In October of 2016, American Presbyterian pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife were snatched up by Turkish authorities on charges of inciting rebellion against the state. They had been faithfully serving as leaders of a small congregation of about 24 for 20 years. In this time, they were active in sharing the Gospel and helping refugees, including the Kurds, who were viewed as a threat by the Turkish government.
Andrew’s wife was released after 13 days, however, Pastor Brunson remained in prison, either in solitary confinement or in overcrowded cells. The days, weeks, and months dragged on, and in his own words, he was a broken man. The penalty for the charges he was faced with would land him in solitary confinement for three lifetimes, plus a few dozen years. In other words, his life was over. Because he wanted to serve the LORD and tell the less fortunate about the hope we have in Jesus.
Prayers were offered up all over our nation for his release, and he was freed only a couple years after he was imprisoned. He now shares wisdom he learned as an American imprisoned for sharing his faith. We are going through an 8 week series he put together last year to help us learn how to stand in the midst of persecution- which is steadily becoming a reality here in the US. We are beginning to see consequences for being outspoken in the faith, and what we believe. Tech company censorship, lawsuits, religious freedom under fire… the godly principles this nation was founded on have eroded, leaving little to prevent Christians from paying the price for our beliefs.
So what would you say if you had to choose between your faith and your life? Famous Columbine shooting a couple decades ago, Cassie Bernall chose her faith and certain death in the face of the shooter. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of courage? To be a hero of the Christian faith? To get one of those special robes for martyrs we see in Revelation? How can we have that kind of faith?
I invite you to join with us this weekend as we look at a textbook example of the kind of faith that overcomes the fire. We will be looking at the testimony and witness of Daniel’s three friends in Daniel chapter 3. Our socially distanced service is Saturday afternoon at 3:30, and our Sunday morning service is at 10:15, where you can join us online if you can’t make it in person. We also have excellent Sunday School classes at 9 for all ages.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to pursuing Christ, Community, and the Great Commission Together with you soon!
-Pastor Nathan Rice