Living in Iran for three years was an unforgettable experience for our family. We had just become Christians, and it was our first trip abroad. We looked to God for our salvation, but it wasn't until the kidnapping that we started learning to trust God for the outcome of our trials - good or bad.
Elzie was calling for me as loud as he could. His face was pale with fear as he ran across the yard to meet me at the gate of our enclosed yard.
"What's wrong?" I questioned, as sudden fear gripped me.
"Ray and Dwain left the yard after you told them not to. Ray just came home and said that some Iranian men kidnapped Dwain!"
"Oh, dear God, no." I whispered, as my knees turned to jelly.
I had left our oldest son, Ray, in charge while I went to the local Kouche store for milk and eggs. Like our Iranian neighbors, we had been without these precious items for several days. When one of my neighbors informed me that a large delivery of milk and eggs had been made, I decided to go buy all I could carry. I was afraid that if I waited until morning, the milk and eggs would be gone. As it was, I had to stand in line to buy them. I was gone nearly an hour, and it was almost dark when I returned home.
"Where's Ray?" I questioned Elzie as fear threatened to take control of my mind.
"He's in the house," Elzie answered.
"Go get Shuku and Akbar," I ordered, as I started for the house.
"Oh, why is Doran always gone when something bad happens?" I wailed, as I stepped inside the flat-roofed, Iranian-styled house that still seemed strange to me.
My husband, Doran, and I, along with our six children, had been living in Tehran, Iran, for about six months. We had moved to an area outside the city where there were few Americans, and even fewer English-speaking Iranains. We loved Iran, and rapidly made friends with our Iranian neighbors. We had heard horror stories of young boys being kidnapped, and some of the awful things that had happened to them. However, we thought the stories were the product of someone's imagination. Now, I had to face the very real possibility of such stories being true. Doran was working 600 miles away in a remote area with no telephone. I had to face this without him.
"Ray, tell me what happened," I ordered. I was frantic and had to force myself to pay attention to his low, quivering voice as he tried to explain.
"What's happened?" Shuku asked in broken English as soon as she entered the house. Her husband, Akbar, was with her.
"Oh, Shuku," I started explaining, trying to talk slow so she would understand me. "Ray and Dwain went exploring by themselves. They had climbed on top of a wall to look inside an old building. There were several village workers in the yard and when they saw the boys, they started chasing them. Ray escaped, but Dwain was taken. Why would the workers take him? What should I do?"
"Dorothy," Akbar spoke better English than Shuku. "You stay here. I'll take Ray and Elzie in my car to look for Dwain. Don't worry now, we'll find him." Akbar's voice was calm and soothing.
"All right," I agreed, knowing Akbar would be quick and thorough in his search.
"You stay here," Akbar spoke Farsi to Shuku.
"Bali," Shuku answered affirmatively as she saw them to the door.
"Dorothy," Shuku turned to me as she closed the door behind them. "You go pray to God. I'll fix some coffee, all right?"
"All right, Shuku," I hung my head in shame because I hadn't already thought to pray. "Call me when the coffee is ready."
Shuku nodded her head yes and gave me an encouraging smile.
"I watch the other children too - now you go upstairs."
With a tormented mind and a heart full of fear, I climbed the stairs to my bedroom. There, I sank beside the bed and began a desperate plea to God for my son.
"Please, God, help Dwain..." I faltered. I felt so hopeless that I could pray no more. I hung my head and sobbed helplessly. "Oh, my God!" I cried in anguish. "What can I say that will assure my son's life will be saved? How can I pray effectively?"
Then I remembered reading in the Bible that sometimes when we can't find the words to pray. God's Holy Spirit will intercede for us. I hadn't understood that verse until that very moment. Slowly, something akin to peace came over me and I stopped crying. Perhaps it was shock, some have told me so, but I rather believe it was God giving His hurting child the strength to trust Him when all seemed futile. Like a person drowning, I reached out to God's Word as my life preserver. I opened my Bible to Psalm 46:1; "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Somehow, as I read those living words, I knew that even if I lost my son, I would have God's strength to help me through.
"Dorothy," Shuku called up the stairway. "The coffed is ready."
I went downstairs, still uncertain about Dwain, but I was sure of one thing - God's sufficient grace would hold me in perfect peace. But, more than that, I knew God was with Dwain no matter what happened to him. Not that God would preform a miracle to save my son, but rather, that God could be trusted for the outcome. I knew God would use whatever happened to Dwain for our good and His glory.
Just as we finished our first cup of coffee, Elzie burst into the house shouting.
"Mama! The police are holding Dwain! Akbar said for you to go with him to the police station."
"You go on, Dorothy. I'll stay here with the children." Shuku was smiling, but there were tears in her eyes.
"Thank you, Shuku," I hollered back at her as I ran out the door.
"Thank you, Lord!" I almost shouted the prayer as I climbed into Akbar's car.
When we arrived at the police station, Dwain was sitting in a chair near the door. His hand was already swollen from a door being slammed on it. The buttons were torn off his shirt, and his face bore clear evidence of abuse. As we entered the room,Dwain jumped up and ran to my side. I hugged him close, trying to comfort him.
The moment we stepped inside the room it became full of frantic hand waving; loud, unintelligible jabbering, and just a scene of general confusion. Finally, Akbar calmed everyone down. Then he opened his billfold and showed the police his ID card. The drastic change of attitude surprised me. Suddenly, there was quiet respect in their voices. They became humble and apologetic toward Dwain and I. Akbar told me to take Dwain to the car and wait there. Relieved, I gladly obeyed.
Later, Akbar told me the whole story.
"Dorothy," he spoke softly. "The workers thought your boys were spying on them. When they realized that Dwain was an American, they decided to take him to the police station and claim he had stolen money from them. I was able to talk them into dropping the charges. But, please tell the boys not to go exploring by themselves again."
"I'm so grateful you were there," I told him.
"Now, Dorothy," Akbar became serious. "Please don't judge Iran by this incident. When you go back to America, go with only the good memories. Tell others that we are your friends and we love America."
"Don't worry, Akbar, I will," I assured him. "And nothing will ever convince me otherwise."
It's been over twenty years since the kidnapping. Dwain still refers to it as the turing point in his life. The boys's disobedience created a near calamity, but God, in His mercy, used it for good. Thank you, Father...