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KIDNAPPED GOSPEL WORKER: Forgiveness is the Best Weapon We Have
24 MIN

“It’s better to be dead than taken hostage.”

When Jeff Woodke said those words, he didn’t know that he would be taken hostage from his home in Niger in 2016. But Woodke, a long-term relief and gospel worker in West Africa, did know there were risks.

Risk wasn’t such a big issue in the early years of the ministry of Jeff and his wife, Els, in Niger with Youth With a Mission (YWAM). They worked in church planting, discipleship, and evangelism among the Wodaabe people. Niger was an open country, with churches throughout. What Christian persecution there was came from family members or neighbors who opposed following Jesus. However, over time the rise of Salafist Islam changed Niger—and increased their risk.

Listen as Jeff recalls the night he was kidnapped and how the image of orange flashes from the guns which killed his guards are seared into his memory.

Naked and bloody, Jeff was forced into the back seat of a truck and driven away, not knowing who his captors were or how long his captivity might last. Over the years, Jeff was transferred into the custody of multiple terror groups, beaten and mistreated. As a Christian who refused to embrace Islam, Jeff was seen as an animal. Some of his guards were only 12 years old.

Yet Jeff says renouncing his faith in Christ and becoming a Muslim to get better treatment was never an option. Jeff shares what helped him during those difficult days and how he knew the Lord was with him. Listen as he tells why forgiveness was key and how he took opportunity daily to express it to his captors.

Please pray for Jeff and Els as they continue to recover from the more than six years of Jeff’s captivity and come back next week as Jeff continues to share more of his experience being a hostage and his eventual release and freedom.

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