Pastor Brunson was released from two years of detainment in Turkey. On ‘Hannity,’ Brunson says he began to see value in his suffering while in Turkey.
Evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from Turkish imprisonment on Friday, spoke to Sean Hannity on Tuesday night about his detention and his meeting with President Trump.
Brunson, who was at the center of a Turkish-U.S. diplomatic dispute that even had sparked outcry from American evangelical groups, was released to house arrest after almost two years in jail. The pastor, who was accused of terror-related charges, was convicted Friday yet released from custody for time served.
Hannity asked Brunson about his detention, “held in a cell designed for eight, and there were 21 people.”
“It was a very difficult time. I was surprised because I had never considered prison as a possibility and the costs for that,” the pastor replied. “I was isolated by culture and by language but especially by religion. It was very difficult to be the only Christian among them.”
Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, had lived in Turkey with his family for more than two decades and led a small congregation in the Izmir Resurrection Church. He was accused of committing crimes on behalf of Kurdish militants and to aid a Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of engineering the failed coup. He faced up to 35 years in jail if convicted of all the charges against him.
He was detained in October 2016, formally arrested that December and placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons.
Through visits from his wife, Norine, he said he received the encouragement he needed to endure, and he was sure God had a plan to end his suffering for him.
Brunson returned to the U.S. aboard a military jet shortly before meeting the president. Trump welcomed Brunson to the White House on Saturday to celebrate the pastor’s release.
When Brunson asked Trump if he could pray for him, the president replied, “Well, I need it probably more than anyone else in this room, so that would be very nice, thank you.”
Brunson was overcome being able to give devotions to Trump.
He said, “It’s a great privilege, I think many pastors would love to do it. Our president needs prayer.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.