Rescued Missionary Sold Everything for Africa

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CBN News has more information about Jessica Buchanan, the missionary who was rescued from Somali kidnappers last weekend by the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team 6.

Those who know Buchanan describe her as a woman with a strong Christian faith and a big heart for Africa.

The 32-year-old missionary was working with a Danish aid group. She sold nearly all her possessions to become a missionary in Somalia.

She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 2007 she attended Valley Forge University, a Christian college in Phoenixville, Pa.

While student teaching in Nairobi, she felt the call to help spread the gospel to Africa.

"She absolutely fell in love with Africa, said Dr. Don Meyers, the university's president.

"Africa grew around her heart or her heart grew around Africa. She could hardly talk about Africa without getting tears in her eyes," Meyers said.

Her brother, Stephen Buchanan, said she understood the risks of working in that part of the world.

"Someone from their own team turned against them and divulged information that made them susceptible to being kidnapped," he explained.

Somali pirates kidnapped Buchanan and her Danish co-worker, Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, in Galkayo, Somalia, on Oct. 25, 2011. The two worked together for the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Regugee Council.

Her family and friends began praying and after nearly three months, those prayers were answered when SEAL Team 6 swooped in and rescued the pair in a surprise raid.

"They are just so overwhelmed with gratitude and so overwhelmed that she is all right," Meyers said.

"To know that she's safe is such a weight off our shoulders, an answer to our prayers," her brother, Stephen, said.

Buchanan has been described by her friends as a compassionate woman with a strong desire to serve the Lord and help others.

"Jessica is the kind of [person who] would continue to pray for them and try to bring them to Lord rather than just leave. And I'm sure if anything, her faith sustained her," said Roy Merrill, Buchanan's former high school teacher.

"She loves kid's and she loves to help people and that's the reason she was over there -- just to help," said Dave Buchanan, Jessica's uncle.

Buchanan is now preparing to begin the journey home from a U.S. military base in Africa. While her family waits, they're expressing gratitude to the men who risked their lives to save Jessica.

"So thankful for the courage those men and women have, willing to sacrifice their lives for my sister," her brother said.

"The men who risked their lives, I just can't thank them enough. I really really appreciate it," her father, John Buchanan, said.

President Obama ordered the mission after U.S. intelligence sources revealed Buchanan's health was declining. He called John Buchanan right after giving the State of the Union address Tuesday night to tell him that his daughter was safe.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.