Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben's Kidnapping - Part 7

Make sure you've read the earlier parts of the story, before you read this part:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Late Monday afternoon, Ben was awakened from his nap under the rock by the sound of a loud SNAP in the forest nearby. The kidnapper was instantly alert, grabbed his gun, and warned Ben to remain silent. A few minutes passed and nothing more was heard, so the kidnapper gradually relaxed somewhat. He nervously unloaded and reloaded his rifle, and then they settled back down under the rock, just sitting quietly, as the sky grew dark. 

Once the kidnapper deemed it dark enough, he and Ben emerged from their shelter and started off through the underbrush. They were not following a path, and the kidnapper untied Ben's hands so that he could keep his balance better and catch himself when he would start to slip and fall on the muddy, uneven ground. After a good bit of walking - Ben couldn't tell me many details about this walk in the dark, except that it "went on forever" - the kidnapper stopped in a quiet spot where the forest met a cow pasture. He tied Ben's hands, blindfolded him, and then placed a phone call. 

Ben could hear that the other caller was a woman. The kidnapper said, "We're here, at number two," and the woman answered, "I'm coming, I'm coming." As they awaited the arrival of the woman, the kidnapper moved Ben a short distance, and they sat down on some large rocks, because the ground was still very wet from the earlier rain. 

After about fifteen minutes the woman came and brought them some beans and tortillas in a small pot, two plates, two small bags of chips and two cans of peach juice. While the woman was with them Ben remained blindfolded, but after she left the kidnapper took off the blindfold and untied his hands so that he could eat. Ben was disappointed to find that the cans of juice were frozen almost solid, and they had to let them thaw some before they could drink. They quickly ate everything except the bags of chips - the kidnapper put those into his woven bag, stating that they would save them to eat the next day. Ben related that while the kidnapper had seemed nervous all day, the woman seemed much more nervous, and she was clearly angry about something.

After the meal, Ben and the kidnapper sat for a few moments, and the kidnapper grew chatty, talking about how he was scared that we might have contacted the police, who then would be looking for him. Soon they got up, and carrying the dishes from their meal with them (in a larger bag the woman had brought them in), they started off walking. In about 5 minutes they came to a place where Ben could see a streetlight in the distance. They stopped while the kidnapper blindfolded him, then continued walking, for about 5 more minutes. 

During this bit of blindfolded walking, Ben encountered a local plant which causes immediate stinging and itchiness when it touches the skin - he couldn't see to avoid it, of course - and from then until sometime in the middle of the night he dealt with inflamed skin, from the tops of his shoes to about five inches up his legs. Fortunately they were close to the end of their walking for that day. They arrived at a house.

They entered the house, and the kidnapper did not turn on any lights. He had Ben sit on the edge of a bed, and he took off Ben's shoes and blindfold, and then tied both his hands and his feet. The bed had a full size mattress, with rough sheets and one pillow. There was also a twin size bed in the room, and the woman who had brought them their meal was in that bed - Ben knew that because her phone rang and he heard her speak, and he could see a bit from the light of her cellphone. The kidnapper let Ben use the pillow on the larger bed, and Ben, exhausted from the day he'd had, was soon asleep with his kidnapper lying beside him. The itching and stinging of his legs kept him from sleeping very soundly, though, and he was grateful for the nap he'd had under the rock earlier.

On Tuesday morning they awoke at dawn. The kidnapper blindfolded Ben, picked him up, and spun him around a few times to disorient him, so that Ben wouldn't be able to tell the direction back to the house. He carried Ben for about 15 minutes. Ben is always slow to awaken in the mornings, and that seems likely to be the reason he was carried at this point. 

Ben was then placed on the ground and his blindfold was removed. They walked across fields, often having to pass over or under barbed wire fences. After a few of these fences, the kidnapper untied Ben's hands, to make it easier for him to scramble between the wires. They walked along in this way for a couple of hours. Once, they came to a spot where there were three houses, and the kidnapper stopped and backtracked to avoid these.

Eventually they arrived at a shady place in the woods where the kidnapper stopped, and they sat down and rested. Ben could occasionally hear the sound of motorcycles and other vehicles going past on a road that was very close by, apparently just on the other side of a small hill. The kidnapper tied his hands again.

From this location, numerous phone calls were placed. During his conversations with Russell, the kidnapper frequently mentioned his "boss." The police didn't really believe there was a boss, but Ben thinks there was, as the kidnapper was calling someone else and talking to them, between some of his calls to Russell. Ben was able to overhear and understand much of the content of the conversations he heard, as the negotiations progressed. Many times Ben listened as the kidnapper threatened to kill or harm him. 

