Imprisoned American Missionary in Turkey Pens Incredible Song Behind Bars

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Andrew Brunson, an American missionary to Turkey for the last 23 years, is now on trial for a second time after being falsely imprisoned more than a year ago. He has been called “the Forgotten American in Turkey.”

On Oct. 7, 2016, Brunson hoped to receive permanent citizenship into Turkey. As a Christian pastor who had already been in the country for two decades, deeply committed to loving Turkey and its people, he believed this moment would give him the opportunity to continue leading God’s people faithfully at Izmir Resurrection Church.

Instead of receiving permanent citizenship, he and his wife were held in a local police station with no charges; his wife would be released two weeks later while he remained in custody. He was held for 63 days without even a Bible, and eventually falsely accused and charged with membership in an armed terrorist organization.

A friend of mine has stayed in contact with his wife and shared more of the details of Brunson’s story with me.

For the most part of his prison time, he has been in an overcrowded cell, being mocked by fellow prisoners who persistently ridicule him for his love for Jesus. The room is intended for eight people — and it houses 22.

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Brunson has had very dark days in prison, but he penned a song that he sings to keep his eyes on Jesus, including these two verses:

You are worthy, worthy of my all

This is my declaration in the darkest hour

Jesus, the Faithful One who loves me, always good and true

You made me yours, you are worthy of my all

I want to be found worthy to stand before you on that day

With no regrets from cowardice, things left undone

To hear you say, “Well done, my faithful friend, now enter your reward”

Jesus, my joy, you are the prize I’m running for

May the Doors Be Opened

In the midst of being persecuted, he has had to continually rely on the truths he knows from Scripture while being physically and spiritually broken. As a result, he has lost 50 pounds and has suffered great emotional and psychological distress. He has even been denied medication for anxiety and depression while in deplorable conditions. Through it all, Brunson has remained a faithful witness to Christ while still loving Turkey and its people.

While media outlets have covered the story of Brunson’s false imprisonment, Christians around the world have prayed that God would supernaturally intervene on his behalf and change the hearts of the Turkish government. We have read Acts 16:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25–26

Just as God miraculously intervened to deliver Paul and Silas, he is more than able to change the hearts of the Turkish government and deliver Andrew Brunson.

Pray for President Erdogan

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In Acts 16, God changed the hearts of the magistrates in releasing Paul and Silas from prison. Since Brunson’s imprisonment, President Recep Erdogan has publicly stated that his fate is directly tied to the United States extraditing Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania who Erdogan believes was directly involved with the failed military coup in July 2016. He is keeping Brunson in prison as a bargaining chip for Gulen. Both Brunson and Gulen have denied any involvement with the coup.

Pray that God would miraculously change Erdogan’s heart. Pray that God would help him see that what he is doing is evil and will ultimately be held against him by the nations of the world — and eventually by God himself. Pray that God would demonstrate his power to Erdogan by visiting him and transforming his heart by his grace. Pray that he might say, “Let Andrew Brunson go” (Acts 16:35).

Pray for Andrew Brunson

Brunson’s most important request of prayer is that he would stay true to Christ and his Gospel, especially when he lacks a sense of God’s presence in the darkness. At his first trial on April 16, he felt supernatural strength as he expressed his love for Turkey while being questioned by the prosecutor. Despite being denied all of his medication for several days before the trial, he was able to testify for 12 hours, clearly refuting all charges against him.

In Mark 13, Jesus tells some of his disciples that at the close of the age, those who follow him will be “[delivered] over to councils” and “beaten in synagogues” (Mark 13:9). He says that when they are persecuted for the sake of his name, the Holy Spirit will speak through them (Mark 13:11). Pray that Andrew Brunson might experience the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that the Gospel would advance through his imprisonment (Philippians 1:12–13).

Along with praying for him, consider signing the ACLJ petition for his release. Outside of prayer, this is the best action plan to support Brunson.

Pray for His Second Trial

Brunson’s second trial is underway. Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them as orphans. He promised them his peace in the midst of trials and persecution (John 14:1827). Pray that Brunson might rest in this peace during the hours leading up to his trial. Pray also for each person involved in his second trial — the three judges, the prosecutor and his attorney.

Sing Brunson’s Song

While Andrew Brunson has been imprisoned, he has written this song. Consider singing this song to Christ with Brunson, who continues to sing it during the darkest days of his life.

You are worthy, worthy of my all

My tears and pain I lift up as an offering

Teach me to share in the fellowship of your suffering

Lamb of God, you are worthy of my all

You are worthy, worthy of my all

My tears and pain I lift up as an offering

Teach me to share in the fellowship of your suffering

Lamb of God, you are worthy of my all

You are worthy, worthy of my all

Adopted as a son, a brother to my King

Indeed I will share in your glory if I share your suffering

Jesus, you are worthy of my all

You are worthy, worthy of my all

But my heart faints, drowned in sorrow, overwhelmed

Make me like you, cross-bearer, persevering, faithful to the end

To stand the trial and receive the crown of life

You are worthy, worthy of my all

This is my declaration in the darkest hour

Jesus, the Faithful One who loves me, always good and true

You made me yours, you are worthy of my all

I want to be found worthy to stand before you on that day

With no regrets from cowardice, things left undone

To hear you say, “Well done, my faithful friend, now enter your reward”

Jesus, my joy, you are the prize I’m running for

You are worthy, worthy of my all

You are worthy, worthy of my all

What can I give to the Son of God, who gave himself for me

Here I am, you are worthy of my all

 is the lead pastor of Risen Life Church in Melbourne, Florida. He and his wife Laura have been married for seven years and have one daughter, Mirra Grace.

A version of this article previously appeared on desiringGod.org.

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Desiring God produces God-centered resources from the ministry of John Piper. Its mission is to produce and distribute resources that spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.




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