Pastor Escapes ISIS-Inspired Kidnapping

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By Gary Lane
MINDANAO, Philippines — Kidnappings, beheadings and rape.These acts carried out by the Islamic State are inspiring evil beyond the Middle East, most recently in Africa. Now their influence is threatening Christians in Southeast Asia.
After Islamic State fighters routed the Iraqi army last summer, the world realized the growing threat of ISIS. It’s terror spread from Syria and Iraq, to Libya and other parts of Africa where Nigeria’s Boko Haram recently pledged its allegiance.

Add to this reports of operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and now the ISIS influence is reaching as far away as the Philippines.

Islamic extremists want to control Mindanao, Philippines. Even though ISIS has yet to accept them into their organization, the MILF and the Islamic State have shared ideology, which includes destroying churches, kidnapping, and killing Christians.

Kidnapped Pastor

Just ask missionary Pastor Danial. He asked that we hide his face to protect him from further persecution. Last fall, Danial and two other family members were kidnapped by a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF.

In an exclusive interview, Danial detailed his kidnapping for CBN News.

“When the two men captured me, I had a towel around my neck,” he said. “One of the Muslim soldiers grabbed the towel and told me, ‘We will use this to wipe the blood from your neck.'”

They took Danial to their camp where he met a notorious Islamic terrorist known as Commander Tokboy. Tokboy said he would behead the evangelist for leading tribal people to Christ.

“I told him I was only helping the tribes. There is nothing wrong with preaching the gospel while serving them,” he recalled. “He said, ‘anyone who brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ and upholds the God of Israel is our enemy,'”

“I noticed his soldiers digging a hole in front of me. I heard one ask, ‘Do you think he will fit in this?'” he continued. “So, I knew the grave was for me. This was it, this was my time for death.”

And Pastor Danial said Commander Tokboy revealed his true identity.

“Tokboy asked ‘Do you know me? I am the leader of ISIS in the Mindanao islands. The Philippine government has been hunting me for a long time,'” Danial told CBN News. “Then he showed me the ISIS flag hanging in the camp. I also saw documents that had an ISIS flag on the letterhead.”

Trusting God for a Miracle

Danial’s family and friends prayed as the ordeal continued. His 10-year-old daughter, Carol, was among them. She told CBN News she trusted God to deliver her father from death.

“We prayed John 15:7 for Papa. ‘If you remain in me and my words in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you,'” she said.

The next morning, Commander Tokboy received an urgent phone call.

“Tokboy handed me the cell phone and a big voice on the other end asked, ‘Are you pastor Daniel?'” Danial told CBN News. “I said yes. He said, ‘Do you know today is the date of your death?’ I replied, yes if Jesus Christ wills it, today is my day. Then he said, ‘You are lucky. We are sparing your life. You are not going to die today.'”

Home with a Warning

Danial returned home with a warning: stop evangelizing tribal people. He now lives in another part of Mindanao.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Charles Jose told CBN News the kidnapping does not mean that ISIS is gaining a foothold in southern Philippines.

“We are not actually convinced that they are really IS,” he said. “Maybe they are just jumping on the bandwagon. Most of them are engaged in banditry, kidnap for ransom activities.”

However, the Philippine government is investigating reports that potential ISIS recruits have received training in a remote village not far from Zamboanga City.

Despite his near death experience and the possibility that he could be kidnapped again, Danial continues to share the gospel with the tribal people of Mindanao.

Greater Faith

“The incident taught me not to fear death. I saw the power of God. Jesus delivered me out of death and it has made me bolder to serve God because I saw his power.”

And his daughter Carol knows why she has her papa back.

“We did not know where to find Papa, but God knew where to find him,” she said. “The Lord brought him out of the camp. The Lord answered our prayers. God is so good to our family!”