Evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson was detained for two years in Turkey on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

Brunson, an American citizen, had lived in Turkey for more than 23 years before his 2016 arrest. After intense international pressure and high-level engagement by the United States, Brunson was allowed to return to the U.S.

He is one of the survivors of religious persecution featured during the State Department’s 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

“Throughout history it has been very rare to have genuine religious freedom,” Brunson said.

Vice President Pence called the pastor’s story “an inspiration to people across our country and believers around the world.”