At one point Ben became seriously afraid, after an especially awful threat was made. He started crying and shaking with fear. When the kidnapper got off the phone, he gently told Ben not to worry, that he wasn't really going to hurt him, and he patted him on the head. 

Ben tells a story about his fear during this part of the kidnapping. A squirrel appeared in a nearby tree, and watching the squirrel helped him to be brave. Squirrels aren't common in our area, so it was a distraction for Ben to watch the antics of this cute and unusual (to him) animal. Gradually he began to feel quite calm. This seems to be such a small and unimportant detail, but apparently it impacted Ben deeply - he believes that God sent the squirrel to him, to help him keep up his courage.

The kidnapper had eaten his small bag of chips much earlier in the day, and Ben had gnawed on an ear of corn from a field at that same time. In the early afternoon the kidnapper's empty stomach began to growl, and Ben offered the kidnapper his bag of chips to eat. When asked why he didn't want his chips, Ben told the kidnapper that he would rather wait to get something to eat at home. The kidnapper accepted Ben's chips.

The plan was now to release Ben in exchange for a ransom of 300,000 Lempiras ($15,000). The kidnapper untied Ben's hands, telling him that he should be free to go soon, because that was a very small amount of money. To amuse himself while waiting, Ben picked up some small sticks and pieces of bark, and started throwing them at a nearby tree. The kidnapper joined him in the game, and they competed to see who had the best aim.

With the next call to Russell, the kidnapper was informed that we couldn't even pay this smallest ransom demand. He was quite angry, and Ben was afraid that the man would become physically violent with him. He retied Ben's hands, and made another phone call, to the "Boss."

This was the moment we had most feared. Although we were attempting to continue "negotiations" with the kidnapper, he had  realized that there wasn't a lot of money coming from this situation. Ben was still in the hands of his captor, and he was no longer of any value to him - he was, in fact, a potential witness against him; a source of information to the police in their investigation of this crime. There was no reason to keep Ben alive, and several logical reasons to kill him - plus there was the anger and disappointment of the kidnapper, and possibly fear of a boss' retaliation in response to the failure of their scheme.

We were out of time and had tried everything we could think of to save Ben. There was nothing more we could do. We knew God was aware of Ben's peril. We knew prayers were being lifted on his behalf. We knew that miracles can occur - but would that be God's plan for Ben? Would God move to save him?

And then, God moved. There were no paint-smeared commandos crashing through the jungle to the rescue. There were no flashbang grenades, no car chases, not even any swordplay. There was just love. The love that comes from God, that teaches us to live in ways that are more like His ways. To show mercy and compassion.  To rescue the helpless. To be kind to one another. 

As so many people around the world prayed specifically for God to soften the heart of the kidnapper . . . the young man simply decided to let Ben go home to his family unharmed.

When the man told Ben that he was free to go, Ben immediately twisted his hands and wrists around and showed the kidnapper that he could easily remove his bonds by himself. They both laughed as Ben handed the kidnapper the rope that had so often restrained him over the past 30 hours. Then the kidnapper called Russell and said, "My boss will be mad at me, but I'm going to let him go." 

The kidnapper put his arms around Ben and hugged him goodbye. Then he pointed him in the direction he needed to walk. When Ben crested the small hill next to the hiding place and saw the dirt road on the other side, he immediately knew where he was - on the road that passes right in front of our property. He was about a mile from home - an easy walk for a young boy used to living in the country. 

Ben looked back toward his kidnapper, who waved at him and called out "Adios." He turned toward the road again, and behind him he could hear the kidnapper placing a call, telling Russell where we should go to pick Ben up.

Upon receiving that call, Russell, at his home in the city of Gracias, relayed the information to Allen, who was at our home, much closer to Ben. Allen grabbed the keys and raced to the Land Cruiser. Within moments Ben was in his arms!

Russell's phone rang again, about fifteen minutes later. It was the kidnapper, checking to make sure Ben had made it back to us safely!

Ben came home, scratched and bruised, filthy and smelly, with his clothing and sneakers in tatters, and still wearing his necklace, bearing these two scriptures:

He will cover you with his feathers, under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness shall be your shield and rampart. Psalms 91:4

Love one another. John 15:17


There is now another post, relating events that happened immediately after Ben's release: After the Kidnapping

**** I am writing this post a week and a day after Ben's release. As of this point, he continues to show few signs of being traumatized by his experiences. His sleeping and eating patterns are unchanged, and he still jumps at any chance to ride to town! He jokes and laughs about the events of those 30 hours of captivity. Of course, we're keeping a close eye on this, but it would appear that the prayers for him to be protected from trauma were answered, as well as the prayers to spare his life.

