Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine
Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine

Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who was released earlier this month from a Turkish prison, where he was being held on terrorism charges, told VOA's Turkish service his faith kept him going during his almost two-year imprisonment. 

He had lived in Turkey since the 1990s, running an evangelical church.

Brunson belongs to the same church as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

His release had become a focal point of concern for U.S. President Donald Trump's evangelical voting base. 

The case also marked an unprecedented crisis in Turkish-U.S. relations.Trump, partially in retaliation for Brunson's ongoing prosecution, slapped Turkey with trade tariffs in August.The action made the Turkish currency collapse. 

Brunson was facing 35 years in jail if he had been convicted on terrorism and espionage charges, allegations Washington had called baseless. 

He has always denied any wrongdoing and was caught up in the aftermath of Turkey's 2016 failed coup Ankara blamed on exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the U.S. and whose extradition has been demanded. 

The Turkish court did find Brunson guilty, but sentenced him to only three years and one month in jail.The pastor had already served two years in pre-trial detention, so he was freed for time served. 

Speaking to VOA's Turkish service on Thursday, Brunson said he and his wife Norine "kneeled down on the courtroom floor and we just prayed together that, thank God, that this nightmare, two-year-long nightmare, was finally coming to an end." 

Within 24 hours, he was kneeling next to Trump in the Oval Office and prayed for Trump to be given "supernatural wisdom." 

Brunson said he had a "lot of fear" when he was in prison because it took "18 months for me to actually find out what I was being accused of." 

The pastor, seemingly however, does not hold any grudges against Turkey and its leader. 

Pastor Brunson says he "would love to meet" with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "and I would say to him that God loves him and wants to use him to bless the Turkish people. Leaders need prayers and, as Christians, we are told to pray for our leaders."