Pastor Andrew Brunson revealed in an interview how his faith and a specific passage in the Bible got him through his two-year imprisonment in Turkey.
Pastor Brunson is an American Pastor from North Carolina who worked as a pastor and lived in Turley for 23 years before he was detained in 2016 with his wife.
Brunson’s wife, Norine, revealed in an interview with CBS This Morning that she was released after 13 days in prison, but her husband would be held for two years.
The North Carolina Pastor was officially charged with espionage and being a part of a terrorist group and earlier this month he was released on time served. Brunson adamantly denies these claims, but still following his arrest and release, he had to leave Turkey to come back to America.
The Pastor sat down with the hosts of CBS This Morning to talk about his experience and time in prison.
Brunson noted that for a while he was in solitary confinement saying, “There was very little contact with the outside.”
He continued, “I could see Norine, for example, 35 minutes a week through window glass talking by phone. She actually is very strong and had to take me through this emotionally and spiritually. She was the only one I could receive truth from. So, when she would come in, she would encourage me and that is what would keep me going through the next week.”
Brunson was eventually moved to an overcrowded prison where he shared a cell for eight people with 20.
Brunson told the hosts that it took some time before he was allowed to have any books, let alone a Bible. But, when he was finally given a Bible, he said 2 Timothy got him through the hard parts of his prison stay.
“I read 2 Timothy where Paul talks about suffering and finishing the race well,” Brunson said. “This became my prayer. I want to be faithful and endure and finish well.”
Though the experience was trying for the couple and their three kids, Brunson said, he knew God would use this experience for good. “I believe that God was involved in this for us, because I think of millions of people who prayed for Turkey during that time.”
Pastor Mathai Varghese, still in clothes he wore when attacked, at church celebration service after his release from jail in Rajasthan, India. (Morning Star News)
NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – When Pastor Mathai Varghese was beaten and abducted by Hindu extremists in Rajasthan state, India, police gave chase and arrested the kidnappers – as well as the pastor.
His car ruined and his body bloodied, he spent a night and the next day in jail with serious injuries unattended before being released on bail. That was just part of the price the 57-year-old pastor of Ebenezer Indian Pentecostal Church, in Suratgarh, paid for attending a house-warming party in a village where a mob of 100 Hindu extremists were waiting for him.
“I was not at fault, still I was beaten, arrested and charged,” Pastor Varghese told Morning Star News.
He and fellow Christian Kashmir Singh had gone to the village of Silvani to attend the house-warming of Rukma Devi Nayak, a widow who says she is more than 100 years old. Nayak has attended the pastor’s church for three years.
Pastor Varghese, his wife and three church members went to Nayak’s house in the pastor’s car on the morning of Sept. 4. While he and more than a dozen other Christians there had begun worshipping with songs followed by Scripture reading, they heard a knock at the door.
As soon as they opened the door, three men barged inside, ordered a woman who was praying to stop and demanded their pastor be handed over to them, he said. While the women in the worship objected, saying police should be called to settle any misunderstanding, the men threatened to beat all of them if the pastor were not handed over, Pastor Varghese said.
“Realizing that an agitated mob was waiting outside the house to attack them, the women were frightened and handed me to them,” Pastor Varghese said.
They dragged him and Singh outside, where about 100 Hindu extremists were waiting with wooden sticks and began to beat them, accusing them of converting people in their village. The pastor’s persistent explanation of the reason for their visit went unheeded, as his wife pleaded with the assailants to spare him.
“The extremists were aware of our visit, and they had pre-planned the attack,” Pastor Varghese said.
Someone from the village called the police, and the mob leader signaled the drivers of two, nine-seater Mahindra Bolero SUVs. Upon the arrival of the vehicles, the assailants pushed Pastor Varghese into one of them and boarded the vehicle from both sides, pressing against him.
“The mob tried to push Kashmir Singh into the second vehicle, but then they left him, saying that they have the ‘leader’ and that they can deal with Singh anytime later, as he is a local resident,” Pastor Varghese told Morning Star News.
With about seven men in his vehicle and another one full of attackers following, Pastor Varghese was taken away as they continued beating him. One of them hit him with his Kada, a cast-iron bracelet, breaking his nose bone. Blood began to flow from his nose.
“I pleaded with them to stop hitting me,” he said. “I questioned them, ‘Do you intend to kill me? I am already severely injured with blood oozing out of my nose.’”
Police who reached the village were re-directed to the road towards Suratgarh. They managed to stop the 16 kidnappers half a kilometer outside of Suratgarh and arrested them, along with Pastor Varghese.
