LEBANON, Ohio – An American arrested and held for nearly six months in North Korea for leaving a Bible at a nightclub attended services Sunday in his home church in southwest Ohio.
WHIO-TV (http://bit.ly/12K1p3o ) reported that Jeffrey Fowle attended Sunday School, followed by a church service, at Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon. The 56-year-old father of three was with his wife and children.
Fowle was reunited with them Wednesday after a plane carrying him landed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He was released by North Korea after negotiations involving retired diplomat and former Ohio Congressman Tony Hall.
Church congregants applauded as Fowle and his family walked on stage Sunday. The Rev. Tom Pendergrass prayed with them.
Fowle has said little since returning. He said Sunday: "It's good to be here."
Pendergrass said earlier that there would be a special time of prayer and celebration at the end of each service Sunday.
"We are rejoicing that Jeff Fowle has been released," Pendergrass said.
Hall, who used his connections with North Korean officials to discuss Fowle's case, said many people were involved in the talks that led to Fowle's release. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, along with China and Japan and envoys from Mongolia, also were involved, Hall said.
Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29 and was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at the nightclub, something he acknowledged in interviews with The Associated Press. Christian evangelism is considered a crime in North Korea.
He had been awaiting trial. Two other Americans still held in North Korea have been convicted and sentenced to years in prison.