In this sermon, Pastor Neil recounts a number of things he witnessed at the EPC General Assembly which he attended, including presentations by Andrew Brunson. Here is a small sampling of what he told us:
Andrew spoke to the Assembly on Wednesday morning about his ordeal in prison and the profound challenge it presented to his own faith in God. Then both Andrew and Norine spoke about their experiences in a Q & A session. Andrew also preached at the Worship service on Thursday evening, weaving in his own testimony as he spoke about the persecution of followers of Jesus that he believes lies ahead for us. He said it is going to become increasingly difficult in coming years to stand up for Jesus and His truth here in America. I think he is right. He is concerned that we – and the next generation of believers – may not be prepared for what is to come. It is likely, he said, that we will be increasingly marginalized for our faith, discriminated against, and despised by those who reject our biblically-grounded beliefs.
The court proceedings against Andrew in Turkey – there were at least three of them during his two-year imprisonment – were described by observers as a “kangaroo court,” which prompted one observer, an EPC elder, to say: “That is an insult to kangaroos everywhere!” Kangaroo court or not, Andrew knew his life was in jeopardy. He didn’t know if he would ever get out of prison to hug his wife and kids again. He didn’t know…
During his first year in prison, Andrew said, he was thoroughly broken. He lost 50 pounds and contemplated suicide. He felt completely abandoned by God. The crisis, he said, was not being in prison. The crisis was being in prison and feeling abandoned by God. What changed things for him, he said, was when he made the decision to fight for his relationship with God, even if he could not feel God’s presence. He made the conscious decision that, regardless of what God did or did not do, he would still follow God. There was very little he could hold onto, he said, except the promise from Romans 8 that “nothing can separate you from God’s love.” So he determined to pursue God with devotion, faithfulness, and love.
I could tell you much more about what Andrew Brunson said. Let me urge you to go online to the website indicated on the Announcement page in your bulletin: https://epc.org/ga/ga2019recordings/. There you can find videos of Andrew’s presentation to the Assembly on Wednesday morning, the Q & A time with Andrew and Norine, Andrew’sThursday evening sermon, and several other videos from the General Assembly. I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to listen to him in his own voice.