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On June 12, nine Christian foreigners were abducted and three of them killed in Yemen. Reports indicate that they were targeted because they were Christian relief workers suspected of being involved in evangelistic work.

The Christians were reportedly abducted by armed men while returning from a picnic in the city of Sa'ada. At approximately 6:45 p.m., one of the women -- a German national -- managed to call a nurse in Sa'ada on her cell phone. However, the nurse could not hear who was calling and hung up. Investigators believe that the kidnappers executed three of the hostages a short time later. The bodies of German nurses in training, Rita Stumpp (26) and Anita Gruenwald (24), and a South Korean woman, Eom Young-sun (33), were found four days later in the Noshour Valley region -- a known hotbed of al-Qaeda activity. According to a member of the security committee in charge of the investigation, the six hostages -- Johannes Hentschel (36), a German doctor, his wife Sabine (36), and their three children, Lydia (4), Anna (3) and Simon (11 months), and an unidentified British engineer -- are alive. At last report they had been handed over to tribesmen. Two suspects have surrendered themselves to Yemeni authorities and have been arrested.

The six abducted relief workers all worked for the Dutch-based World Wide Services Foundation, an aid organization that places medical personnel in hospitals in developing countries. Local imams were reportedly concerned that some of the relief workers were involved in evangelism while providing medical aid. The German Foreign Ministry's task force has deduced that the Germans were known locally as missionaries. Johannes Hentschel was threatened in recent months by angry Muslims who objected to his efforts to share Christ with Muslims. Missionary tracts were found in the belongings of the martyred German nurses.

Thank the Lord for the faithful life and work of those killed. Pray that the remaining hostages will be released. Ask God to fill those in mourning with a peace that surpasses understanding in the midst of their grief (Philippians 4:7). Pray for endurance and wisdom for those serving the Lord in Yemen.

Check out the VOMC weblog for commentary and additional details on this story. For more information on the persecution of Christians in Yemen, go to the Yemen Country Report.

Country Information

30,399,243 (July 2021 est.)

predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans

Religion (%)
Muslim 99.1%, other 0.9%

President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi (2012)

Government type
In transition

Legal system
Mixed legal system of Islamic law, Napoleonic law, English common law, and customary law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Yemen

Pray that the small body of believers will find deep and sustaining joy in their faithfulness.

Pray that the gospel will penetrate the hearts of many Yemeni people.


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