Family and friends of Andrew Brunson have requested prayer as he remains detained at an immigration centre in Turkey awaiting deportation and has been issued with an entry ban into the country.
Police in Izmir detained Andrew, the American pastor of Izmir Dirilis Church, and his wife Norine on 7th October and informed them that they would be deported within 15 days, and that they would not be allowed to re-enter the country since they were “a national security risk”.
Andrew and Norine were taken to the holding facilities of the Izmir Immigration Centre and were refused access to a US consular official or lawyer. Friends from church tried to provide them with clean clothes and other provisions, but Andrew and Norine were not permitted to have these items until 13th October. Immigration officials refused to allow Andrew and Norine to have Bibles, but allowed them to have warm clothes and medicine.
On 19th October Norine was taken to hospital for a health check and released, after she was told that the charges against her had been dropped. She says that she and Andrew were kept in the same cell and not allowed to have contact with other detainees. They were particularly discouraged when they learned that they were not permitted to receive the Bibles that had been brought for them.
Andrew remains alone in detention and it is not clear if the deportation will go ahead, or if there will be a last-minute reprieve as the 15-day period allotted for his deportation draws to a close. Yesterday (20th October) he was moved to a different building and was allowed to see Norine for 20 minutes.
It is believed that the arrest and detention of Andrew and Norine is part of a wider government campaign in Turkey to use the state of emergency declared after the failed coup attempt of 15th July to remove “undesirables” from government posts and other spheres of influence. Although there was little initial impact on Christians, the Association of Protestant Churches (TeK) now reports that Turkey’s Christian communities are increasingly being affected. In particular, a number of expatriate Christians are facing residency issues, deportation or entry bans.
MAY BE CIRCULATED TO GENERAL MAILING LISTS AND OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS, AND QUOTED FROM FREELY IN REPORTS CITING “MIDDLE EAST CONCERN” AS THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION.
Friends and family of Andrew and Norine thank the many people engaged in helping them and supporting them in prayer, and ask for prayer that:
a. Andrew will be released from the holding centre soon, and that he will be able to rejoin Norine
b. God will give the Brunsons guidance as to the next steps, and that they will know His peace and comfort at this difficult time
c. Andrew will know supernatural peace, grace and strength, and be able to sleep well
d. the reasons behind the deportation order and the entry ban will be made known
e. the threats of deportations and entry bans against expatriate Christians in Turkey will cease, and that Turkish officials will respect the rights of Christians – both locals and expatriates – and have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and choose to follow Jesus