Alliance News Feed – Trial by Fire Leads to Transformed Life
by Bob Fugate, an Alliance international worker serving with his wife, Cheryl, in Mexico
For two long years as a pastor in the Breath of Life church in Guadalajara, I did all I knew to help Miguel* believe that God loved him and that he could have new life in Christ.
His wife, Marie, attended church every Sunday, but he never joined her. I baptized their two daughters, but Miguel refused to attend the service. The day I performed the wedding of one of his daughters, he barely said a word to me. Mostly polite but stubbornly, intensely resistant, Miguel had decided that God and the church were irrelevant to his life.
Last month all of that changed. In a momentary realization that his life wasn’t so great, Miguel uttered a prayer of repentance. He asked God to help him straighten out his life—a prayer that would change his life forever. Miguel had no idea what was about to hit him.
Days later, several men highjacked Miguel’s Audi and stole the large amount of cash he had withdrawn from the bank. Then they took him to a ranch outside of town, where they held him for ransom.
Miguel suffered beatings, threats, and abuse—and even the loss of his eyesight. Stripped and tormented, he endured mock executions** and the cruel taunting of men who used him for target practice. When he tried to secretly contact his wife, he was severely beaten.
Incredibly, Miguel remained calm and quiet throughout the ordeal, which only infuriated his captors. He knew instantly that his kidnapping was not a random event but a direct and compelling answer from God.
Before he repented, Miguel had not prayed in years. He was bitter and angry at God. After he finally turned to the Lord and ventured a prayer for help two days before he was kidnapped, he knew this was not coincidence and that God was responding to his plea.
Miguel was at peace because God had answered his prayer—proving that He exists, that He was in complete control of the situation, and that He would help Miguel. “I never doubted for a minute that I would survive because this was God at work,” he later said.
A Way of Life
In Mexico, kidnapping by drug cartels is a way of life. As a pastor in this country, I’ve watched families suffer in silence, frustrated at being unable to help secure their loved ones’ release. If any family members disclose the kidnapping, the cartel will kill the entire family.
Pastors are a trusted source of confidential help, and we can provide prayer and encouragement to those suffering, as we did for Miguel’s family members. While he was in captivity, they attended church that Sunday, careful to avoid revealing any hint of a problem to the congregation. Marie took me aside and told me what had happened. My wife, Cheryl, and I prayed for Miguel.
After the service, Marie approached me, remarkably calm. She said the Lord had answered her prayer—she knew that Miguel was in God’s hands, and she had peace. “When the kidnappers call tomorrow,” she told me, “I will say goodbye to my husband in love.” She didn’t expect to ever see him again, even if she could manage the ransom.
A Changed Man
Amazingly, several days later Miguel was released. Marie had sold what she could, borrowed from friends, and secured a loan to pay the ransom.
Upon his release, Miguel told his captors that he would not retaliate. The old Miguel would have gathered his guns and friends to seek revenge—and likely end up in an unmarked grave, leaving his wife a widow and his children fatherless.
But Miguel walked out of that place a changed man. Instead of getting even, he prayed with me for God’s forgiveness and the filling of the Holy Spirit. God’s power broke the cycle of violence in Miguel and replaced it with forgiveness.
Four weeks have passed, and Miguel now attends church with his family. Last week I saw an amazing sight—Miguel helping in church with a big smile on his face. His eyesight is almost fully recovered, the swelling and bruises gone. He is a man grateful to a merciful God for a miracle that changed his life.
The family has a long road ahead to repay loans and get back on their feet financially. But for them, all of that is secondary because they have the joy of the Lord.
What You Can Do
Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is the only hope for Mexico. We invite you to join us in praying for the many who suffer at the hands of drug cartels and for the work God has called us to do in Guadalajara.
Pray too for the hearts of those involved in the cartels. They often kidnap, terrorize, and even kill Christians who stand in the way of their crimes.
**A mock execution is a form of psychological torture in which victims are deliberately but falsely made to feel that their execution is imminent. It might involve blindfolding the subjects, making them dig their own grave, or holding an unloaded gun to their head and pulling the trigger.
Source: Alliance News Feed – Trial by Fire Leads to Transformed Life