****I will likely eventually write more about the events which followed the kidnapping, since this is my regular blog where I write about our lives and our ministry. I seem to have been a bit more affected by this trauma than Ben, and it is highly possibly that in my struggle to get this all down quickly while still finding my feet after these events, I left out parts of this story that have left people with questions in their minds. Although I hope that people will use the comments section of this post to praise God for his mercy and His goodness to us, I plan to put up another post soon, where you will be encouraged to ask any questions you might have.


Patty said...

Praise God for his love and his protection of you baby. This is such a story of faith. I am sure this kidnapper will never forget the struggle the Lord put upon him to do the right thing. I am also sure he will never forget what a witness Ben was.

KarenB said...

This left me in tears, Trish. The two things I prayed most consistently was that God would surround Ben with His angels to protect him, and that the kidnapper's heart would be softened towards Ben. I am so very grateful to see how God answered that prayer.

Carrie said...

In tears, here, too--even though I knew the story. Praying for you all as you recover!

Angie Phillips, Crossville TN said...

Oh Trish, I am overwhelmed with emotion. That was the most beautiful part of this tragic happening ever. Ben is my hero! He literally captured the heart of his kidnapper. I love the how he shared with him and especially where he took off his restraints himself. No doubt we have A Mighty God! And what kidnapper calls to make sure their prisoner got home alright! Praise The Lord!

Anonymous said...

I had prayed for the kidnapper's heart to be softened. I knew only God could do that. I am so touched by this whole story. We praise God for His protection of your family.

Robin E. said...

I prayed for a miracle for Ben, as from the beginning I knew a miracle was the only way he could be returned to you. But what a miracle!

I keep a "gratitude" vase, where our family writes things we are thankful for, especially answered prayer, on little slips of paper and drop it in the vase. Around Thanksgiving we will empty the vase and read all the blessings we received during the year, big and small. Ben's safe release went into the vase before I even knew of the details, and as I was crying so much at God's amazing provision, I think that one is tear stained.

Denise said...

It is my fervent prayer that Ben will one day be allowed to come for a visit here so he can watch squirrels racing around in our yard to his heart's content!

Kathleen Grieve said...

I think I'm speechless ... I feel like my breath has been taken away. What an incredible and creative God we serve! I was one of those who prayed repeatedly and specifically that God would move in the heart of the kidnapper. I am humbled that He would so clearly grant this request.

I HATE the part about Ben crying in fear ... and I LOVE the squirrel story!

Trish, you take care of your heart ... you need it and you have earned it. That is my prayer now that God will fill back up all those tanks that were depleted in you throughout this ordeal.

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord! I pray that the kidnapper's desperate need is provided for. I also pray that the softening of his heart toward Ben results also in the softening of his heart toward God. May he cone to know the love, mercy, and grace of God through Jesus the Christ as we have.

Pastor Douglas W Richards

Anonymous said...


Karen Joy said...

Amazing. We serve a simply amazing God. Like you said, many mission families have gone through similar circumstances and suffered a tragic end. And who knows why God, in His sovereignty, allowed precious Ben to live? Maybe the prayers of the saints, worldwide. Maybe to be a testimony to unbelievers. Maybe just out of His mercy... In any case, I'm so very happy your smiling boy won the heart of his captor, and all the more so, as it appears there really WAS a boss, and the captor was willing to take some heat just to release Ben... with a hug... and an 'adios'... and a call to check on him. Reading this, I'm struck with the thought that maybe Ben's generosity with the chips and the simple statement that he'd wait to eat food at home was the tipping point for the captor! Ben giving willingly, and his faith that he WOULD soon be at home... Wow. I'm so very relieved for your family.

Penney Douglas said...

I'm in tears, too, praising God for His deliverance. He obviously moved on the heart of that young man. I'm sure Ben's attitude and kindness had something to do with it, too. Praise the Lord!

Stephanie said...

Even though I watched your story unfold almost in realtime as you posted your updates for prayer, this part of it still leaves me teary and breathless. And while I had faith that you would see a miracle, I must admit that I didn't have much hope for it to take the form of softening of the kidnapper's heart. Ha! So glad God has His own ideas!

Joe Link said...

You already know that from the outset I, like many others, was asking God to work on the heart(s) of Ben's captor(s). The conclusion of the ordeal as you describe it is, therefore, a beautiful example of our Heavenly Father responding lovingly and perfectly. God and Ben captured the captor's heart!

Pam Llewellyn said...

