Remember the lay pastor of the Anglican Church in Baghdad who disappeared and has now been reported as held for ransom. The Living Church article on this terrible situation was posted yesterday. It is based on an email from Fr. Andrew White, the vicar of St. George's Church, Baghdad, dated April 25,2007. The article states that "The kidnappers have threatened to kill him if the church does not pay them $40,000 within 24 hours." More time than that has now passed and we can only wait for a next report.
The report does not give the name of the persons kidnapped. The website for Fr. White's work, referenced in the article does not mention the email, letter, plea for funds, or anything about the situation.
Such situations are delicate as well as horrible, so there can be all sorts of reasons for limiting information. But we know, from kidnappings in Iraq, in other areas of the Middle East, in Haiti, in Mexico, in the Philippines, and in many other parts of the world, that the phenomena of kidnapping and holding for ransom is widely used as a means of financial gain for all sorts of groups and individuals, from revolutionary movements to policies of state terrorism to plain thugs. It is a short term trafficing in human beings, part of the wider disrespect of human life represented in slavery, imprisonment without warrant or trial, forced labor, and other human rights violtations available from all sorts of agents - from world powers to local gangsters.
With the news we have all we can do is offer prayer support. So we pray for this person held captive and for ransom, and for all those who are held captive and whose bodies become barganing chips in the economic gain of others, for those who are imprisoned without sufficent cause, for those who are tested to the limits of endurance and beyond, and for those who die at the hands of their captors.
May God, who liberates us all from death, free those held captive, that when death comes to them,as it will to us all, they are surrounded by friends and love, and not strangers who commerce in their bodies. May they know the presence of the Divine in every moment of their captivity and their freedom, both.