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In one of the first messages you sent out [during a radio interview arranged by your captors], the Abu Sayyaf told you very explicitly, "Tell the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pull back. Stop shooting." But later, it sounds like the message was heartfelt when you said, "Stop shooting. Coming with guns blazing is just going to get us killed." Was that you speaking at that stage?

Yes. One time, Martin wrote a letter to a certain colonel. [The captors] told Martin, "The colonel in charge of this area is so and so. Would you like to write him a letter and ask him to stop the campaign?" And that's all he said. Martin wrote the whole letter and told him a bunch of good reasons to stop" How did Martin say it? The Abu Sayyaf are going to survive this campaign, but the hostages are not. That was very heartfelt. No one told us to say that.

Were there things you were actually forbidden from communicating?


Immediately when you guys were taken hostage, New Tribes Mission issued a press release that was widely circulated, but then there was an effort to tone the publicity down.

They told our families the same thing.

They didn't want to raise …

… our value.

Do you think that made any difference either way?

I don't know. That may have made a difference for Guillermo [Sobero, who was executed].

The Abu Sayyaf were very upset that there was a news blackout in the Philippines. [They thought] if they raised a big stink, probably somebody would have come forward sooner with a ransom. Maybe. I don't know. I've met so many people since I've been in the States who have said, "We wanted to raise a ransom for you. We started it. We could have gotten a ransom together for you, but so and so would not let that happen." Sometimes they named the FBI. Sometimes they named a member of the family. Sometimes they named the mission. So maybe if it had been a big, huge thing … Who really cares, I guess. It didn't happen.

You're very strong willed throughout the book. You had times of breaking down, but you seem like you never lost sight of certain things. Like you say, you never lost sight of who the enemy is. What do you think protected you from the Stockholm Syndrome?

Probably Martin and I in conversation. I did watch a news clip, where they had shown part of [our videotaped] interview. And I said something about how "I really love these kids in here. I wish I could do something for them. I'd do anything for these boys." And they mentioned that was a Stockholm syndrome thing. Maybe it was.

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On the other hand, we were seeing life for these kids the way it really was. And maybe it's just because Martin and I would talk everything out. We would remind ourselves this kid's here for money. Right? He wants to get married. The only way to get a dowry is to get some money, and there's no money in his family and there's no job available. So he joined the Abu Sayyaf. You make your wad, you go home, and you get married. A lot of them don't even believe in the holiness of jihad.

So many of the other hostages converted to Islam, and stayed Muslim even after they were set free. They would say things like, "The Abu Sayyaf is bad, but I've seen the true light of Islam."

[Our captors] would come to us and say, "Are you ready to convert to Islam?" And I would look at them like What on earth have I seen here that would ever make me want to convert to Islam? All I've seen is a lot of double talk and a lot of people who don't really know what they believe. I used to ask Martin, "Why on earth would they think we were ready to convert to Islam? They're marching us through a jungle with guns on our backs."

I can tell you why Ediborah [Yap] and Sheila [Tabunag] converted. They were told, "If you convert, we'll let you go." They may have told the other hostages that, too.

But it seems to have stuck for some of them even after they were free.

I guess if a person doesn't truly know the Lord and know what the Lord did for them, one religion is just as good as the other. Because if you're not founded in your religion, everybody is just trying to be good enough to be accepted by God. If you can do it the Islam way, then go ahead. We all have this thing in our hearts that tells us we're not right with God. Right? We want to do what we can. And if you're not rooted in what you believe, then why not convert? It might just work.

Where does their view of Islam come from?

I'd love to say it's coming from the Qur'an, but it's not. According to the guys we were with—the religious leaders—the Qur'an is very loose. It's open to loose interpretation, and that's the way Muhammad wanted it. He wanted people to be able to read in what they want to read in.

One guy told us, "I'm a searcher. And maybe I'll come around to your way of thinking someday, but for now I'm going to believe what I've been told." But that same guy had never read the whole Qur'an. The Qur'an is not a long book. I think I met two people in [more than 100 that] we met who had read the Qur'an through. The ones that had read the Qur'an through didn't speak Arabic, but they read it through in Arabic. They learned how to pronounce the words, and they read it over and over in Arabic without understanding. So no one in that group understood what the Qur'an said.

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Some of those guys had gone to Europe and been taught by someone linked to Al-Qaeda. So I think their views are [shaped by] whoever taught them their theology.

After September 11, was there a change in the way that your captivity was viewed?

Yes. [Some people] say that September 11 brought our case more to the public eye, and especially to the people who make a difference: the President and the Senators. Martin and I in the jungle thought the opposite. We thought that September 11 had totally ruined our chances—that they were going to be mad at all terrorists and wouldn't deal. But my family says that September 11 … really focused attention.

Did you think much about David Mankins and the other New Tribes missionaries who had been taken hostage in Panama in 1993 and pronounced dead while you were being held hostage?

Yes. I prayed for their wives quite often. And I would say to Martin, "How could they do this year after year after year? What must they be thinking?" Somebody should have paid their ransom. They should have. Families wanted to. What a sad thing.

When the Abu Sayyaf found out you and Martin were missionaries, it sounded like they were irritated.

They were disappointed, yes.

You guys were not based in a place where the Abu Sayyaf was running around. But do you think that the Abu Sayyaf would have generally avoided taking missionaries? Or do you think they just go wherever there are possible hostages to take?

I think any foreigner is worth more money than a Filipino. They don't care what they are. If they had a choice of foreigners, they of course, would raid a factory over the mission compound because they know missionaries don't have money and big companies do. On the other hand, a big company is going to have security and missionary compounds are not.

I don't think they think through things a lot, to be quite honest. I think they take whoever happens to be in their area and within their reach, if it's going to benefit them. Then they decide what they're going to do with them.

If we'd been working in a Muslim area trying to convert Muslims, more than likely we would have been the ones to die when they were trying to make a statement.

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So they didn't have a problem with missionaries who were engaged in an evangelistic effort?

No, actually they were impressed with us because we were reaching people who knew nothing about God. We were working with them, telling them about the one true God. We believe in the same God. I hope that doesn't sound like heresy. Allah is the God who made everything, right? He owns everything. You're personally responsible to him. He's the one that keeps the universe going. He's the one who has ultimate authority and is going to judge the world.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Yes. That sounds to me like Jehovah God. So we never had a problem seeing the same Father God. And probably if I were in a Muslim area I would use the term Allah. They just need a little bit of re-teaching. Allah is a few more attributes than you're giving him credit for. He's a God of love. He may be a God of mercy and holiness and will make sure that righteousness and justice is carried out. But he's also a God of love, which is something they don't believe in. They have 99 names for God, and love is not one of them.

Next page:Praying and crying for her former captors