Okongo Samson: Abducted but Not Forsaken (Part 2)

John FarrellBy John Farrell14 Minutes

John Farrell: Later in your book, you describe how your captors tried to convert you to Muslim and make you deny your faith in God. And at one point your captain got you to agree that Muhammad was the only true prophet, but you knew in your heart that you were lying. Could please tell me a little bit about that and what came of that guilt of denying Christ and how it affected your faith?

Okongo Samson: As many readers who read my story know, there’s a chronological way in which I told the story. When I went back to Kenya, I was hopeless. When my news had spread all over the community, the village, and the surrounding area, everywhere I would go people would tease me.

I had the one hope that at least I did not die like some of the teens I saw there — the young people who died there. Despite what I had gone through at least God delivered me. He saved me from death. He saved me from there. The more I shared my story, the more it started giving many people hope. And then I started having hope that my broken story, my sharing, and trying to counter the negativity and the teasing and the bullying that was going on was giving some of the people hope.

That is what I held onto — why I kept sharing my story. That is collated beyond my community to the point where I met some other missionaries from other countries, and they decided to open opportunities for me to visit those countries to continue to tell my story of God’s deliverance. That’s what got me out of Kenya to travel to 92 countries as of today.

Along the way, I was going to countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, northern Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. In most of those places, I was put in prison when I was found sharing God’s story, because my story is ultimately God’s story. If it was not for Him, I would have not been rescued. That being said, it led me to those countries.

What you’re talking about — where I was when I denied Christ — that was in Saudi Arabia where I was put in prison and tortured. They drilled my legs and hung me upside down and asked me if I would denounce and reject Christ. I easily did it because I was in deep pain. So, I lied to them.

That is how I denied Christ. It was because of the pain and what I was going through. But God graciously understood me in my rejecting Him when it really did matter.

Pushing Through the Pain … and Keeping the Faith

JF: You continued to share the gospel, and you’ve been imprisoned in 15 different countries because of your act of sharing the gospel, which is a remarkable testament to your faith and how strong that faith has remained throughout all your experiences. What pushed you forward? What is it about your faith that made you press forward to share your faith regardless of the consequences?

Okongo: You’ve talked about the consequences. As I continued to do this, I was clearly wounded. I was hurting. Even when I was sharing my story, I was sharing my story not healthy — emotionally, mentally, and even sometimes physically and spiritually. I was questioning God even as I was doing this.

When I was in a state where I was, I knew that when God calls us to do something and we don’t do what He’s called us to do, the consequence is the consequence of being disobedient. I did not want to be disobedient to God’s voice and the call and vision He had for me. That was something that terrified me. I was afraid of that, but at the same time, I was traveling at age 16 and continued to go.

I was suffering because I had been put in prison now 14 times, it was 15 if you included northern Uganda, but the rebels didn’t have a structural prison. They were just training us as terrorists. But in the other countries, I was actually put in prison.

I didn’t necessarily have bigger faith than anyone else. I was just doing the act of obedience to what God had called me to do, even if I did not know what I was doing. I hung onto the vision where He said, “I will be with you to the very end. I will be with you, so I just hope that you’ll be with me.” I did this as an act of obedience to His voice, His call, and His vision, but I didn’t really have faith enough.

I just said, “I’m available. Use me as You wish.” As I continued doing that, with the suffering, with the torture and prison, I kept being angry, but I kept being obedient to the vision. That is basically what pushed me forward. Then I came to realize that no matter what I do, I’m going to die anyway. I would rather die doing something.

The message He gave me when I escaped in northern Uganda, which I saw Him honor that. When I walked that night, He actually delivered me. He made the angel make those military rebel soldiers who were guarding the entrance sleep. So, I hung onto the hope and little faith that if He did it that time, He will probably do it again.

Then when I went to the next prison, and He got me out of it miraculously — the way I described in the book. I can trust in Him that when I get into a situation I don’t like, He will get me out. Any wicked thing or anything that was meant for evil by the evil people, God can use that to His glory.

When I came back from northern Uganda and shared my story, I started giving other people hope that restored their joy. Even my ugly story … sharing the deliverance of what God did was bringing hope to others. I can continue to do that. That’s what basically kept me going. Just an act of obedience to what God had said.

Overcoming Anger and Finding Healing

JF: How did you overcome this anger, and where did your experience in learning to overcome your anger lead you?

Okongo: While I was dealing with anger, bitterness, rage, confusion, and mental disturbance, I kept digging into God’s Word to find a solution — help from every angle that I could. I read so many scriptures. I pointed them out in my book, Abducted But Not Forsaken. I read some and they did not make sense to me, but some gave me hope. I kept pushing and seeking answers, seeking help, and seeking refuge in God because of the pain that many people didn’t even know about when I’m walking. I trusted that only God can do that.

When I was angry at him, I was angry because I knew from reading the scripture that God is in control. So, when He is in control, why does He allow these wicked things to happen to people. Good or bad people; I didn’t really care so much. But why, if He’s in control, why doesn’t He stop it? He has the power. Then I came to realize that in reading the scripture that He had allowed so many of those situations, like mine, the apostles, the disciples, and some prophets in the Old Testament; they had gone through all these things so that my experiences are not new. There are some people before me who had gone through that and God used them. And so, the principle of how God used them is when I started to trust God.

I didn’t trust Him at first, but I was trying to be obedient because I feared the consequences if I was disobedient to what He said. I was also afraid of people, but I knew how He delivered me from the hands of the bad people. I knew I could trust Him a little bit and that He would do the same thing. That is what kept me going.

The whole thing turned around when I came to realize that I needed healing. When I was physically wounded and healed naturally with help, I came to realize that I had emotional wounds. I did not trust men because I thought every time men came they would put me in prison. I did not trust the church. I thought I would be judged. I did not trust sharing my story, but I could share because I couldn’t care less.

I was emotionally unhealthy, mentally unhealthy, and even spiritually questioning a lot, but just being obedient. That is when I realized forgiving the people who hurt me would be the medicine that would heal my emotional pain, mental pain, and even spiritual pain where I was doubting God and angry at God.

I had to ask Him for forgiveness because I realized what He had done for me. Even by not allowing me to die, rescuing me at the hands of bad people was more than enough to not be angry at Him. Then to see my story being used to bring hope to people who are also wounded and hurting. Those are the things that kept me going until I discovered the power to take action, to go and forgive.

First of all, forgive them and then go and meet with them, which was another whole thing. That was God telling me to go meet others. I became more angry when I heard His voice: “I need you to go meet with some of them.” I wasn’t really sure about that, but I had to be obedient because He spoke. It’s an act of obedience to what God was calling me to do.

Order your copy of Abducted but Not Forsaken: How One Man’s Escape from a Notorious Terrorist Brought Hope to Africa by Okongo Samson