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HOSTAGE’S WIFE: “Look for the Promises of God and Pray”
25 MIN

It was four in the morning when Els Woodke answered the phone to hear the words she’d been praying for and waiting on for six-and-a-half years: “Jeff has been recovered!”

The last two weeks we’ve shared the story of Jeffery Woodke, American gospel worker in West Africa captured by Islamists and held hostage for more than six years. Now, Jeff’s wife, Els, shares her side of the story of waiting and wondering and praying through that long ordeal—and how God helped her never to hate Jeff’s captors.

“The moment I heard Jeff was kidnapped, I cried out to God,” Els says.

Shortly after Jeff’s abduction, Els felt the Lord saying to her, “I want you to love the enemy.” She answered that call, never letting bitterness or anger toward the terrorists holding Jeff find a place in her heart.

“I lived in the Psalms,” she says, often taking the prayers and promises recorded by the Psalmist and making them her own prayers for Jeff. Among those prayers was, “Keep him alive in famine” and “deliver him from death,” based on Psalm 33:19. After Jeff’s release in March, 2023, Els learned that his circumstances in captivity had been even worse than she could’ve imagined.

Listen in as Els speaks to the people all around the world who prayed for Jeff’s release and for her. It strengthened her faith to hear that people were fervently and faithfully praying for Jeff—for years—without knowing his condition. “Thank you for your faithfulness,” Els says as she shares how peoples’ prayers encouraged her to keep the faith. Please continue to pray for Jeff and Els Woodke as they continue to reconnect and recover from their experience and forced separation.

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