Tennessee pastor arrested, now stranded in India

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SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Talks with Pastor Bryan Nerren are rare these days for the family.

The leader of the International House of Prayer Ministries in Shelbyville is stranded in India. His attorneys say it’s religious persecution.

It started on October 5th. Bryan and two other pastors were traveling for mission work.

Bryan was in possession of money for the trip and was approached at an Indian airport by customs.

“Really not a problem, and then the customs agent asks him are you a Christian, and are any of these funds gonna be used for Christian purposes,” said attorney CeCe Heil, with American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). “And that’s when it seemed to go downhill.”

The pastor was allowed to fly to Bagdogra but was not given a form clearing the money.

“Soon as he got on the plane to Bagdogra, they call ahead to let them know this man is traveling without the proper documentation with the funds,” said CeCe. “So he was set up.”

He would be swiftly arrested in the Bagdogra airport. Bryan would be held in jail for six days, unable to contact his own family.

“There was nobody really allowed in there,” explained his wife, Rhonda Nerren. “So we didn’t know if he was dead, or alive, or sick.”

Rhonda would turn to the ACLJ, who focuses on international religious freedom cases.

Attorney CeCe Heil tells News 2 that since his release, Bryan’s been in limbo.

“The judge retained his passport, and had a travel ban placed on him,” she said. “So he’s basically being held captive in Siliguri, India.”

CeCe and Rhonda will be Washington DC bound Wednesday morning.

CeCe tells News 2 they’re going to be meeting with lawmakers, including Senator Lamar Alexander, and Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Rhonda is now calling on the community, leaning on her faith, and local lawmakers, to get her husband home.

“We also know God is the ultimate giver of life,” his lawyer said. “And he will bring him home, and I know he will in time, we just don’t know how long.”

To sign a petition for Bryan’s release, click here.

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