American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for his faith in Turkey for two years, predicted that persecution of Christians in the United States will intensify due to “hostility toward people who embrace Jesus Christ and His teaching.”
“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,” Brunson said during a virtual event, called “Global Prayer for U.S. Election Integrity.”
“On my return to the U.S. just over two years ago, for the first time in my life … most of my life I’ve been focused overseas … I really, I have an urgency for this country, for the United States, and not just with this election,” continued Brunson, a Christian missionary who lived in Turkey for more than 20 years. “It’s not precipitated by this election, but it has been growing in me these last two years.”
He said his concern is that “we’re not ready for this pressure,” and warned that “not being prepared is very, very dangerous on a number of levels.”
“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 warned. “And 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. What is heavy on my heart is that we need to prepare ourselves to prepare our own hearts.”
Pastor Brunson, who was taken into custody by Turkish officials along with his wife, Norine, in October 2016, said he thinks “one of the purposes God had for me in my imprisonment was that I learned perseverance at a deeper level again and again and again, as I was repeatedly broken and finally He rebuilt me.”
He added that helping prepare others to persevere was also one of the purposes.
The Facebook event was part of a series of special live prayer events for election integrity and against election fraud, the organizers said.
In Turkey, Norine was released soon after, but Brunson was thrown in prison, accused of plotting to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Following two years in detention, Brunson was released last October after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the country.
Brunson shared details about his imprisonment in Turkey, revealing he experienced a crisis of faith while in detention. “I was actually very afraid,” he admitted. “The issue, actually, is what we do when we’re afraid. There are things to be afraid of.”
The pastor also warned in March that being a Christian in the U.S. might soon come with great personal risk with the culture becoming increasingly “hostile” to believers.
“There is a price to following Jesus. There is a price in other countries. We hear about that. But increasingly, I think that there will be a price to be paid here,” he told hundreds gathered at the National Religious Broadcasters Christian Media Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time.
“It is normal to be afraid. The issue is, will you stand in spite of your fear? Will you remain faithful? In the end, people are going to pay a price for the sake of the Gospel. Overseas, yes, but also here ... there is a cost to following Jesus.”