“My whole body was hurting,” he said. “My nose was bleeding. The police asked me to wash my face and gave me a paper and asked me to write my complaint. I requested first aid many times, but the police took me to the trauma center only at 3:30 in the afternoon, only to discover that there was no doctor there.
He had a fractured nose bone, visible blood clots under both eyes, torn thumb ligaments and internal injuries causing severe body ache. An attendant at the clinic gave him a pain-killer injection, and he was brought back to the police station at about 5 p.m.
The pastor spent the next day (Sept. 5) in jail, until some pastors came and obtained bail for him through the influence of the village head at about 5 p.m. The assailants obtained bail the same day.
At a hospital, a CT scan and other tests confirmed the nose fracture and internal injuries.
He later learned that the mob had damaged his car and overturned it to set it on fire when one of the attackers warned that setting it ablaze would invite a police investigation. He was able to retrieve his vehicle from the police station only after many days.
“It will cost me at least 1 to 1.5 lakhs [$1,360 to $2,041] to get it repaired,” he said.
Police registered a case against the 16 kidnappers – and against the pastor, under an Indian Penal Code (IPC) section “to prevent the commission of cognizable offenses.”
Pastor Varghese said that the assailants were not charged for abducting him and for assaulting him and Singh, who sustained several internal injuries on his hands, back, legs and had swelling on his chest.
Local newspapers described the attack as a tussle between Hindus and Christians arising from the Hindus trying to stop Pastor Varghese from forcefully trying to convert Nayak.
One newspaper quoted Assistant Sub-Inspector Hanuman Prasad Mina as saying that he tried to stop the two groups as they were hitting each other, and when they refused to obey, he had to arrest them.
Varghese roundly denied the reports, saying influential political operators forced police to make the false claims.
Head Constable Rajendra Kumar of Suratgarh Sadar Police Station told Morning Star News that charges will not be filed against the Hindu extremists or the pastor based on an agreement they were compelled to sign.
“Both the parties were made to sign a bond which stated that they would not indulge in any kind of fight and live in peace for six months, or else they would be arrested and charged,” he said.
Asked why the 16 Hindu extremists had not been charged with kidnapping, Kumar said police would not book them unless the pastor filed a written complaint against them. Pastor Varghese said he will not file a written complaint as he has forgiven them.
At the same time, police have ordered him not to evangelize or go on visitations for six months, the pastor’s wife said.
“He can conduct Sunday service and must stay within his campus,” she said. “If caught evangelizing, he would be put behind bars.”
Pastor Varghese has been ministering in Suratgarh since 1992, having left his home in Kerala state to minister in northern India in 1979. The Ebenezer Indian Pentecostal Church was established in 2010 and has a congregation of about 50-60 members.
India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom, notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is sadly ironic that Christians are persecuted in India, a country with a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion.
Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.
The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.
Church building set on fire in assault that escalated, residents say.
Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai. (Wikipedia
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslims attacked a market in Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria, on Thursday (Oct. 18), killing dozens of Christians and burning a church building, sources said.
Area residents said a Muslim at the market in Kasuwan Magani, 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of the city of Kaduna, began yelling “Thief!” in the late afternoon in a move calculated to cause pandemonium ahead of an attack on Christians and their homes and businesses.
“A Muslim raised a false alarm about a thief in the market, which caused stampede, and then other Muslims started chanting ‘Allahu Akbar [the jihadist slogan, God is Greater],’ attacking Christians, burning houses and shops belonging to Christians in the town,” area resident Kefas Mallam told Morning Star News.
The Rev. James Moore of the town’s Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), told Morning Star News that the assailants burned down one church building belonging to the Cherubim and Seraphim movement.
“There was an alert of a thief in the market,” he said. “When people heard ‘Thief! Thief!’ they were confused and started running. Unknown to the people, it was a strategy by the Muslim youth to attack the people. They went into killings, looting and burning.”
Moore, who is the area district secretary of the ECWA, said it was difficult to give a definitive casualty figure as the town was in complete lockdown following imposition of a 24-hour curfew the night of the attack. Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai visited the site in the Kajuru Local Government Area on Friday (Oct. 19) and said 55 people had been killed.
“According to what the police have briefed me so far, 55 corpses have been recovered; some burned beyond recognition,” he said.
Local press reported the violence began as an attack by young men attacking the market that escalated into a clash between “two youth groups of different religion.”
Gov. El-Rufai told reporters that the state government had imposed a curfew in the area and security agencies were restoring calm.
