Candidate Donald Trump said he wanted to "Make America Great Again." Twenty-one months into his first term, it's obvious that President Trump wants to make every nation great. And while some members of the U.N. General Assembly may find that funny, I assure you that people in the darkest corners of the world do not.
"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished almost more than any other administration in the history of our country," the president said to unexpected laughter in the room. He paused for a minute and then went on. "I didn't expect that reaction," he told them, "but that's okay... We are standing up for America and the American people, and we are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere." For the millions of Christians trapped in hopeless situations around the globe, the Trump administration has been the answer to their desperate prayers. Trapped in torture factories in Iran or tied up with ropes and beaten in India, believers don't have to worry about being forgotten anymore. After eight years of Barack Obama, they finally have an American leader who cares.
That's good news for Pastor Andrew Brunson, who's two weeks away from another trial in Turkey that could decide his fate. No one has been a bigger advocate of his release than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told reporters in New York yesterday that the drumbeat for his freedom goes on. "He could be released this month," he explained. "He should have been released last month. And he should be released today, in fact. We have talked to the Turks. They know the expectations."
Pastor Brunson's daughter, Jacqueline Furnari, can only hope the nation holding her father captive is finally listening. At this weekend's Values Voter Summit, she talked about what a strain the ordeal has been on her dad -- and the entire family.
"It's a sham trial and my dad is being used as a bargaining chip and suffering for Jesus Christ... Throughout this entire time, my dad has been unable to be with his family," she said. "It's what has hurt him the most, is having that time stolen from him -- watching his children grow up, helping my brothers make their decisions as they go on in life. It's been a painful time and we're just ready for it all to be over."
Through it all, though, she couldn't be more inspired by his courage. "It is an incredible testimony and I cannot be more grateful for his example," she said to overwhelming applause. "And at this point, all that we can do is just continue praying. I ask that all of you pray for my dad's release and pray for others who are persecuted for their faith."
Minutes before, Pompeo had waited through deafening applause when he said the greatest highlight of his job so far was "bringing home three Americans from captivity in North Korea." "On the day Pastor Brunson returns, just like the men I spoke of..." he promised, "they also will be able to say that the Lord has done great things for us, and again, our hearts will be filled with joy."
But it isn't just what the administration is saying that's giving people hope. It's what they're doing. When you see men and women like President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Sam Brownback, and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley taking these stories so seriously, it gives Christians everywhere the boldness to speak up. That's why pastors in China are taking such an unprecedented stand against the communist party. They know that when it comes to religious liberty, America has their back. Even ChinaAid's Bob Fu is astounded at the number of Chinese pastors -- 344 -- who've signed a public statement defying the government's order on faith. In all of his years fighting the Chinese regime, he's never seen anything like it. It seems the tougher the crackdown gets, the more resolved Christians are to risk everything. "For the sake of the gospel," they vow, "we are prepared to bear all losses -- even the loss of our freedom and our lives."
This is just another example of how the administration's support for religious liberty gives hope and help to believers around the globe. It's also another reminder of what's at stake this November -- not just for America, but the world.