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Free at Last: Andrew Brunson Released by Turkey After Two Years

American pastor was imprisoned on false charges of terrorism.

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been released after being detained for two years in Turkey.

At a hearing this morning, a Turkish court freed him from judicial control, which lifts his house arrest and travel ban.

Despite a guilty verdict sentencing him to 3 years, 1 month, and 15 days in prison, Brunson may return home to the United States as soon as today due to good behavior and time already served.

NBC News broke the news yesterday of the expected deal between Turkey and the United States over Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who had worked in Izmir for decades and was arrested on terrorism and espionage charges in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

US officials and religious freedom advocates considered the charges against Brunson to be erroneous, and multiple witnesses retracted their testimonies against him during today’s hearing.

Trump administration officials were optimistic but cautious that Turkey would follow through on the deal, reported The Washington Post. The deal would likely lift recent US sanctions in exchange for Brunson’s release by being sentenced today to time already served.

Officials expect Brunson to “be handed back his passport and put on a plane to the US,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

World Watch Monitor was with Brunson and his family and lawyers in Turkey at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. eastern time in the US). He was expected to leave for the airport at about 9 p.m. local time/2 p.m. Eastern.

Facing up to 35 years in prison if convicted, Brunson flatly denied all charges. He had declared in court, “I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them. I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus’ name.”

After being held in a number of different ...

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Eugene Peterson Enters Hospice Care

Beloved pastor and author nears completion of his long obedience in the same direction.

“Every moment in this man’s presence is sacred.”

So concluded the son of Eugene Peterson in a weekend announcement that the 85-year-old retired pastor and bestselling author of The Message and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is receiving hospice care.

Robert Creech, a professor of Christian ministries at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary, shared the announcement from Eric Peterson on Facebook.

“Eugene Peterson has encouraged, formed, and often literally saved the ministry of more than one pastor over the years through his writing and thinking (I would include myself in that list),” wrote Creech in a Saturday post now shared more than 1,000 times. “He has refreshed Scripture for many through his thoughtful paraphrase of the Bible published as The Message.

“He has taught us to pray,” Creech continued. “It is time for those who have benefited from his ministry to return the favor to him and his family with prayer over the next several weeks.”

This past Tuesday, Peterson was hospitalized after “a sudden and dramatic turn in his health caused by an infection,” wrote his son on Friday to friends and family (with the encouragement that they share the news). “He is now being treated for pneumonia and is responding well to the IV antibiotics. He is eating again, and went for a very short walk this afternoon. He is much improved as of today.”

Eric Peterson continued:

Elizabeth and I joined Jan and Leif in his room this afternoon for a meeting with his health care team of three doctors. They confirmed for us that the two main medical issues he is facing—heart failure and dementia—are advanced and progressing. Based on their recommendation, ...

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Renewing Your Church: Recalibrating Your Vision to Create Sustainability

I narrowed the process of church recalibration down to four phases.

I remember the first Sunday of January 2004 like it was yesterday. I had just been elected Lead Pastor of New Life Church, the church where I was saved and had served as youth pastor. It was my first official Sunday, and our Superintendent was going to “commission” me as Lead Pastor.

It snowed the entire night before (In Seattle, snow shuts down everything.) The Superintendent called, saying he couldn’t get there. So, I was up to preach—my first time as Lead Pastor. Even better, only 30% of the normal Sunday crowd arrived! Nevertheless, I stood at the pulpit and started preaching, not realizing the winding, complex road that lay ahead.

New Life was a good church, but it had plateaued. The church was in a dangerous place, what I now describe as “deceptively healthy.” It had signs of health, but if not revitalized, it would slowly die. I knew it needed new vision and leadership, however I had no understanding of the courage this would take––or the pain it would cause.

I soon realized that the changes needed were more than a new preacher or some quick cosmetic modifications. New Life was a choir-driven church, with a strong Sunday school and midweek program. I recognized that necessary changes would be deep and cultural: music style, discipleship approaches, transition to an intentional church model, and a change of core priorities.

The first three years were really hard. I quickly learned, “It would be easier to change the Bible than the music style.” Many at New Life saw change as a threat; they watered down the gospel and lessened the church's impact.

I remember the day when the top giver left the church. Over lunch, he said, “I am leaving. I don’t agree ...

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The Difference A Metaphor Makes: Men & Women Working Together

Unearthing and critiquing the guiding metaphor about women is one of the most important leadership tasks in our era.

Each workplace has a guiding metaphor about women, and while most never bring it out into the open for honest dialogue and critique, it communicates loudly throughout an organization’s culture, policies, processes, and how people relate with one another.

As I reflect on research I conducted with talented women from approximately 30 nations who are serving and leading in God’s mission, I believe unearthing and critiquing the guiding metaphor about women in our ministries and workplaces is one of the most important leadership tasks in our era.

Females make up more than half of the people in our congregations and more than half of the global mission work force. To do their best work, they need a guiding metaphor that is affirming of their gender and humanity.

Women as Temptresses Who Cause Men to Stumble

Sometimes, it feels like the prevailing metaphor in many evangelical ministries and workplaces is “women are temptresses.” Ever since Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit, it can feel like women are blamed for many of men's shortcomings and character defects,especially in the area of sexuality.

In all my years of ministry, I have yet to meet one woman leading in God's mission who had the intent of snaring a man and leading him down a destructive sexual path.

Nevertheless, because of this guiding metaphor, women leaders are often separated from men and frequently shut out of opportunities that impede their development. I believe in exercising wisdom when it comes to sexual temptation, just as I adhere to wisdom when establishing processes in other areas such as integrity regarding how money is handled.

There are basic principles that are simply wise to implement in a wide array of situations because ...

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