“It cannot continue, we are going to deal decisively with anyone involved in this,” he said. “This country belongs to all of us; this state belongs to all of us. No one is going to chase anyone away. So, you must learn to live with everyone in peace and justice.”
He added that the violence was “totally unacceptable,” and that anyone connected with or even observing the violence would be detained.
“I have charged the security agencies and the authorities here, local and traditional, to ensure that everyone connected with this, whether as a participant, instigator, or even watching while it is going on, is apprehended and prosecuted,” he said.
Area Muslims also attacked Christians on Feb. 26. Luke Waziri, a Christian community leader in Kasuwan Magani, told Morning Star News by phone that during the February attack, 12 Christians were killed.
“And 67 other Christians arrested after that incident are currently facing trial in a court in the city of Kaduna,” he added, lamenting that they were detained without cause by police under the direct control of a Muslim inspector general of police and a Muslim police commissioner.
“The sad thing is that the police are aware that Muslims in Kasuwan Magani have accumulated weapons with the intent to continually attack us, but they are unable to arrest these Muslims,” Waziri said.
Waziri, who is the national secretary of the Adara Development Association (ADA), a predominantly Christian ethnic group in Kaduna state, expressed sadness that while Christians had yet to overcome the trauma of the February attack, Muslims launched an assault on them again on Thursday (Oct. 18).
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
The media would have Americans believe that thousands of Hondurans spontaneously got together for a 2,000-mile march to the United States, where they expect jobs, social services, education and more.
But the reports leave unexplained how the “invasion,” as talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh described it, is being funded.
Certainly there are hot-button political issues involved, including the Democrats’ aim to make President Trump look bad if he separates illegal alien families who cross into the U.S.
Democrats, meanwhile, accuse the president of using the invasion to divert attention from their talking points on health care.
The origin of the caravan, however, likely won’t become clear until it’s revealed who is coordinating the campaign.
“They’re trying to make this look organic, but it can’t be! It can’t be organic! Something like this has to be planned,” Limbaugh said. “And so I’m asking myself, who’s behind the planning? I’ve asked the question, well, they have to eat. Well, they have to use the bathroom. Well, there’s some kids there without their parents,” he said Monday.
He said “rich Democrat donors” anxious to embarrass the president could be behind it.
“It could be that they want to demonstrate the cold-heartedness and the mean-spiritedness of Donald Trump by having him do what he said he would do, not let them in. Basically shut down the border. If the Democrats are thinking that, man, oh, man, do they not get it,” he said.
Limbaugh said that for Democrats to get a political boost from the caravan, something bad would have to happen to someone in it.
Then, he said, the media and the Democrats could blame Trump.
Otherwise, he said, the caravan is “a microcosm” of what got Trump elected.
He said Democrats may also be hoping Trump will do nothing about it.
“They might be rolling the dice that Trump isn’t gonna do anything because they think they’ve rattled Trump with their stories earlier this year about how he separated families at the border and how Trump didn’t like that narrative and didn’t want it to last so he did what he could to change it.”
No matter the politics, there is someone behind the scenes “making this happen,” he said.
“We’ve got how many? Two-thousand miles? Stop and think of this. From Honduras to the southern border of United States, Arizona, is around 2,000 miles. Seven thousand people one day just decided to start walking to the United States 2,000 miles.”
He said another possibility is that the drug cartels are involved.
“But there has to be political involvement here, too, because money has to be available. There has to be money being spent on this. So you’ve got 7,000 people who all of a sudden decide, all of a sudden, ’cause nobody saw this coming. And there was no advance word of it. Seven thousand people decide to start walking 2,000 miles.”
He described the necessary accommodations for such an entourage.
“We don’t see pictures of where they’re using the bathroom. We don’t see pictures of them gathering or getting food and eating it. I mean, look, in random video you might see some people chewing things, but we don’t see how this is being handled. We don’t see the Porta-Potties. We don’t see. … And are they just urinating in rivers and streams, and what would the environmentalist wackos think about that if that’s happening?” he wondered.
“Every time you see a caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Remember the midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”
He said police south of the border apparently are unable to stop the movement and warned “Middle Easterners” may be in the mix, noting ISIS members have been caught in the region in recent years.
Well-known megachurch pastor James MacDonald recently posed as a homeless man stationed outside several campuses of Harvest Bible Chapel before Sunday morning services to see just how his congregation would react to his presence.
