April 14, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
in Rolling Prairie, Ind., are banding together to pray for an Indiana
father of four who was kidnapped in Iraq April 11.
Ake, 47, was kidnapped from a water-treatment plant in Taji, about 20
miles north of Baghdad. Reports from an unnamed security company said
Ake might have been in the country for only a week. He was shown on
videotape on the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, flanked by armed
gunmen, begging for his life.
was in Iraq to help Iraqis,” said the Rev. David Tripp, pastor of
Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church, which several of Ake’s
relatives attend. “He was in our congregation just a few weeks ago for
the baptism of his niece.”
family-owned company, Equipment Express, won a subcontract to filter
and bottle water in Baghdad, according to the company’s Web site.
prayers and the prayers of United Methodists in Indiana are with
Jeffrey Ake and his family today,” said Bishop Michael J. Coyner, who
leads the denomination’s Indiana Area. “His kidnapping brings the
horrors of war home to us. As people of faith, we plead with his
kidnappers to realize that Jeffrey Ake is a man of faith and not to harm
him. I also ask United Methodists everywhere to remember Jeffrey and
his family in their prayers during this trying time. May God grant us
all the peace we seek.”
said he was contacting U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, a United Methodist and
Republican from Indiana, to ask for help in getting Ake home safely.
White House officials have said there will be no negotiations with the
kidnappers and have advised the family not to speak to the media.
immediate family is being kept in isolation, Tripp said. “A colleague
of mine is feeding and protecting them from the pressure.”
said Ake often visited at Rolling Prairie, and his brother and
great-grandparents are active members of the congregation. “This whole
church family here feels a great responsibility for the whole family.”
Ake’s great-grandparents came to the church briefly April 13 and “are
deeply upset,” Tripp said.
Christian and Muslim faiths agree, “God requires people to be
merciful,” Tripp said. “I am wondering if we could arrange for
representatives of the churches to address the captors directly.”
said he doesn’t know how he would contact the captors, but he was very
clear he would not do anything without the government’s knowledge.
“There is something to be said for trying to address them on ethical
grounds. There is a blessing promised for those who show mercy.”
along with business and political leaders are organizing a prayer vigil
for April 15 at the city’s Soldiers Memorial Park. Tripp says several
clergy will attend to speak and form a choir. “Some of my fellow clergy
members were a little nervous about singing, but I told them, ‘We must
sing,’” he said.
churches are all working together, he said. “All the churches in this
neighborhood care for all our neighbors equally for Jesus sake.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.