The book, God’s Hostage, by Andrew Brunson, is the story of a twenty-three-year-old missionary to Turkey who, in 2016, found himself arrested and imprisoned in the country where he was serving. He and his wife, Norine, had been serving the Lord through church planting, training believers, aiding refugees, and leading a house of prayer. And while Norine, was released not long after they were arrested, Andrew was held captive.
Upon release, Norine returned to the couple’s home in Izmir, Turkey—working tirelessly for Andrew’s release. He had been falsely accused of terrorism in October 2018 and would be held for two years in Turkish prisons.
During the 735 days he was imprisoned, Andrew was not able to speak with his four children—then attending school in the US. He was also unable to touch or hold his wife when she visited him in prison.
Andrew’s plight gained worldwide attention, to the point that many people—including the president of the United States—were working to have him released. Now, Andrew has chosen to share his story through a book, one that I highly recommend.
Amid Hopelessness, God Remains
As I read the book, I sensed that Andrew, through his imprisonment, was getting to really know the God he had served for so long. Daily, he was confronted by the seemingly hopeless situation and towards the end of it he wrote, “In all my hurt and disappointment (as attempts to gain his release were thwarted), I had not stopped talking to God. I had accused him of deceiving me, but I had asked forgiveness.”
Four times, he found himself in a Turkish courtroom. As the final trial was in process, he likened Turkish President Erdogan to Pharaoh. Andrew came to believe that Erdogan’s heart could be hardened by God, just as he had hardened the heart of Pharaoh towards the release of the Israelites.
God Is Always in Charge
It was then that Andrew began to see how God was the one who had been in charge all along. He wrote,
“Many sleepless nights I lay in bed and prayed, ‘I desperately want to return to my children but if you are not finished with what You want to accomplish by my imprisonment or by my being sent back to prison, then give me the strength, courage and endurance to be faithful to the end. I am afraid. Oh God, let me go, but if not, help me to be faithful.’”
Andrew saw that, while he was Erdogan’s hostage, God was sovereign. He would only be imprisoned by President Erdogan until God accomplished what he intended to through the imprisonment.
Andrew went on to write, “Less than two months after my release in October 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the Turkish authorities targeted and arrested me on the basis of my faith and nationality. They confirmed that I was the victim of religious persecution.”
Christ Is Worthy
Through his experience in Turkey, Andrew has encouraged thousands of people across the world. In addition to the book he’s written about his experience, he seeks to encourage prisoners and share of God’s faithfulness through his story. While Andrew now lives in freedom, he still recalls the days when he penned the following song about God’s faithfulness in the Buca Prison:
Worthy of my all
You are 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