WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – When the Senate reconvened on Tuesday afternoon, it was North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson who led the opening prayer.
It’s a moment Brunson wouldn’t have thought possible just one year ago.
“It’s a great honor,” Brunson said.
This time last year, Brunson was being released from a Turkish prison.
Brunson and his family lived in that country for 23 years while working as a pastor at a small Protestant church.
But in 2016, he was detained after being accused of helping a coup attempt against Turkish President Erdogan.
“They stole two years of my life. But God has done so much with it that was good.”
Brunson denied the charges of terrorism and spying but remained in custody.
While many back in the US called for his release, including President Trump and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.
Tillis sent a letter to Turkey’s President Erdogan signed by 71 fellow senators all calling for Brunson’s release.
“Just broad bipartisan support from the moment that we started telling Pastor Brunson’s story there was no one who didn’t want to sign on and help,” Tillis (R-NC) said.
Brunson thanked Tillis and members of the senate for their help in his release at the opening of his prayer.
“I’m standing here today because so many of you fought for me and I am deeply grateful. In a time of many divides you were unified in fighting for my release. Thank you.”
Pastor Brunson wrote a book about his experience in Turkey.
He also plans to continue doing ministry work.