American pastor jailed for two years in Turkey fears for new generation of Christians

Andrew Brunson, the American pastor whose two-year imprisonment sparked a major diplomatic crisis between the United States and Turkey last year, told pastors gathered at the Southern Baptist Convention this week of his fears that the new generation of Christians will face intense persecution, Fox News reported.

"I don't think that we're prepared for what is coming. Especially the next generation, I fear that many of us are complacent and we're unaware and this means that the people in our churches are going to be blindsided by what comes”, Fox quoted Brunson as saying.

The pastor was speaking at a panel entitled "Blessed are those who are Persecuted for Righteousness", during which he described some of his experiences in prison in Turkey.

Brunson said he had been suicidal at times during his two-year detention, which he said had “tested (his) love for God”.

He was arrested and charged with espionage and aiding a terrorist organisation in 2016, after factions in the Turkish military attempted to overthrow Turkey’s government. The pastor, who had spent more than 20 years running a church in Turkey until his arrest, denies the charges. International observers have also condemned them as baseless.

Brunson warned his audience that the treatment he faced and worse will be faced by Christians in coming years.

"Many of you are going to have the opportunity to stand in that line of suffering and you have to prepare yourself for that", he said.

Brunson was released last October, after being sentenced to over three years in jail. The judge sent him home citing time served, though the decision was widely interpreted as motivated by pressure from Washington, which had imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over Brunson’s imprisonment.