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Jeff Woodke
Photo: Jeff Woodke / Facebook via
World Watch Monitor

Jeff Woodke, who works for Jeunesse en Mission Entraide et Developpement, a branch of the U.S.-based organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM), was abducted from the town of Abalak in northern Niger by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th.

Bilou Mohamed, the mayor of Abalak, announced that the community has "suffered a terrible tragedy" and that locals "wept with sorrow, lamenting the loss of a friend" the day after his abduction. He then spoke of the 55-year-old missionary's dedicated service: "This man has lived among us for years, even when it has been difficult to accompany vulnerable populations.... Everyone knows his goodness."

According to Niger's interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, a group of armed men -- believed to be from a radical Islamic group called Mujao -- burst into Jeff's home at around 9 p.m. After killing two security guards, including a member of the National Guard who was stationed there, the kidnappers took Jeff by force and drove towards eastern Mali, where Mujao has a stronghold.

Known in Abalak for his devotion to Niger and its nomadic populations, Jeff runs several development projects among the Tuareg people, focussing on farming, health, literacy, primary school education and access to drinking water.

Please uphold Jeff in prayer as he faces this time of uncertainty in captivity. May he experience the assuring presence of our Lord, whom we pray will surround him with an angelic wall of protection. Also lift up the missionary's concerned family, friends, colleagues and community members, asking that they be comforted and granted the "peace that surpasses all understanding" while his whereabouts are sought and his safe release pursued.

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