Rescue the Captors
American bush pilot Russell Stendal, on routine business, landed his plane in a remote Colombian village. Gunfire exploded throughout the town and within minutes Russell's 142 day ordeal had begun. The Colombian cartel explained that this was a kidnapping for ransom and that he would be held until payment was made.
Held at gunpoint deep in the jungle and with little else to occupy his time, Russell got ahold of some paper and began to write. He told the story of his life and kept a record of his experience in the guerrilla camp. His “book” became a bridge to the men who held him hostage and now serves as the basis for this incredible true story of how God’s love penetrated a physical and ideological jungle.
How did this incredible true story affect Russell? “At first my mind went wild with thoughts of revenge and violence. Then, after a while, I was able to see through their attempt to break me down and brainwash me. I started making a determined effort to throw all their stories and dramas out of my mind and not to let my thoughts dwell on them at all. I would trust God that He would take care of my wife and I would close my mind to my captors’ input. I decided to think about positive values instead.”
“I told them that they had two choices, either kill me, or let me go for whatever small amount my family could afford. One of the guerrillas turned and asked me if I was afraid to die. I replied that dying is obviously uncomfortable, but yes, I was prepared to die.”
“My captors tied me up and left the rope on day and night. They were seriously trying to completely break me psychologically and then brainwash me. Every day new things were done to alter me and work towards that goal. My captors started telling me scare stories. Some of these stories were about wild animals. They told me some of the wildest, hair-raising tales about lions and tigers that I have ever heard. These stories were designed both to intimidate me, reducing my ability to sleep, and to cause me to think twice before I decided to try to escape into the jungle again.”
“God used my hostage situation to show me that I had been guilty of resisting God’s hand on my life and had therefore been unwittingly spending an unnecessary amount of time in that spiritual birth canal being squeezed all out of shape instead of coming out into the light and being born again. I decided that I was going to forget my own big missionary plans and projects, and instead I would concentrate on discerning where God was moving and then try to jump on His bandwagon – God taught me how to be a true missionary for Him. I began to react towards problems and adversity as opportunities to learn important things and as opportunities for God to use me to bring glory to Himself. My life changed to one of victory in Jesus Christ. I still have problems, difficulties, and even an occasional defeat; but now I can clearly see the design and purpose that God has for my life. If I have the right attitude, God can reign over everything that happens in my life and teach me something useful from even the most difficult experiences.”
Rescue the Captors 2
Can two arch-enemies reconcile? One man found they can if someone will demonstrate grace, mercy, and faith.
Rescue the Captors II follows on the heels of Russell’s first book, Rescue the Captors I which was written to his captors while they held him hostage for five months in the jungle of Colombia. Who feels like showing love to angry guerrillas holding him hostage, threatening his life, and demanding magnificent sums of money? Russell did just that as God showed him that he was actually no better than those thugs. He needed to offer them the same Hope Christ would have.
Showing love during a hostile hostage situation threw open doors of ministry to rebel Colombian guerrillas and paramilitary. Russell's missionary work persuaded these opposing forces to reconcile their differences, forgive one another, and resolve to let past differences go - resulting in one group even providing material relief to their long-time enemies!
The Hidden Agenda
God is moving in the hearts of powerful leaders in all the Colombian fighting factions, and peaceful meetings are now taking place in Havana, Cuba.
Marxists guerillas, right-wing paramilitary, and the Colombian government each have their own agenda. Who would have guessed a meeting of the minds would take place under the helpful auspices of communist Cuba? And that these battle-scarred leaders would give reporters and missionaries the opportunity to challenge some of their core philosophies and even pray with them?
During the often intense negotiations, it becomes obvious that even the most hardened individuals can have a change of heart. Previously seen only as men to be feared, these powerful leaders are now turning to the only one who can provide lasting peace – the Lord. The Stendals have witnessed Army generals having daily prayer and distributing Bibles to their troops, guerrilla commanders requesting and receiving prayer for healing, paramilitary commanders asking their many victims, one by one, to forgive them, and many other powerful demonstrations of what the Lord does through those willing to love their enemies. God’s agenda is winning, and we watch in awe.