“I was so shaken, and began to ask myself, is this happening to me? What am I doing in this forest? What am I doing here? I felt extremely cold and in my confusion … I'd mutter to myself, this can't be happening, God. This can't be happening,” he said.
The captors started questioning Fr. Sam and the other man, and were suspicious when Fr. Sam identified himself as a priest; they thought he might be a government spy. They stripped him of all his belongings – his watch, wallet, and rosary.
When they questioned Fr. Sam about his phone, the captors were enraged that he had left it in his car – which was fortunate, the priest said, because he had saved financial information from his work on it.
The militants asked him if he could remember anyone’s number – someone to call who could negotiate for Fr. Sam’s life and pay off the herdsmen. Traumatized by his experience, Fr. Sam couldn’t remember one phone number.
“That triggered a series of beatings...they huddled me up, hands and feet tied to the back with a rope like a goat before a kill. They removed my cassock, then my shirt, threw me into the dirt on the ground, and began to beat me with the back of their guns, they'd kick me hard on my sides, slap across my face, push and pull me hard across the ground...one of them said ‘We are going to burn you alive!’” the priest recalled.
“I really believed that they were going to do it...I began to pray in silence...I said, ‘God, I commit to you, I commit my spirit' and I resigned to the thought of my fate, that I was going to die that day.’”
Finally, the beating stopped. Fr. Sam said he remembers praying constantly through the whole experience.
“I hoped for a miracle...every minute I'd pray saying all kinds of prayers, I'd pray to Saint Ignatius, say the rosary and the Divine Mercy (chaplet)...at one time I found myself singing heartily but in the inside, a Ghanaian song that says 'God speak to me...God where are you?’ I kept humming in my heart...it gave me hope,” he said.
Eventually Fr. Sam was able to get the phone number of another Jesuit priest through the contact of the other man in captivity. This priest, Jesuit provincial Fr. Jude Odiaka, began negotiations with the herdsmen.
And while at times he prayed for death, Fr. Sam said he felt better once he had made contact with the Jesuits.
“I knew that word must have gotten around about the kidnapping, and that the sisters at the retreat centre and people who knew me all over, must have been praying for me.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The other man who had been captured with Fr. Sam also was a great comfort, he recalled.
“...the guy I was kidnapped with...he was a grace for me, a gift from God. I hope I was too for him because we exchanged words of encouragement silently, as we were not allowed to talk to each (other).”
Finally, the captors seemed to have gotten what they wanted, and started talking of letting the men go.
“I intensified my prayers and I prayed to God ‘Please God, make this end well,’” Fr. Sam said.
“I recalled a saying that ‘God will not bring you this far, then abandon you’, so this brought some assurance to my heart,”
When the militants decided to release the men, they were left to wander alone together through the forest, trying to find the pathway out. Eventually, they were able to make it to safety and back home.