No Longer Captive: Claudia’s Story

(Trigger Warning: Violence)

I used to live a simple life in Colombia. The youngest of 9, I had always loved to sing. Even though I was raised in a Catholic home, I would go to protestant churches without my parent’s knowledge. I loved the music. The praise and worship moved me. In my heart, I had prayed, Lord, I would love to sing for you one day. One day, when my parents allow me.”

When I met and fell in love with my husband, my lifestyle drastically changed. At the time, he was the head of a mining company, and we lived lavishly: luxurious clothes, high-end cars, and desirable status. We moved and travelled to many beautiful countries for my husband’s work, including the Bahamas, Aruba, and Jamaica. But this lifestyle had its dangers.

When I was in Venezuela, I was kidnapped and held captive by one of our most trusted personnel: my bodyguard.

I remember that day vividly. My husband and I were on the way out of the bank, and suddenly, we heard gunshots—directed at us. My mind began to spin; I was filled with panic and confusion. They were targeting us. My bodyguard pulled my husband and me into the car and assured us that he would take us to a secure place. We were in the car for hours. That “secure place” was an open road in a rundown house in the middle of nowhere.

It was all a setup.

The next thing I knew, my bodyguard demanded all that we had. My husband responded to his threats, explaining that our money was not in Venezuela, but in Canada. If he wanted the money, my husband would have to fly out and deposit it from an account there. My bodyguard pondered this and replied: “Okay you can go, but Claudia will stay in this house.”

It was then my nightmare began. My husband left for Canada and I was confined to a room in this strange house: all exits were blocked—I knew, because I desperately tried to escape.

I earnestly cried out to God, “Where are you?!” I was angry with Him. I was doubting Him: His love, His everything. I cried out to God, “I didn’t do anything wrong; I go to church every Sunday! Tell me what I did that was so wrong to deserve this!” I wrestled and fought with God.

Days passed, and one of the women that tended the house entered my room and threatened me with a long knife, “We need the money, or you’re not going to survive.”

“What have I ever done to you?” I pleaded. She proceeded to press the knife blade against my throat. Panicked for my life, I assured her that the money was on its way, and she stormed out of the room.

They persistently taunted me with threats; they even called and threatened my family in Colombia. They had put poison in a cup of tea and forced it down my throat. I passed out often and I remember there was a day I woke up bleeding uncontrollably.

After what felt like forever, my husband finally called and notified us that he had deposited the money, but in my account. This, now looking back, I know this was God’s favour and wisdom given to my husband. He made a way so I could get out of that house, a way that made sure they needed me alive.

They escorted me out of that house and we took the money out of my account. After receiving the money, they took me to a run-down building and placed a beverage in front of me and demanded that I drink. This time there was no knife; the man had a gun on him. I passed out.

I woke up in yet another unfamiliar room. This time, however, I had my passport and cell phone in a little bag. I ran out of that place. I sat down on a street curb and called my assistant. Right after I described my location, I collapsed on the side of the road. Three days later, I found myself at my assistant’s house. By God’s grace, she had found me just in time.

We immediately started preparing for my flight out of the country. Strangely, in midst of my fear and anxiety during the process, I remember having this quiet confidence that God would bring me through—that He kept me alive for a reason. And He did. Miraculously, I was able to safely fly out and be reunited with my husband.

Jesus turned my world upside down

Bad things don’t happen to us because God wants to torture us. God puts us in situations for us to fully trust Him and ask Him for help. Now, I understand that He was always with me. He is always next to me. When I received Jesus, He turned my world upside down. Looking back, I am in awe of how He has kept me. He is still keeping me, even through my husband’s passing.

My husband passed away 2 years ago from cancer. Even in midst of the sadness, I continue to see God’s goodness all over. God allowed my daughters and me to be with him in the hospital during COVID, in spite of the regulations. Then one night, my daughters came to say their greetings and goodbyes, and the next day, he passed away peacefully.

I can now say with confidence that loss reinforced my faith. Because of Jesus, I am at peace. My husband received Jesus and even on his hospital bed, he was praying for our girls. Our God is the God of restoration. My story is a testament to that.

For years, I was certain that I would never sing on stage again; even though I have long loved to sing—singing made me feel empty. So when Pastor Dave Klob asked me to sing on the worship team 6 months ago, I was hesitant and joked, “I’m not even a good singer!” But I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to serve with FAC Music. Now that I sing for Jesus, I feel joy. Real joy. I know God sees every tear that falls, and I know He will wipe every tear. He loves everyone. We just have to be ready, willing, and open with God. We just have to be real with Him. 

I am not just physically free, I am no longer a captive to sin, grief, old lifestyles, habits, and ways of thinking. Sin, shame, and pain no longer have any hold over me: Christ has set me free. It is such a gift to be part of the FAC en Español congregation. This new congregation is another step in faith for me, and I will continue to serve.

Now when I worship, I don’t feel like I’m on a stage, but like a daughter, singing to her Father.

– Claudia is part of our worship team and the FAC en Español congregation. We’re grateful to her for bravely sharing her story of how God has moved powerfully in her life.

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