Missionary freed after nearly 7 years in Muslim captivity

Missionary freed after nearly 7 years in Muslim captivity

A YWAM missionary in the US who was kidnapped in Niger nearly seven years ago was released this month. The news was shared by the church who sent him to the field in a Facebook post.

Jeffery Woodke had been kidnapped in October 2016 by a Muslim extremist group. He was released alongside a French journalist named Olivier Dubois, who spent two years in captivity, along with the missionary.

“Please keep Jeff and Els in your prayers as he navigates his newfound freedom and the many challenges that lie ahead of him. We are so grateful for God’s faithfulness,” reads the post from First Arcata Baptist Church, California (USA), on Facebook.

According to information from the portal The Christian PostWhite House national security adviser Jake Sullivan wrote on Twitter that he is “grateful” for the release of the missionary and the journalist.

“I am relieved to see the release of American hostage Jeff Woodke after more than 6 years in captivity. The United States thanks Niger for its help in bringing him home to everyone who loves and misses him,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter. “I thank so many in our government who have worked tirelessly to secure your freedom,” he added.

A government official told reporters that no ransom had been paid. Missionary Woodke was kidnapped when armed extremists broke into his home in Abalak, murdered his guards and kidnapped him.

He worked at Niger for about 30 years, building schools and digging wells to provide access to water in regions without supply. He was also an instructor at the Redwood Coast School of Missions, which is maintained by the First Baptist Church in Arcata.

“Jeff Woodke is a homegrown product of First Baptist Church in Arcata, where, as a student at Humboldt State University, he committed his life to Christ. Jeff’s passion to provide humanitarian aid to those who are among the world’s poorest, along with his desire to see God’s Kingdom advance in a largely Muslim environment, has played an important role in the life and ministry of AFBC,” added the congregation.

According to Open Doors Mission, Niger is a Muslim-majority nation known for having several Islamic terrorist groups operating in the country and ranks 28th on a list of 50 countries most hostile to Christians.


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