One day after being released from house arrest in Turkey, American pastor Andrew Brunson was in the Oval Office, where he prayed over President Donald Trump.
After spending nearly two years in jail and then some time under house arrest, Brunson was freed on Friday by a Turkish court despite the fact that the court found the pastor guilty on terrorism charges. Within hours he was spirited away, taken by military aircraft to Germany where he was examined at a U.S. military hospital then flown to the U.S.
On Saturday, the just-released evangelical pastor and his family were hosted at the White House by President Trump. "From a Turkish prison to the White House in 24 hours – that's not bad," the president stated.
Brunson thanked the president for helping secure his release. "We pray for you often as a family, my wife and I pray for you. You really fought for us, unusually so," the 50-year-old pastor told Trump. "From the time you took office, we know that you've been engaged."
The president deflected the praise to many other elected and administration officials in attendance, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and several U.S. senators and representatives. After thanking them as well for their efforts, Pastor Brunson prayed over the president, requesting that he be blessed with "supernatural wisdom."
"I ask that you pour out Your Holy Spirit on President Trump, that You give him supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans You have for this country," he prayed. "I ask that You give him wisdom in how to lead this country into righteousness. I ask that You give him perseverance and endurance and courage to stand for truth." (See C-SPAN report; prayer begins at 7:30 into the video)
Andrew Brunson arriving at home on Friday after his release (AP photo)
Trump a 'course correction'
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, tells OneNewsNow that he's pleased – and relieved – with the news of Brunson's release.
"It's been long overdue but we're grateful for it nonetheless," Curry shares. "Very thankful that the president was able to see the value in making human rights a priority – and really, by putting strong sanctions on Turkey around the religious freedom of Pastor Brunson I think [Trump] expedited his release."
Curry continues: "I applaud President Trump for the unrelenting pressure his administration applied to Turkey on this matter, in part through tariffs and sanctions. The president has rightly recognized that economic leverage can help bring positive change for human rights and can convey a powerful message of solidarity with oppressed religious minorities, especially persecuted Christians. In this case, it worked and was helpful in the release of an American Christian."
David Brody, CBN's White House correspondent, writes in an op-ed for USA Today that Brunson's release from Turkey is the latest example of President Trump's commitment to upholding traditional Judeo-Christian principles:
"Picking his Supreme Court justices is the generational cornerstone of a much larger change. In the evangelical world, whether it's moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, actively upholding religious liberty, eagerly encouraging pro-life policies, or standing strong for the Judeo-Christian values that made America the best country in the world, Trump is seen as an instrument in a much needed American course correction."
Evidently that's not just Brody's opinion. He says he hears it "all the time" in his reporting, interviews, and comments. "The majority of evangelicals think God has raised up Trump to be president at this time in America's history," he writes.