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Freed Hostage says 'Jesus Kept His Word'

By Christian de Lisle
August 4th, 2008
The Catholic Herald (UK) (www.catholicherald.co.uk/)

On June 27 Mrs Bentancourt's rescuers arrived and the ordeal was over. "I thought 'there we go, he's on time'... the fact of the matter is that Jesus kept his word. I experienced a miracle."

LONDON (Catholic Herald) - After six years in captivity Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian hostage, was rescued by Colombian special forces. Her first action was to arrange to go to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris. In an interview earlier this month she spoke to Pèlerin magazine about her faith and how it saw her through her ordeal.

Mrs Betancourt's first gesture on being rescued was the sign of the cross. "Why? Because without Him at my side I would never have managed to survive the pain," she said.

She went on to say that "being a hostage places you in a situation of constant humiliation ... Faced with this you can take one of two possible paths. Either you allow yourself to become ugly and bitter, filled with hate and vindictiveness, or you follow the other path, that is shown by Jesus." She said this insight was what preserved her from being consumed by hate for her captors and anger at her predicament.

"He [Jesus] said 'bless your enemies'. Each time I read the Bible I felt those words were directed at me as though Jesus were standing in front of me, He knew what to say to me," she said. "Of course I realised that when your enemy is awful it is hard to live out those words faithfully and therefore I felt like saying the exact opposite. When I said these words, however, it was like magic. I felt a kind of relief. The hatred simply vanished... I feel that a transformation took place within me and I owe that change to being able to listen to what God wanted for me. It was a constant dialogue with the gospels."

Mrs Bentancourt said that the Bible had been her constant companion. "At the start of my captivity I said to myself 'you are going to be here for months and months so you might as well read the Bible' which I had not done previously. Opening it, it fell open on the epistles of St Paul on the passage which I can recite more or less from memory: 'You may ask for what you will but the Holy Spirit will ask better as He knows what you truly need.'

"When I read that I exclaimed: 'My God, I know what I want, to be free!' Re-reading the epistle six years later I understood at last what it meant and thought 'lucky the Holy Spirit has interceded for me, because I do not know what I need!' "

She said that after being angry with God for allowing the death of her father, Gabriel Betancourt Mejia, "later I understood that I had to thank God for taking him, because my father would never have been able to endure those six years of suffering".

Finally Mrs Bentancourt said why she had been so keen to visit the shrine of the Sacred Heart. "I was listening to Radio Maria [the international Catholic radio station] and I discovered that June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart... so I said this prayer: 'My Jesus, I have never asked anything of you, because I am so ashamed of your greatness, I am simply too ashamed to ask but now I am going to ask you for something very specific. I do not know exactly what it means to consecrate oneself to the Sacred Heart but if you tell me, during the month of June, I will be all yours."

On June 27 Mrs Bentancourt's rescuers arrived and the ordeal was over. "I thought 'there we go, he's on time'... the fact of the matter is that Jesus kept his word. I experienced a miracle."

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