MacDonald, who founded and leads the megachurch in the Chicagoland area, posted a video of the experiment to his Facebook page Monday. He told his congregation he was blown away by the treatment he received as he crouched next to the door of the church campuses, donning a gray, mangy beard as he leaned against a TJ Maxx shopping cart overstuffed with his life’s belongings.
“The closer a person is to us and the less common the struggle, the easier it is to love,” the pastor explained in the video. “[H]ow common is homelessness? How frequently is the homeless person someone dear to us personally? Never.”
Moments later, the undercover MacDonald is seen walking into the church sanctuary, pushing his shopping cart in front of him. When he reaches the pulpit, MacDonald removes the fake, raggedy beard and oversized coat, revealing his true identity.
“Do you know that your father in Heaven is giving the same graces to the person that is hardest for you to love? He is giving it. He doesn’t play favorites. He is giving the grace to everyone,” he said. “If we are going to love like our father in Heaven loves, we don’t get to play favorites. By favorites, I mean, so often we love the people when there is some benefit in it for us.”
The crux of MacDonald’s message — and the intention behind his brief social experiment — was to show his congregation that it’s “hardest to love when the problem is most common and the people are least known.”
Many of the interactions he had with his fellow believers, though, left him “crying inside that beard.” MacDonald then showed a highlight reel, revealing a number of congregants praying with him, bringing him food, handing him cash and inviting him inside the sanctuary.
“I dressed up as a homeless man and sat outside our church,” he said. “What I witnessed blew me away.”
A special thanks goes out to the First Church Pearland and Pastor Ken Gurley for supplying a tent to the Highland Park Church. Volunteers from Chipley, Crawfordville, Perry, Sopchoppy and Tallahassee solved the puzzle of erecting the tent. We now have it up and operational in Highland Park for that congregation to hold service in on Sunday.
The Westville church with the Open Pond congregation furnished volunteers to the Office Depot location on 23rd Street, in Panama City. Reach Out America, Feed the Children and Office Depot supplied food and necessities for hundreds of people and our wonderful apostolic people passed them out.
Thanks also to the Men’s Director of Alabama; Brother J.B. Sims, and those that came with him for bringing a backhoe and a skid-steer to the Panama City church for operation “clean up.” A lot of the debris was removed and they now can hold services in their pavilion.
We shall also commend with special thanks, the National Guard who set up their operations in the parking lot of the Panama City church. They indeed, have been an incredible blessing to that congregation. Our prayers are for those deployed in this time of need.
Special thanks to our fellow pastors and their men and ladies for the relief ministered to our brothers and sisters in Christ this week.
Despite several attempts to breach the security fence, fires sparked by arson terrorism, IDF official says the weekend was “the quietest” since Hamas’ riot campaign began • Palestinians: Over 100 protesters wounded in riots • Egypt continues with truce efforts.
Hamas appears to have scaled back the violent riots on Gaza’s border with Israel, as seen in Friday’s demonstration – a weekly demonstration that had been getting increasingly more violent in recent weeks – which was relatively low-key, defense officials said over the weekend.
The military said that 10,000 Palestinians rioted near the border, torching tires and hurling stones, grenades and explosives at the troops across the fence.
Three attempts to breach the security fence were foiled, the IDF said.
Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that over 100 Palestinians were wounded by IDF fire during Friday’s riots.
An Israeli Air Force aircraft bombed a Palestinian arson terrorism cell on Saturday. The Palestinians reported that one man was killed in the strike.
In a separate incident, several explosive devices discovered near the border fence on Saturday were neutralized safely by military sappers.
In a third incident, the Israeli Navy stopped a Palestinian fishing boat carrying what the IDF described as “suspicious items neutralized by sappers.” Two fishermen were arrested.
Palestinian terrorists also launched dozens of incendiary kites and balloons across the border over the weekend, sparking nine fires in Israeli frontier communities.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot met over the weekend with GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi and senior commanders in the Gaza Division and held several situation assessments.
”This was the quietest weekend along the border since the riots began [on March 30]. There were points along the security fence where Hamas operatives were seen instructing protesters to keep away from the fence,” one IDF official noted.
Still, “In other places, where violence raged, security forces took the proper action. This is not something the IDF is willing to tolerate and the demand from Hamas is that all the rioting stops entirely,” he said.
On Sunday, after the relatively calm weekend, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the reopening of Israel’s border crossing with Gaza – the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing and Erez pedestrian crossing – which were shuttered in the wake of Wednesday’s rocket fire.
Egyptian security officials held separate meetings in recent days with Israeli counterparts and with the heads of Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza, in an effort to prevent an escalation of violence.
