Andrew Brunson, the American missionary to Turkey who was imprisoned and held under false charges for two years, will give the commencement address to Beeson Divinity School graduates on April 30. He will speak on how to prepare to stand in difficult times.
Brunson, who was living in Turkey with his wife and children and serving as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, was arrested on Oct. 7, 2016 on charges of treason and espionage. His wife, Norine, was also arrested, but was released two weeks later. Brunson and his family had lived in Turkey since 1993 and were involved in church planting and providing aid to refugees. He was eventually released in 2018 after significant pressure from the United States government.
A graduate of Wheaton College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Brunson was born to missionary parents serving in Mexico and felt a call to missions at the age of four. Brunson’s wife, Norine, also grew up as a child to missionaries. She and Brunson met while students at Wheaton and attended Trinity Evangelical together. They were first sent as missionaries to Turkey by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church but later changed their affiliation to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
While he was a student at Wheaton in the mid-1980s, Brunson came under the mentorship of Lyle Dorsett, who at that time was a professor of Christian formation and ministry, and together with their spouses, became friends. In 2005, Dorsett, who is now retired, moved to Beeson Divinity School to serve as the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism. In 2016, Dorsett’s wife, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer and started a CaringBridge journal. After the arrest of Brunson, she used her CaringBridge site as an opportunity to share updates and prayer requests for Brunson and Norine.
While imprisoned, Brunson wrote the following statement, which Mary shared on Jan. 23, 2018:
Each day I pray the following: "Father God pour out on me, your son, the courage, strength, endurance, perseverance and steadfastness of Jesus, that I may run the race set before me and finish well, a bride resplendent, purified in the fires of faithful obedience, and worthy of Jesus, my Beloved and King of Glory." I pray this over my family as well. I suppose it applies to all of us, especially in times of trial and testing. I feel like I am living in Isaiah 50:10—hanging on in the dark. Thank you for standing with me—and for me—in prayer, and sharing in my imprisonment.
Brunson has a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and, together with Norine, started a nonprofit called WaveStarters. They have three adult children.
Beeson Divinity’s Commencement and Service of Consecration will take place at 11 a.m. on April 30. Due to COVID-19 protocols, only graduates and their guests are allowed to campus for commencement.