I am so proud of Ben for maintaining a calm, childlike attitude while going through this, instead of becoming defiant, whiny, or difficult. I too was praying for the kidnapper(s) to leave him unharmed, to deal with him gently, to feel compassion and release him, but I was also praying for Ben to do nothing to provoke them as well. So grateful to God for all of these answered prayers of many thousands of people!

stephanie said...

I am in awe and sitting here in tears, speechless.

3kidmama said...

Trish, I haven't really known what to post over the past few days as I've read your posts and re-read them to my family. I'm in tears now - joyous,happy tears mostly.

My brother Tim Nelson (Siguat.) was kidnapped as well as a 14yo yrs ago during the revolution in Nicaragua. Tim was also able to escape unharmed, but I know that all of this brings up lots of discussion throughout the entire missionary community in the country as they evaluate the current climate for expats. Acutely aware of the Spiritual battle raging for Honduras - we are praying that HE continues to give you and Allen PEACE and wisdom in all areas. Also praying the same for the entire body of Honduran believers and missionaries!

I'm also praying that I get to meet that kidnapper in heaven one day because of all of the multitude of prayer on his behalf as a result of "meeting" you and Ben! Also praying that God will continue to use the attention your received throughout the country to open further doors for His Glory.

You are in His grip, my sweet Sister! - Lois in MN, sitter of gorgeous harps. :-)

La Gringa said...

Thank you and Ben for sharing the story, Trish. It was spine tingling. My guess is that "the boss" is in the police department and that is why the police are saying that there was no boss. That might also explain why certain help that you should have had didn't happen.

It always makes me sad to find that there are women involved, and there usually is, to do the cooking if nothing else. She may not have agreed with the kidnapping, but she did nothing to stop it.

I hope that you and your family recover from this quickly! Best wishes.

Orilla Crider said...

Trish you don't know me but God used your story to help boost my faith. May God bring peace to your mommy heart and continue to use you in a mighty way. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome story! Faith the size of a mustard seed!!

Julie said...

Ben's witness is an example of his relationship to God and God's direction in a Faithful Servant. The maturity Ben displayed is beyond comprehension. His Missionary future seems fairly sure, a real heart for even those who oppress. A mark of a SAINT in the making. Your Family has helped God's plan in forming a remarkable young man.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for telling your story, Trish. You did a great job!
I thank God for moving the heart of the kidnapper to release Ben.
I continue to pray for your healing from this trauma.

Laura Beck said...

Praise the Lord! What an awesome move of the Power of God!

Anonymous said...

Through this horrendous action, you and your family have been surrounded by prayers from all over the world, from family, from true friends, from those whom you know only as a distant aquaintance and from those friends of friends and aquaintances. All have been sent with love, caring and heartfelt thoughts for a happy ending to a bad situation. In his own way and as young as he is, Ben is a missionary with the same love and compassion that you as a family live daily. It shows in how he treated the kidnapper whom he should have feared and even hated. I wonder if God does not have a plan for Ben to carry on His word and bring faith, hope and love to others. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Kelly said...

Rejoicing in my heart with you.

Linda said...

I was one that prayed specifically for the kidnapper. I prayed that his heart would be softened. This is such an amazing ending and it brings me to tears every time. Such a clear answer to prayer. Continuing to pray for you all.

Allison Hastie said...

Praise the Lord! How blessed you are! I am crying tears of joy as I finish reading this incredible story. And the Bible verses on the necklace--perfect! God is SO good! You remain in my prayers. Love, Allison in Florida

Debbi said...

Wow! How truly amazing our God is that he could bring Ben home like that. Will continue to pray for your family and you as you navigate these days.

Anonymous said...

God never ceases to amaze me. His goodness, His love and compassion, the way He gently and tenderly changes my cold heart... and the heart of a kidnapper!
Every time I think of Ben my heart overflows with thanksgiving for who he is in Jesus and for how he loves like Jesus.
Praying for you my dear friend to know the peace and healing God brings.
Grateful for all God's blessings especially this one!!!!
Beth Webb

Strauss House said...

You don't know me, but I'm one of the many who prayed for your son through a friend's fb post... incredible story. Absolutely amazing. Praise God for his loving-kindess which leads men to repentance - the fact that the kidnapper just let your son go after all that! Such a God thing to soften that man's heart! Blessings on you all as you continue your ministry and make sense of this life changing event.

shannon said...

Praise God for his REAL power! Praise God for Bens adventurous, warrior-like spirit. Praise God for making a wrong, a right.....because a lot went right. Trish, u got this and you will be better than ever because of it. This I'm sure. Somehow I have a place in my heart for this "wanna-be" kidnapper that demonstrated he really doesn't have the heart of a kidnapper at all..ill be interested to know if your lives ever cross paths again....