Arab media reported that Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who canceled his visit to Gaza after Wednesday’s incident, is expected to visit the coastal enclave and Israel on Thursday to cement a truce deal.
Kamel is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he hopes to convince to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Gaza.
Still, Egyptian and Palestinian sources were quoted by Arab media as saying that Hamas has not promised Cairo that it will halt all border riots or its arson terrorism campaign, but rather said it would ensure protesters will remain 500 meters (1,600 feet) away from the fence.
”This aims to allow Egypt to reach agreements with Israel that would allow dozens of economic plans to go through and improve life in Gaza,” one Palestinian official said.
Some Arab media reports said that, despite Egypt’s objections, Abbas plans to impose additional sanctions on Gaza as part of effort to wrest control of the coastal enclave back from Hamas. In 2007, Hamas routed Abbas’ Fatah faction from Gaza in a particularly violent coup.
Qatar is said to be gearing up to circumvent these sanctions and funnel the money with which Hamas would be able to pay wages to its workers in Gaza. Doha has gone over Abbas’ head on the matter earlier this month as well, sending energy-starved Gaza some much-needed fueldespite Abbas’ attempts to stop it.
Jordan will terminate revoke the appendices to its peace agreement with Israel relating to the leasing of Naharayim, or Baqoura, in Jordan, which is adjacent to the Israeli border, where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River. The area includes the Island of Peace, over which Israelis were awarded private ownership and other rights under the 1994 peace treaty. Another area where the king wants to delete the appendix is Ghumar, an assortment of agricultural fields in Moshav Tzofar in the Arava desert.
Both areas were transferred temporarily to Israel for a period of 25 years, which is due to end on October 25, at which point the king must decide whether or not to renew the leases – although the actual term “lease” is not mentioned in the peace agreement appendices.
On Friday, a mass demonstration of tens of thousands took place in Amman, under the slogan: “The people want national honor.” The demonstrators demanded that the Jordanian government return the territories in question to Jordanian sovereignty. They also called for canceling the peace treaty with Israel altogether, expel the Israeli ambassador and close down the Israeli embassy.
Naturally, the thousands of demonstrators were drinking fresh water drawn from lake Kinneret and other Israeli water sources—as part of the same 1994 peace treaty. Many of them probably cashed their checks earned by working for one of the numerous Israeli owned manufacturing plants in and around Amman.
عبدالله بن الحسين
لطالما كانت الباقورة والغمر على رأس أولوياتنا، وقرارنا هو إنهاء ملحقي الباقورة والغمر من اتفاقية السلام انطلاقا من حرصنا على اتخاذ كل ما يلزم من أجل الأردن والأردنيين
The decision to request the revocation was stated in a Sunday tweet by His Majesty King Abdullah. The translation of said tweet says: “The inundation and immersion have always been our top priority, and our decision is to end the attachés and immersion of the peace agreement based on our keenness to take all that is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians. “Baqoura and Ghumar were at the top of our priorities,” the King tweeted on. “Our decision is to terminate the Baquoura and Ghamar annexes from the (1994 Jordan-Israel) peace treaty out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians.”
Jews have held ownership rights in Naharayim since 1926, when a Jewish engineer from Russia, Pinchas Rutenberg, purchased a concession to build an electric plant there. The plant was overtaken by invading Jordanian Legion forces in 1948.
In Moshav Tzofar, the land was purchased legally from Jordan in 1994, and should the king insist on taking it back, the least he must do is pay its full value. Except that in a recent TV interview, former Jotdanian PM Abdul Salam Majali said he was hoping the Israelis would give the land back to Jordan free of charge.
Hurricane Michael has done extensive damage to a number of our churches, pastors homes, and members homes. The churches that we know have severe damage at this point are the following:
Blountstown (Pastor Ron Baker)
Panama City (Pastor Allen Crabtree)
Highland Park (Pastor Rodney Capps)
Port St. Joe (Pastor Chris Richardson)
Chattahoochee (Pastor George Black)
Hosford (Pastor Aaron Elkins)
Marianna (Pastor Allen Biggs)
If you would like to send an offering to help with this disaster, please send it to the Florida District UPCI and put Hurricane Relief in the memo. All funds will be used to help with the restoration of these churches.
Our Disaster Relief Director, Pastor Larry W. Sims is coordinating all efforts to help these churches and pastors. If you wish to send supplies or men to help with labor, we ask that you coordinate all this through Brother Sims. The entire area is severely damaged and we need to make sure our efforts are profitable and a blessing for all those in need.
Please consider sending an offering to help restore our churches.