By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI (BosNewsLife)– A Christian mission leader “kidnapped by terrorists” in north-eastern India has been released and was with his wife and children Tuesday, July 31, unharmed, missionaries said.
Missionary Ponnachan George was abducted from the Bible school campus he oversees in Karbi Anglong district of Assam state on July 23 “and held amid death threats and demands for a large ransom,” explained Gospel for Asia (GFA), a mission group supporting him.
“These people are known for shooting and killing in cold blood for their cause,” George said in remarks attributed to him in a GFA statement. “I was frightened and really thought I would never be freed. I thought about my wife and young children and felt helpless. That is when I began to meditate on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Bible became a source of strength, George said. “I recalled the words of [Apostle] Paul in [Bible chapter] Acts 20 saying ‘I don’t regard my life dear to myself’. I was reminded that my leader sent me out with a ‘one-way ticket’ to this mission field.”
George was reportedly abducted at gunpoint, blindfolded with hands tied behind his back, and forced to walk for hours deep into the forest to what the GFA called “the terrorists’ hideout.”
Throughout his week in captivity, he was allegedly told that he would not live. “The terrorists discussed within his hearing plans for demanding money and his ultimate death,” GFA said.
GFA stressed that it maintains a non-negotiation policy in such circumstances and that no ransom was paid for George’s release. Instead the agency mobilized a worldwide “prayer” vigil, explained K. P. Yohannan, GFA founder and president.
“Thank God — your prayers are answered!”, he wrote to the mission organization’s supporters in an e-mail message over the weekend.
An “urgent call to prayer for George’s safe release” had been issued late last week, GFA said.
“All around the world, the people of God prayed for our beloved Pastor Ponnachan, and just as in [Bible chapter] Acts 12 when Peter was released from prison, we have experienced His mercy,” added Yohannan in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
Upon his release, George reportedly spoke to GFA President Yohannan and “wept for an extended” time. Throughout the ordeal, local police force, army personnel and high-level officials from both state and federal governments worked together for his release, according to Christians familiar with the case.
No more details were immediately available.
GFA is one of the larger mission organizations in India, supporting native missionaries and churches throughout the heavily Hindu state.
There have been several cases of abductions of devoted Christians and missionaries in India.
It was not immediately clear which group was responsible for the latest abduction, but several Hindu organizations are known to appose the spread of Christianity. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).