Abducted but not Forsaken – a Story of Hope and God’s Faithfulness
When we face difficult times this verse might well rank among the most comforting:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
In the midst of dark circumstances we hold to that promise like a ship holds to its anchor in a storm. And when we’re on the other side of the storm and can look back and say, “Yes, God was faithful once again,” we’re assured anew of God’s faithfulness. But when the storm is raging around us it helps to hear and read other people’s stories of God’s faithfulness.
Okongo Samson’s life is one such story. Kidnapped and brutalized by a terrorist army followed by his miraculous escape and long, painful recovery from the physical and emotional toll was only the beginning of a riveting story of hope that eventually led to the founding of Unite 4 Africa. It’s a story that needs to be told to millions of people in need of hope and assurance that God’s promises can be counted on.
Just over a year ago we began working with Okongo on a book titled Abducted but not Forsaken: How One Man’s Escape from a Notorious Terrorist Brought Hope to Africa. We are now just months away from its publication. It is our intent and prayer that this book will make its way around the world sharing the hope of God’s faithfulness with millions in need of that hope.
I wanted you, as a friend of Unite 4 Africa, to be among the first to read this brief excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you a taste of the book’s encouraging message of God’s faithfulness.
One week after I was saved, I was at home laying on a parr, a grass fiber mat that served as my bed. Everyone slept together near one another. I had just finished reading the Bible I had received as a gift at the camp by the light of a kerosene lamp. It was a passage from the book of John, which I had been reading daily along with the Psalms ever since I accepted Jesus. I was still easily brought to tears since my decision, and I was crying once more as I thought about what I had just read from the Bible.
Then I heard it.
God’s voice—physically audible and as clear as if He were sitting right there in the room next to me. No one else laying nearby heard it, only me.
He said, “I want to use you to the uttermost parts of the world to bring transformation to many people who are in need spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and economically, and to bring healing. You will go through challenges.”
His call was quite specific, and it was accompanied by a vision of me with crowds of people in different countries around the world. In some of those images, I was leading the crowds. But it really didn’t make sense to me. I never thought then that I would someday lead diverse groups of people around the world the way I am today. At that point, I thought leaders had to come from either foreign countries or local wealthy families. In addition, I grew up in a place where my family struggled to have the basics of food and clothing. I had never traveled to any significant town or city outside of my remote village.
Spiritually, I connected to what God was saying, and I quietly responded, “I am ready, Lord, for the challenges. Bring it on!” Later, I’d sometimes wish He hadn’t said that I’d go through challenges. I had no idea how severe they would become. I also knew I had felt a void without God and wanted to tell others about Him. But to meet the physical needs of others to the “uttermost parts,” or even to serve these people, when my own needs were so great? It was hard for me to reconcile the two.
“How can this be?” I wondered aloud. “I don’t know what the uttermost parts of the world are. How will I reach there?”
It sounded like a vain dream or imagination, but God’s voice kept saying, “I want to use you to the uttermost parts of the world.”
Okongo’s book is going to be used by God in ways I’m sure we can’t begin to imagine. Our world is in desperate need of assurance “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Okongo’s amazing story will offer tangible evidence of just how faithful God is. It would be so encouraging to Okongo and Shyla to hear from you that you’ll be praying for the writing, editing, and publication process in the coming months and especially that lives will be powerfully impacted by the book’s message of hope.
Unite 4 Africa Board Member