American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was a missionary to Turkey for two decades, gave out a warning that there will be increasing hostility toward followers of Christ in the U.S. in the near future.
Speaking at the Global Prayer for U.S. Election Integrity, Brunson said the "pressures" against those who adhere to Jesus' teachings and shamelessly stand up for Him will intensify, CBN News reported.
He said he had been feeling "an urgency" since he returned to the U.S. more than two years ago.
"I believe the pressures that we're seeing in our country now are going to increase, and one of these pressures is going to be hostility toward people who embrace Jesus Christ and His teaching, who are not ashamed to stand for Him," Brunson said.
"My concern is that we're not ready for this pressure. And not being prepared is very, very dangerous on a number of levels," he added.
Brunson lived in Turkey for 23 years, where he was the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church. In 2016, he was arrested and imprisoned on false charges of participating in a coup attempt against Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
After spending two difficult years in Turkish prison, Brunson was eventually released on October 2018. His release came with intervention from the Trump administration.
He believes the hardship he experienced in prison helped him learn perseverance so that he could also help others to persevere.
On a separate interview with CBN News, Brunson reminded viewers of what Jesus said, that because the world hated Him, it would hate His followers, too.
With many leaders in society openly defying Christ and showing hostility to those who follow Him, the "signs" of increased persecution are already here, Brunson said.
"There's a tidal wave on the horizon and it's coming toward us very quickly. It's not some far off threat," he explained.
Christian persecution in the U.S. will most likely be done through silencing, shaming, marginalizing, banning of financial transactions, cancellation of website hosting, and removing of tax-exempt status for churches, he said.
"Those who persecute will justify their persecution by saying that we are hate groups, that what we have is a hate message of intolerance," he added.
He also said that preparing for persecution is not exactly being done in churches today, which could have negative consequences.
He emphasized the importance of being ready "ahead of time" so that when persecution comes and fear starts to kick in, "we do not run, but stand firm."
So how does a believer prepare for such times? Brunson said the pursuit of God is key.
He shared how he often asked God to draw him close to His heart so He could trust him "with the authority to start waves." He persistently ran after the heart of God. He believes this helped him withstand the tough times in his life, including his time in prison.
"The way we prepare to stand in difficult times is by cultivating love for God," he explained. "Intimacy fuels perseverance. We are willing to suffer for those we love."