American missionary Jeff Woodke was working evangelizing Muslims in Africa when Muslim terrorists stormed his home at night and kidnapped him. They forced him to take off all his clothes down to his underwear, and they took him away and now nobody knows where he is:
A California church is now praying desperately for the safe return of an American missionary working in Niger after he was forced to strip down to his underwear and then kidnapped from his home by armed men on Friday.
The missionary, identified as 55-year-old Jeffery Woodke of McKinlyville, California, in the North Coast Journal, is a longtime aid worker with Youth With A Mission charity, according to the Independent.
“We are praying for the safety of Jeff, for the victims’ families and for peace in the region,” the Arcata First Baptist Church said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday.
As recently as Sept. 17, Woodke was listed as an instructor at Redwood Coast School of Missions which is operated by the Arcata First Baptist Church.
“Jeff Woodke is a home grown product of Arcata First Baptist Church where as a student at Humboldt State University he gave his life to Christ,” the church said on the school’s website.
“Jeff’s passion in providing humanitarian aid to those who are amongst the poorest in the world, coupled with his desire to see God’s Kingdom advanced in a largely Muslim world has played a large part in the life and ministry of AFBC,” the church added.
Woodke, who Reuters reports was working with a local NGO called JEMED at the time of his kidnapping, has lived in Niger since 1992. On Friday night the gunmen raided his house in central Niger, killing his guard and housekeeper before driving him across the desert toward Mali, Niger’s interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“These criminals are now heading toward Mali. Our forces are on their trail,” Niger’s Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told Reuters.
Residents reported hearing gunfire near Woodke’s home late on Friday and the town’s Mayor, Ahmed Dilo, told Reuters that gunmen first came on a motorbike to kill Woodke’s guard before whisking the missionary off in a truck.
A government source also told CNN on condition of anonymity that witnesses in Abalak said the gunmen forced Woodke to strip down to his undergarments before putting him in their four-wheel drive vehicle. The source said removing clothes from hostages was a usual practice of terrorist groups trying to avoid being tracked.
Pete Thompson, a spokesperson for YWAM, which the church directed questions to on Saturday, told the Independent that JEMED was a partner organization.
“It is not known where he has been taken and no group has yet claimed responsibility for his abduction,” Thompson said.
“His family have been informed and the U.S. government is tracking the situation,” he added. (source)
Hopefully he will come back alive. It is very likely he is undergoing serious forms of torture right now simply for bringing the gospel to Muslims. Given the fact that Islam permits and has a long history of raping non-Muslims in captivity regardless of gender because they are not regarded as humans and the fact that they stripped him to his underwear, it is possible they may be raping him as well.
Pray for Mr. Woodke’s safety, but most importantly that he would remain strong in the Lord to the end if necessarily so. For just like the Christian martyrs of the ancient world, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and it is those who persevere to the end are the ones who will be saved.