Captive Missionary

Kidnapped, by Karl and Debbie Dortzbach (Harper & Row, 1975, 177 pp., $5.95) is reviewed by Philip Siddons, pastor, Wright’s Corner United Presbyterian Church, Lockport, New York.

It has been said that man’s greatest fear is fear of the unknown. The narrative of the missionary nurse taken hostage by rebel Ethiopian guerrillas supports the theory. The chapters are alternately written by Karl and Debbie Dortzbach. Though Karl’s reflections are mostly theological in tone, it should be remembered that all he had was a blind hope that his wife would be returned safely—a trust in God’s provision that had to defy every painful image his imagination could evoke.

Debbie was pregnant, was forced to run two hours at gunpoint, and underwent the horror of seeing her nurse companion murdered. She was exhausted physically and mentally. She suffered meager food allotments, unsanitary conditions, and constant fear of what her captors would do to her. Still she was with human beings—creatures capable of almost any horror, yet also capable of doing right.

Her underlying trust in God enabled her to make several discoveries. She realized that true freedom is not defined by one’s relationship to others; freedom is within. In the midst of a cholera-and malaria-infested chaos of fear and uncertainty, she was freed to rise above her situation. Although she constantly felt bitter toward her captors, she was able to turn her attention from herself toward them—and to attempt to love them. She was able to discern some of the meaning of denying self, taking up one’s cross daily, and following Him. Although she was a captive, she was free to see the charm of an obscure nomad woman, free to observe bugs and birds, and free to notice a sign ...

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