Jacqueline Furnari, the daughter of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson, has called on lawmakers to help secure the release of her father so that he could attend her wedding and walk her down the aisle.
Brunson, who had served as the Izmir Resurrection church for over 23 years, is currently being held in a Turkish prison over allegations of espionage and membership in an armed terrorist organization.
Last week, Furnari spoke at the U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing held in Congress to testify that her father was wrongfully imprisoned and needs to be reunited with his family.
"My husband and I decided to have a civil ceremony and to postpone our wedding until my father is home. I'm still waiting for my wedding. I'm still waiting to wear that wedding dress that I got almost a year and a half ago," Furnari said, according to CBN News.
"I'm still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I'm still waiting for that father-daughter dance," she went on to say.
In addition to the allegations of espionage and terror links, Brunson was also accused of attempting to destroy constitutional order and overthrowing the Turkish parliament.
"Pastor Brunson maintains his innocence and denies all the accusations," testified CeCe Heil, executive counsel for American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an organization fighting for the pastor's release.
Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appealed to the Turkish government for Brunson's release, but their requests were ignored.
In an article published on ACLJ's website, Heil expressed hope that Congress will "do everything in its power to ensure Pastor Andrew's immediate release from Turkey and safe return to his family here in the U.S."
The pastor was visited by representatives of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last month, almost a year to the day when he was detained.
According to USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga, Brunson had lost over 50 pounds due to the sustained stress that he endured during his incarceration.
The pastor was initially confined to a cell meant to accommodate only eight men but was crowded with 21 prisoners. He has since been transferred to Kiriklar Prison, where he is confined 24-hours a day to a cell with two other men.
In September, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan suggested that the pastor could be released if the U.S. government hands over Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is currently living in Pennsylvania.
Turkey has been seeking the extradition of Gülen, who is accused of instigating a failed military coup in July 2016.
The U.S. State Department, however, stated that there are no plans to extradite Gülen in exchange for the American pastor.
"I can't imagine that we would go down that road," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert when asked about Erdogan's suggestion.
- Danish school sparks controversy for canceling traditional Christmas service
- Hong Kong Catholic Church aims to recruit more married men to serve as deacons
- Amnesty International Ireland refuses to return illegal donation for pro-abortion campaign
- Pakistani Christian accused of lynching Muslims found dead in Lahore jail
Apart from attacks from Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Christians in Nigeria are also facing increasing threats and attacks from occult groups that are targeting churches at night.
Many Americans who consider themselves evangelicals do not actually hold evangelical beliefs, survey finds
About a quarter of Americans consider themselves to be evangelical Christians, but a survey has found that a significant proportion does not actually hold evangelical beliefs.
A Christian teacher in the U.K. is suing a school after he was suspended for referring to a transgender pupil, who self-identifies as male, as a girl.
A prominent secularist group has called for an IRS investigation into an Alabama church after it displayed a sign that endorsed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
A leading secularist group has raised concerns about cross memorials that were created by high school students in Georgia as part of a city effort to honor local military veterans.
The supporters of the Islamic State terror group are reportedly trying to frame Christians for the attack on Al Rawdah mosque in Egypt last month in an attempt to incite revenge attacks against them over the holiday season.
Members of the British parliament are asking the government to consider refusing entry to U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham, who is accused of making inflammatory comments against Islam and the LGBT community.
A new documentary from the History Channel has claimed that Jesus Christ may not have been born in a stable of an inn but a residential house owned by Joseph's relative in Bethlehem.
A young boy who was staying at the Smyllum Park orphanage in the 1960s was beaten "black and blue" after catching two nuns in an embrace at a boiler room, a child abuse inquiry has heard.
There has been a significant decline in President Donald Trump's job approval rating since February, and it is most noticeable among white evangelical Protestants, a group that proved to be his core voting bloc in the 2016 elections.
The European Parliament has reportedly threatened to impose sanctions against Poland if the country's lawmakers approve a church-backed legislation that would ban abortions on handicapped fetuses.