"I Realized That My Heart Was Not In Chains"

Feb 23, 2021

When Italian missionary Pier Luigi Maccalli was released late last year - after being kidnapped two years before in Niger and held by Islamist extremists - he shared some very challenging but encouraging words about his experience...
I trust you will benefit from them as I have.
In a recent interview between the priest and La Croix (an international Catholic news source), he said:
The first hours, the first days, I was really discouraged.

I was lost; I didn't know what was happening to me; I didn't understand...

I thought I would be freed quickly. However, as the days went by, I realized that it was something else.
On the 40th day after my kidnapping, they made a video of me as proof of life.
At that point I realized that this was going to last and I had to make the decision to hold on...
I [would look] at the sand dunes that surrounded me and I thought of the biblical desert.
I said, "Lord, you spent 40 days in the desert, but here it will be much longer. Israel remained in the desert for 40 years, but I will not live until then. I offer you this time in the desert as a time for me to rediscover my vocation."
In the Bible, to go to the desert is always to find the motivation of the beginning.
So it was a time to renew my covenant.
When they took me away, my captors tied my feet with a chain.
For a missionary, being in chains was quite a symbol.
I was a prisoner, unable to go to the villages where I usually went.
But these chains freed my prayer: at that moment, I realized that my heart was not in chains...
To those who suffer from isolation, especially during lockdown, I would say that we must hold on, continue to resist in order to exist...
What wise and heartfelt thoughts from a devoted Christian abducted because of his faith!
I am grateful Father Maccalli is now safe with his family.
Yet the reality is: There are many more like him - individuals being held against their will...Christians denied freedom...believers targeted daily...brothers and sisters under attack...missionaries becoming martyrs.
You can give hope to the persecuted Church through Liberty Relief International - in northern Africa, throughout the Middle East and in Asia and beyond.
They need your voice. They need your prayers. They need your generous support.
Any donation you make will help us minister to the needs of Christians - your generosity will go a long way to provide not only emergency aid like safe shelter, food and water...
But also spiritual support like counseling, job skills and literacy training, Bibles and discipleship materials and so much more.
Thank you. Your kindness is deeply appreciated. And please keep praying for our brothers and sisters!
Mat Staver