Little Women said...

Thank you for posting this story! It is amazing and heart-warming to see God's hand at work.

I was led to pray a lot, especially around 2pm (US Central time), and then felt the burden lift. I am so thankful to God for answering all our prayers on his and your behalf.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me. I found out about this through Facebook, a friend posted that your son had been kidnapped and I started praying. And now... I'm in tears! I can't get over how amazing our God is, how He works in the craziest ways and how he takes care of His children. Ben was so mature and at the same time demonstrated to have a child-like faith! I now pray for your heart, that the Lord would give you His peace!

Anonymous said...

I stand in awe of God. He is amazing. Cant Thank Him enough for what He did. We need Ben's kind of faith. Claudia Allen

Unknown said...

Love you mucho, Trish. You are brave to share your story with us. Call me anytime, friend. You have my number. If you need it again, find me on Facebook.

restoltz06 said...

Amazing, amazing God!! Thank you for sharing!

Merry said...

Praising God with you Trish! Thank you so much for writing this all out--I loved all the pictures and was in tears several times. Love the scriptures he was wearing--praising God!!!

Angie said...

Praise the Lord! I love the small details: the squirrel, tossing the butterflies, sharing the chips - the Lord was at work! I received an email through a homeschool email chain and prayed for you all. Thank you for sharing the story so quickly and encouraging us in our prayer life. I pray you're momma's heart will find peace!

Megan said...

Your story has been so encouraging and inspiring. Thank you for faithfully sharing what the Lord is doing in your life. I spent the summer in Honduras (in Siqua) and returned only three weeks ago. As I read the story of the kidnapping I could imagine the shock you must be going through. But I cried with joy when I read this last post when I saw the answered prayers of so many in the softened heart of the kidnapper. As you process this difficult and trying experience I pray the Lord will give you comfort in his sovereignty. I am a college student in Tennessee but love Honduras so much. I know that despite the corruptness, poverty, and crime, our Great God is working. Don't let Satan win!

Anonymous said...

So glad Ben was released and the abductors heart softened. I find myself hoping the kidnapper leaves this a changed man and changes his life. Thanks to God for a positive outcome.

Unknown said...

When I heard that the kidnapper released Ben I was ecstatic and said to my husband:

"Well that is what happens when bowls full of prayer rain down all over you!"

Can you see it overflowing bowls of prayer fulled to the brim splashing down all over him.

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy for you that this potential tragedy turned out so well. Though I've never met y'all, from the photos Ben looks like a special person, and it would be a hard-hearted kidnapper indeed who'd be able to do him harm.

But thank God that didn't happen.

May you continue to enjoy the love and prayers of all whose lives your story has touched.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we found your blog through Laurie Mathern's. Admirable work your all doing there.

Unknown said...

Tears reading this! God Bless Ben now Prayers for you all to heal. I did medical missionary work as a surgical nurse there in the late 80's. so many people so thankful for our work. Then the gorilla's attacked the city while we had boys on the operating room table doing hernia surgeries as the young boys worked so hard carrying heavy loads many suffered inguinal hernia's. the state department got us out safely. Seeing Ben's pictures reminded me the the children we helped and a mission that changed my life. Thank you for contuing to share your story and trust the moment I heard about the kidnapping my family and friends all started prayer chains in the Florida keys! Continued prayers.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have been lucky enough to see several of God's miracles since 1975. But the best thing is they don't get old they remind one how much we need Him, how little power we have and just how Powerful and Mighty our God truly is! Amen. I'm so glad both you, Trish, and Ben are home and safe. Sounds like God went so far as to protect Ben from emotional trauma as well. Mom's always worry and good moms find a way to raise secure kids who don't. God'll help through the rest Trish he doesn't do half-way jobs or miracles.

Jennifer said...

Wow! Praise God!! I followed a link that was shared on facebook to get here. I started reading and I thought the name and location sounded familiar. Turns out I also used to post on the homeschool forum that you were on. I didn't post a lot, but I remember you and bucket boy. :) said...

Since my own daughter and her family are missionary teachers in another 3rd world country, the news of your family (through a mutual friend) really hit my heart in a huge way. I've cried with you and prayed alongside you. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank You Jesus for your protection over Ben and the softening of the kidnapper's heart. Nothing is impossible with You. Still weepy after finishing part 7 (I was behind in my reading of parts 5-7). Again, thanks for sharing His faithfulness with all of us.

Sue said...

I found you through Ginger Kay and am so happy for you, for Ben, for your whole family. It was surely the peach and protection of God that shielded you and Ben. Thank you for your story. You were brave when you did not want to be.