Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who spent 735 days in a Turkish prison before being released last fall, admitted in his new book that he seriously contemplated suicide during his incarceration.
Brunson made the admission in his just-released book, “God’s Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance.” He said he struggled with suicidal ideation the day after Christmas in 2016, according to The Christian Post.
At one point during that particularly low point, Brunson revealed he even tested out a clothesline in the prison courtyard to see if it could bear his weight, should he have attempted to hang himself.
Suicide didn’t enter his mind as a possibility, Brunson explained, until concerns about falling away from his faith entered his mind. Ending his life was a better alternative, he said, to losing his trust in God.
“It gave me a sense of comfort to know that I could escape this nightmare,” he wrote. “And knowing this lifted my despair just enough to help me hold on.”
Brunson and his wife, Norine, spent 23 years as missionaries in Turkey before they were arrested in October 2019. Norine was released 13 days after their capture. Her husband was not.
The decision to write his book, Brunson told Fox News, was born out of his promise to God while he was incarcerated to be transparent and authentic, if he was given the chance to tell his story.
“My story is one of brokenness,” he said on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning. “Many of the stories of biographies I read, they have very strong characters. I was actually very weak in prison and broken, and then God rebuilt me. … I said in prison, ‘God, if you ever let me out of here, if I have a chance to speak, I will be open and honest about my brokenness.”
His hope is that his story will be helpful to others who feel “weak.”
Brunson explained the title of the book — “God’s Hostage” — by saying he was, of course, a prisoner of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but that his life was ultimately in God’s hands.
“When God had accomplished what he wanted to through my imprisonment, which I think was raise up millions of people to bless Turkey in prayer, then I was released,” he said. “So, I see God as the grandmaster chess player. … Behind all of the political intrigue, God was really in charge.”
October 12 was the one-year anniversary of Brunson’s release from Turkey. Tony Perkins, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, praised the pastor on Saturday, commending his “remarkable resolve and steadfastness in the face of persecution.”
“We celebrate his release and return home,” Perkins continued. “However, we also remember his terrible suffering at the hands of Turkish authorities who targeted him for the practice of his faith.”
For his part, Brunson was also honored at the Values Voters Summit, where he prayed for President Donald Trump. He prayed the commander-in-chief will be filled with “supernatural discernment to know who is trustworthy and who is not. He also prayed Trump will be imbued with “hunger for you so that he may love you with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and delight in knowing you.”