Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also forgiveness

Religion News Service | 10/20/2018 | Staff
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The American pastor recently released after two years of confinement in Turkey said Friday that he suffered a breakdown during his time in prison and was put on anti-anxiety medication.

Andrew Brunson said he was deprived of books — even a Bible — for long stretches of time. For eight months, he spent 24 hours a day with more than 20 men in a cell designed for eight.

Uncertainty - Pastor - Congregation - Possibility - Life

But the worst of it, he said, was the uncertainty. The pastor who had led a small congregation faced the possibility of life in a Turkish prison if convicted on charges of terrorism and related counts, accusations he still calls “ridiculous.”

“I didn’t do very well,” Brunson said of living in the crowded prison cell. “It was very high stress, and I was sleeping three to four hours maximum a day. And I was really struggling a great deal. I didn’t know how long this would continue. I didn’t know why I was in prison.”

Medication - Anxiety - Basket - Case

He added: “I really had a breakdown emotionally. And I received medication for anxiety because I was just a basket case.”

Sitting next to his wife, Norine, Brunson spoke inside the Virginia Beach headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network after an interview on “The 700 Club,” among other CBN shows. The network closely followed his ordeal, which became a cause celebre for evangelical Christians as well as President Donald Trump.

Month - Brunson - Turkey - Years - Prison

Earlier this month, Brunson was convicted in Turkey and sentenced to more than three years in prison. But he was freed and allowed to leave for the two years he had already spent in custody. For the past few months, he had been on house arrest.

Brunson was accused of links to Kurdish militants and a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Upon his...
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