Reverse Kidnapping

The smell of dust and diesel filled the air and obscured the colors of the sun as it gave its last burst of energy over the African horizon.  After driving for 7 hours, Chinese pastor Tai Chin and the team from our church in Denver grimly felt the darkness envelop their van’s shadow…They were lost and they knew it.  But they didn’t ever expect that a kidnapping would take place.    God will do anything to draw people to himself!

“Will you help us!?”  Tai Chin urged leaning her head out the van window.  

Her pleading voice was met by blank stares and fell on deaf ears…No English in these parts…

Block after block, and question after question- it was clear no local seemed to know where this van was to head!  

Like so many situations, confusion morphed into frustration and frustration mixed with flits of anger.  Disappointment and discouragement surged in everyone’s mind as to how this trip was turning out.  

Fighting her dreary eyes, Tai Chin went for one last try, “Will you help us!?”  

A young man walking by overheard Tai Chin’s conversation.  “I know the place!  You turn left after the hotel, then right, then left again until you see…”

Relieved Tai Chin urged, “We are beyond that now, will you get in the van and come with us!?”

“Sure!”  After climbing in the van and bumping along the anxious road he said, “Oh by the way, I speak Chinese.”

“What?  Really?  Here?” could be heard through the whole van.  In Chinese, Tai Chin proceeded to ask him if he had a relationship with Jesus (which he did not) and presented the whole Gospel message to this young Ethiopian man on the way to their destination!  That night salvation was born in this man’s heart and his journey of discipleship started that very night with fellow African believers in his hometown!

In this unique interaction of hospitality, God can work amazing miracles—even orchestrate reverse kidnappings!


Sometimes we may wonder “why” God allows for frustrating situations.  Sometimes we may wonder why all the struggle with logistic and lingual issues. 

What felt like a missed opportunity in missing one meeting meant the orchestration of this man having the most important meeting of his life!

He thought he learned Chinese to do business with Asians, and perhaps to get rich, but we know he learned Chinese for such a time as this—to receive the riches of our glorious faith (James 2:5).  

Everyday, under different circumstances a foreigner cries in desperation, “Will you help!?” -too often it lands on strained ears or gets lost in translation.  

In this unique interaction of hospitality, God can work amazing miracles—even orchestrate reverse kidnappings!

Imagine what God can do with the sparking of a nationwide movement of hospitality between the local and the glocal in Ethiopia.

Will you take part in God’s local-global community?