Like Brunson, who served with his wife Norine in Turkey for 23 years, those who’ve been expelled in recent months have decades of experience in Turkey. They lived in many different parts of the country, and some managed prospering businesses. A number of them own property. Most are pastors or lay leaders who work as volunteers within the Protestant community.
The ones who spoke to WORLD are not named due to their ongoing cases and because some have family members remaining in Turkey. All say they had not encountered problems with Turkish authorities before. And, despite requests to Turkey’s Ministry of Interior and to consular officials in the United States and other countries, they’ve received no formal notification for their forced departures.
The leaders of four Protestant congregations in Izmir—where Brunson served as pastor of Resurrection Church—have been forced out of Turkey since Brunson’s case ended.
“We had not the best family vacation,” Bill told me. After departing Turkey, he contacted a lawyer to request reinstatement of his residence permit, a case that’s pending. Bill’s wife, whose visa remained valid, flew back to Turkey, packed their belongings, and closed their home. She settled finances, said goodbye to friends, and rejoined Bill in the United States. A ruling in his case could be years away, he learned. Meanwhile, he told me, “Our 34 years in Turkey have come to an abrupt end.”
The expulsions affect not only Americans. At least three of those expelled are Germans, and others include citizens from Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, South Korea, Finland, and Iran, according to interviews and a report from World Watch Monitor.
German Hans-Jürgen Louven, 58, moved to Turkey 21 years ago and settled with his wife and infant daughter in the resort town of Mugla on the Aegean Sea. In August without warning he learned a routine application to renew his residency visa had been denied. Officials ordered him to leave Turkey within 10 days.
For decades Louven has worked as a tour agent, hosting international groups and restoring historic homes for guests. He worked with local officials to develop “culture and faith” tourism trips, promoting Biblical sites like Ephesus, Laodicea, and Hierapolis (current-day Pamukkale). All along, he told World Watch Monitor, he asked for permission and obeyed local laws and customs. His office displays framed commendations from Turkish officials, including for his “valuable contributions” to the community.
Besides owning his home, Louven runs a farm in Mugla. There he even has prepared his own gravesite because he expected to die and be buried in Turkey. “We are living here as Christians,” Louven said in a YouTube video about his deportation, “and I suppose it’s for our witness of living for the Lord.”