No news on YWAM missionary kidnapped in Africa

Jerry Woodke (above) has committed the past 25 years of his life to a ministr

The Church

Four months ago, longtime YWAM missionary Jeffery Woodke, was kidnapped by armed terrorists in the West African nation of Niger.

Four months ago, longtime YWAM missionary Jeffery Woodke, was kidnapped by armed terrorists in the West African nation of Niger.

On October 14, kidnappers rode up to his home in Abalak on motorbikes, shot his bodyguard and housekeeper and took Woodke captive. Before they departed, Woodke was forced to strip down to his underwear.

The terrorist group who abducted him is thought to be the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an Al-Qaida linked group.

Jeff Woodke’s home church is Arcata First Baptist Church (AFBC), which stands next to Humboldt State University in northern California, where Woodke gave his life to Christ as a student.

“Jeff’s passion in providing humanitarian aid to those who are amongst the poorest in the world, coupled with his desire to see God’s Kingdom advanced in a largely Muslim world has played a large part in the life and ministry of AFBC,” the church stated on their website.

Woodke was partnering with an organization called JEMED at the time of his kidnapping. JEMED works with Taureg and Wodaabe herders to provide “fixation points” where they have access to clean water, health care, education, and food security while preserving their nomadic lifestyles.

For 25 years, Woodke, 56, ministered in Niger. He continued his Kingdom-building activities despite U.S. State Department danger warnings.

On the State Department website they note that Al-Qaida groups have “kidnapped Europeans in the region and continues to threaten to kidnap Westerners, including U.S. citizens, in Niger. Exercise extreme caution in Niger due to the seriousness of this kidnapping threat. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.”

It is believed Woodke’s kidnappers may have headed across the border. “These criminals are now heading toward Mali. Our forces are on their trail,” Niger’s Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told Reuters.

In his incarnation of Christ, Woodke adopted the local culture as his own. He wore a turban, learned the language and was respected by Abalak residents. After the kidnapping, the town’s mayor professed his grief and the sorrow of the community. It was “such a devastating shock the whole city cried,” he said.

Woodke’s family has communicating with U.S. officials and a foreign hostage negotiator. Although a few ransom demands were made — one asking for $10 million and prisoner release —authorities said the demands were phony.

Woodke’s brother, a resident of San Diego, worries about whether his brother is receiving adequate food and medicine. “Is he getting tortured?” “Is he still alive?” he asked.

At the time of the kidnapping, Woodke’s wife, who worked with him as a missionary, was at the couple’s northern California home in McKinleyville, where they live part-time. He had just returned to Niger and she was planning to rejoin him. After his arrival, however, he warned her that it seemed too dangerous for her return.

Family members have requested prayers for Woodke’s safe return.