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God at the Controls Part Five: Release

Back in the Puinave village, Tim, Bunny, and Steve were prisoners in Tim and Bunny's house. One day Tim saw Alberto, the village captain, outside, and asked the guerrilla guarding them if he could talk to him.
"Sure," the guard said.

Alberto was anxious to talk with Tim.

He told Tim that the old ways and God's ways had been at war in his heart. Some Puinaves of Colombia had always killed those who hurt them. Now guerrilla soldiers had come into the village and taken captive the Puinaves' friends, missionaries Tim and Bunny Cain, and Steve Estelle. The villagers tried to convince Alberto that the guerrillas should be killed.

But Alberto remembered the teachings of Jesus: "Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. So Alberto couldn't sleep. All night long there was this struggle in his heart. Shall we kill the guerrillas? Or should we love them? God's words seemed strange to Alberto. But God tells the truth, and Alberto decided to listen to God.

In the morning, he told his people, "God does not want us to kill the guerrillas."

That same morning another Puinave captain from downriver came to the village. He also wanted to kill the guerrillas, but Alberto said, "No! Last night God told me to leave it in His hands."

Alberto realized that if that chief had come one day earlier, Alberto and his people might have done the wrong thing!

As Alberto shared about the struggle he'd had, Tim encouraged him and the other Puinaves that doing good to the guerrillas was the right way. He showed them a verse in Romans: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him ...."

Imagine the surprise of the guerrillas when a Puinave family brought them a big bowl of cooked food. Another Puinave gave them some ripe bananas, and another gave them a chicken. The guerrillas couldn't figure out what was going on.

They also couldn't figure out why the Puinaves were not listening to them. The guerrillas held meetings every night to try to win the villagers over. Every night they told the Puinaves how bad the missionaries were. But every night the villagers responded that the missionaries were not bad. And later each night all the Puinave Christians would get together and pray that God would set Tim, Bunny, and Steve free.

After several days, three more guerrillas came to the Puinave village. Their leader came into the hut and ordered the missionaries: "Pack a suitcase! We're going downriver."

By now, Steve, Tim, and Bunny could see that as long as they were near the Puinaves, the guerrillas would treat them well because of the villagers. But leaving the village ... well, it might mean that the guerrillas were planning to hurt them.

As the missionaries prayed, the Puinave captain, Alberto, went boldly to the new guerrilla leader. "I invited the missionaries here," he declared. "They're my responsibility. If they're going to leave, I'm the one that should send them."

The guerrillas decided not to take the missionaries anywhere that day.

The next morning, Tim, Bunny, and Steve woke up in fear that this was the day they would be harmed. "You know," Tim said," we're just not completely trusting God."

Bunny and Steve agreed. It was hard not to be scared. Together they prayed, giving themselves to God for whatever might happen. And God's peace filled their hearts , and they felt ready for anything.

Just then the guerrilla leader came in and said, "Get your stuff ready! We're going this time!"

News that the missionaries were being taken away spread quickly through the village. All of the Puinaves gathered at the riverbank to see them off, not knowing if they would ever see them again. Some cried as Tim, Bunny, and Steve were commanded to get into a large canoe. The missionaries were taken to a hidden spot in the jungle, and held prisoner.

Whatever might be going on concerning them in other parts of Colombia, their life in the jungle continued one day after another.

After nine days Tim was feeling really low. "God," he prayed quietly, "I'm a father, and I know there are times when my girls need me to pay special attention to them. Well, that's how I feel right now. I need You to let me know You love me."

Steve asked, "What are you thinking, Tim?"

Tim told Steve about his prayer.

The next morning, Sunday morning, Steve exclaimed, "Tim, here's your answer! Look at the choir of birds!"

On the branches of trees all around them sat big birds and little birds, singing and chirping. The little birds usually flew away from the big birds, but not this morning. The missionaries counted 26 different kinds of birds: parrots, toucans, and even a big old turkey buzzard. The bird choir sang for three hours. Tim, Bunny, and Steve sang too, praising God. At noon all the birds left.

They watched for the bird gathering the next day, but it didn't happen. Nor did it happen the next day, or the next ... until the following Sunday. This time there were even more birds, chirping, singing, and croaking. Again they stayed until noon. When the missionaries pointed out the birds to the guerrillas, they couldn't care less. But Tim, Bunny, and Steve were thrilled that their Heavenly Father had sent the birds to show them He loved them and cared.

One day the guerrillas took the three missionaries back to the Puinave village, so the villagers could see that they were all right. Tim was glad to hear that the Christians were meeting together regularly, teaching others, and praying always that God would release the prisoners.

"You will be set free," Alberto said, "because we have prayed!"

Chico's son said the Puinaves felt bad when the three were taken away. "It was like one of our children had died. We didn't feel like eating. We would walk by your empty house and feel so sad!"

On the way back to the jungle camp,the commander was very quiet. This was the first time he had actually seen the Puinaves and the missionaries together. The next morning he had to ask them the question that had been burning in his mind all night: "What makes the Puinaves love you so much?"

Tim didn't give an easy answer. He just said, "Ask them."

After another week, the missionaries were told a plane was coming for them, they were taken back to the village. They waited six days, but no plane arrived, so the guerrillas took them back into the jungle again.

The next morning they heard a plane flying overhead. Then what a mad scramble! They were rushed to the village airstrip.

As they neared the airstrip, the guerrillas blindfolded them so they couldn't see the plane or the pilot. They were not sure where they were being taken, or what would happen to them next.

That night they were held in a different camp. The next morning the commander went with them again, on a six-hour speedboat ride down the river. There they waited, and waited, even though they weren't sure what they were waiting for.

Finally, a boat came that was almost too big for the river. People from the government were on the boat, and the missionaries were being released! The commander said good-bye with a firm handshake. Tim was shocked to see that the commander looked as if he cared. Were those tears in his eyes? Had something touched his heart while they were held captive?

In Bogota, friends and family were waiting for the captives to be replaced. Finally, after 33 days of being held captive, Tim, Bunny, and Steve walked through the door.

Can you imagine the excitement? There was laughing, crying, talking, and hugging; but most of all, there was rejoicing and praising God for the work He had done.

POSTED ON Mar 05, 2015