A Pastor is Freed and a Journalist Murdered

Rev. Andrew Brunson, who had worked for two decades in Turkey as an evangelical pastor, was arrested in 2016, charged and convicted of being a spy and of aiding terrorists by the Turkish government. After spending two years in prison, initially in solitary confinement, he was released as a result of pressure from the Trump administration and negotiations between the U. S. and Turkey. His cause had garnered the attention of evangelicals in the U. S. and advocates of religious freedom, who saw his arrest as an attempt to squelch his efforts to introduce the people of Turkey, an Islamic country, to Christ.

Rev. Brunson and his wife met with President Trump in the Oval Office the day after his release. Brunson knelt and prayed for Trump during the meeting. Brunson said he kept his sanity through prayer, and believes that the prayers for Turkey his story has inspired will prove a blessing to the country.

But in the same week Rev. Brunson was released, suspicion swirled around the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain papers necessary for his intended marriage. He never exited the consulate and has not been seen since. An investigation by the Turkish government leads to suspicion that Khashoggi was murdered during an interrogation by a team of Saudi men acting under the authority of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, because of accusations that Khashoggi had ties to Qatar, a chief rival of Saudi Arabia.

The Crown Prince has denied any involvement in the murder. The drama places pressure on Saudi Arabia over human rights violations, and on the Trump administration’s record on support for human rights, because Saudi Arabia and the United States have secured a pricey arms deal that may now be in jeopardy. Trump is hesitant to criticize Saudi Arabia too quickly over fears that the arms deal may be squashed, but Republicans like Marco Rubio and even Trump’s VP Mike Pence are saying that there is no price too high to pay for our international credibility on human rights.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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