This past week we had the opportunity to hear a harrowing story of a missionary couple who had been kidnapped in Peru in 1985. Sadly this is a near identical story to another firsthand account of the kidnapping of an American family in Peru in 2017. What should we learn from this?
In both stories, the families were wearing nice jewelry and dressed nicely when they decided to catch a taxi home from their travels in the city. In both accounts, the families felt that something was wrong and that unnecessary detours were being taken. The families were then taken to a remote location, ripped out of the taxi, summarily beaten, and shoved in a van. The men were beaten, bones broken, and efforts made to ensure they would not fight back.
While in the van, the families had all of their bank cards taken with pin numbers along with their jewelry. The kidnappers then determined if there was any possibility of drumming up a ransom for their American captives. It did not take long for the kidnappers to determine that both families did not have the means to come up with enough money to make a longer term kidnapping worthwhile.
As we talked to both families, we learned that their long-term mental health needs were not met by either their insurance company or the mission organization that sent them. Sadly, we also learned that a missionary organization told one of the couples not to talk about their experience and further accused the missionary couple of doing something wrong to short circuit their heavenly protection. The last statement makes me cringe. As Christians, our duty to care for each other is never negated.
Perhaps the key take-away from these stories is that both kidnappings could have been prevented had the families had a basic level of anti-kidnapping and hostage survival training. In both kidnappings, those involved felt and recognized danger and could have taken measures to prevent the kidnappings from happening in the first place. In both situations, the families continued to make poor personal security choices before, during, and after the events. The missionary couple told us the same thing that many missionaries tell us today. Missionaries themselves do not receive suitable anti-kidnapping and situational awareness training for their service before traveling overseas. The other family also opined that they did not even consider taking any security awareness or anti-kidnapping training before traveling. Two nearly identical kidnappings over 32 years and we continue to support the kidnapper’s business model. Perhaps someday, we will adapt and make it harder for the intrepid kidnappers to make money off of us. If you are interested in becoming a harder target look for announcements about our next Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival courses.