would improve “prospects for progress” in other areas of co-operation, such as security in northern Syria. He was speaking to reporters yesterday as it emerged that two senators travelled to Turkey last week to lobby Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the release of Pastor Brunson, whom they visited in prison.

Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen met President Erdoğan in Ankara last Friday (29 June) after visiting Pastor Brunson in prison in the Aliağa district of the western city of Izmir earlier that day, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

Following their previously undisclosed trip, Shaheen told the New Hampshire Union Leader: “Pastor Brunson has been unjustly imprisoned and kept away from his family for well over one year. The opportunity to see him and his wife, Norine, and to appeal directly to President Erdogan, were my main objectives on this trip.

“Any time an American is wrongfully detained anywhere by a foreign government, it is our country’s duty to do everything we can to bring him or her home.”

Shaheen, the senior senator from New Hampshire, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. She has been outspoken in calling for the US to sanction Turkey over the detention of Pastor Brunson, who has been behind bars for more than 20 months. Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis secured an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act that bars Turkey from buying F-35 fighter jets, because of its continued detention of Brunson.

“I am confident that the Turkish President understands this, and I appreciated the opportunity to raise my concerns. The US-Turkey relationship is of strategic importance to both countries,” Shaheen added.

The Turkish presidency did not issue a statement after the meeting.

The senators’ visit took place 10 days before Erdogan’s scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump on the margins of a NATO summit in Brussels, Hurriyet noted.

Brunson’s third hearing is set for 18 July. Prosecutors have accused Brunson, pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, of having ties with supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric Turkey has demanded be extradited by the US in exchange for Brunson, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and are seeking a 35-year sentence. He denies all the charges.

Meanwhile, a leading Turkish commentator wrote that “many” diplomats in Ankara expect his imminent release and deportation. In a column for Hurriyet, Serkan Demirtas suggested that the political fall-out of Brunson’s continued detention in Turkey was proving too costly.

“Brunson, who has been in jail since late 2016, seems to be much too costly for Turkey, and his continued detention would further complicate the situation. That is why many diplomats in Ankara expect his potential release followed by his deportation, pending trial on the July 18 hearing,” he wrote.

“Of course, it is impossible to foresee what the court’s decision will be, but his release would sure help the ongoing reconciliation process between Turkey and the US.”

Turkey Turns On Its Christians

The ultra-nationalist Islamist group Alperen Hearths staged a forced conversion of Santa Claus to Islam, putting a gun to the head of an actor dressed as Santa Claus. This photograph was then posted on Twitter.

(Middle East Forum) While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) depict them as a grave threat to the stability of the nation. With Erdoğan’s jihadist rhetoric often stereotyping Christian Turkish citizens as not real Turks but rather as Western stooges and collaborators, many Turks seem to be tilting toward an “eliminationist anti-Christian mentality,” to use historian Daniel Goldhagen’s term. Small wonder that the recent launch of an official online genealogy service allowing Turks to trace their ancestry has kindled a tidal xenophobic wave on the social media welcoming the fresh possibility to expose “Crypto-Armenians, Greeks, and Jews” mascarading as true Turks. [1]

“The Mosques Are Our Barracks”

Persecution of Turkey’s Christian minority has long predated Erdoğan and the AKP. As it stood on the verge of extinction, the Ottoman Empire engaged in mass deportations and massacres that culminated in the Armenian genocide. The end of World War I saw the expulsion of more than a million Greeks,[2] and the position of the dwindling Christian community only somewhat improved in Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s secularist republic. Yet while Kemalist Turkey paid lip service to the equality of its non-Muslim minorities, the AKP unabashedly excludes these groups from Turkey’s increasingly Islamist national ethos.[3]

An ominous indication of what lay in store for the religious minorities was afforded as early as December 1998 when Erdoğan, then mayor of Istanbul and an opposition politician, announced that the “mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers,” quoting a line from a poem by the nineteenth-century nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp underscoring the Islamist foundation of Turkish identity. And while this recitation landed Erdoğan in prison for inciting religion-based hatred,[4] once at the helm, he steadily realized this vision, systematically undoing Atatürk’s secularist legacy and Islamizing Turkey’s public space through such means as the government-operated Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), which pays the salaries of the country’s 110,000 imams and controls the content of their Friday sermons.

Things came to a head during the July 15, 2016 abortive coup when the regime ordered the imams to go to their mosques and urge the faithful to take to the streets to quash the attempted revolt.[5] Not surprisingly, this Islamist-nationalist reassertion was accompanied by numerous Christophobic manifestations (in Ayyan Hirsi Ali’s words),[6] notably attacks on churches throughout the country.[7] In Malatya, for example, a gang chanting “Allahu Akbar” broke the glass panels of the front door of a Protestant church while, in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, rioters smashed the windows of the Santa Maria Catholic church. Witnesses said the attackers used hammers to break down the door of the church before Muslim neighbors drove them away.[8] As Istanbul pastor Yüce Kabakçı lamented:

The reality is that Turkey is neither a democracy nor a secular republic. There is no division between government affairs and religious affairs. There’s no doubt that the government uses the mosques to get its message across to its grassroots supporters. There is an atmosphere in Turkey right now that anyone who isn’t Sunni is a threat to the stability of the nation. Even the educated classes here don’t associate personally with Jews or Christians. It’s more than suspicion. It’s a case of let’s get rid of anyone who isn’t Sunni.[9]

Anti-Christmas Campaigns… [Full Story]

Please pray for Christians in Turkey and for our brother, Andrew Brunson, an American imprisoned for his faith and awaiting the next session of his trial on July 18th.

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