India Refuses to Let Tennessee Pastor Leave the Country Three Months After Arrest

Pastor Bryan Nerren

A Tennessee pastor is still being barred from leaving India three months after his arrest even though a customs case against him for allegedly not paying duty on the money he brought into the country has been resolved, according to a lawyer representing the family. 

Cece Heil, senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice, told The Christian Post that pastor Bryan Nerren was scheduled to have a hearing before a court in Siliguri on Thursday morning as his case has gone back and forth between customs and the court system.

There was some hope, even though small, she said, that Nerren — the founder of a nonprofit that serves in Nepal called the Asian Children’s Education Fellowship — could be given back his passport and allowed to leave the country since he paid a fine related to what advocates say is an unfair charge of evading duty payment.

However, Thursday’s scheduled hearing in Siliguri was postponed, Heil said.

Nerren, the pastor of International House of Prayer Ministries in Shelbyville, was arrested on grounds that he brought $40,000 with him upon his entrance into India in early October 2019.

The money was to be used to pay for his two-week trip to India and Nepal to visit with pastors and to cover the costs of two conferences.

Nerren was arrested when he stepped off a domestic flight from New Delhi to Bagdogra, India.

Heil said that Nerren, who was traveling with two other pastors, was questioned about the money by security agents before boarding his flight in New Delhi. The pastor told the authorities that the money was to cover the conferences and his trip.

Heil said authorities asked Nerren during the interrogation whether he is a Christian and whether the funds will be used for “Christian purposes.” He was never given any forms to declare the money when in the visa line, the lawyer said.

Although he was initially cleared to fly, Heil said authorities in New Delhi phoned ahead to Bagdogra. Nerren was arrested once he deboarded the plane in Bagdogra.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith