Hostage Discovers Freedom in Captivity

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Few people have escaped captivity from Colombia's notorious Farc terrorists. American Marc Gonsalves is one of the exceptions.

He and two co-workers endured horrid conditions in the jungle for five and a half years.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Correspondent Gary Lane.

In February 2003, a plane carrying American civilian contractors over the jungles of Colombia experienced engine failure. Intelligence analyst Marc Gonsalves cried out to God as the plane plummeted to the ground.

"I basically said, 'oh God, please if I can survive this.' I'll do this, I'll do that, let's make a deal almost as if we were in some kind of negotiation," Gonsalves said.

"I was in a place before my captivity where I was a Christian, but I was kind of, not really there. I wasn't praying anymore, I wasn't going to church and I still believed in God," he said. "I believed, but I was still lost and this brought me back to Him immediately."

God Gave Him a Second Chance

Marc says God gave him a second chance. He survived the plane crash but was taken captive by Colombia's Farc guerrillas -- members of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia. Also kidnapped were his colleagues -- Americans Tom Howes and Keith Stansell.

Their ordeal is detailed in the new book, Out of Captivity.

After five and a half years of captivity, Marc said the hardest part was being away from his family.

"For me the worst thing was being away from my family. One of my greatest fears was to not be able to see my kids again. I really wanted to hear their voices, to touch my children, just to see them. That was one of my greatest fears," he said.

"The other was I was very concerned about what was happening to my family while I was gone."

Concerned About His Family

Those concerns intensified for Marc about three years into his captivity. While the other Americans continued to received messages from their loved ones, Marc says his wife Shane had grown silent.

There came a time where he realized that she had moved on.

"That was difficult," he said. "I could put myself in her position and I could see how she didn't know if I was dead or alive. I had been gone for so many years already and she was still here trying to raise three kids by herself," he added.

"She needed to carry on with her life, she didn't know if I was going to come back."

Marc says he did not expect to survive captivity in the jungle until he felt God's presence in the midst of his suffering. It happened one night when he was locked in a 6x6 box as Colombian military jets began dropping bombs on the enemy camp.

"I was just shaking, physically shaking and I just called out to God to protect us and I really felt like He did this, that He cupped His hands like this and I was inside there," he said.

'He Saved Me Again'

"The next morning I woke up and I felt different, I felt like He saved me again -- saved my physical life and that's when I believed that we were going to live through that."

After that experience, Marc had a desire to read God's word.

"I always had access to a Bible before and I never picked it up to read it. I was just so curious, so hungry to know more," he said.

"So I asked God for a miracle --another miracle -- to bring me a Bible. And then one day it came: a Bible in English and in Spanish and from that point on -- it was A New Testament Bible -- I began to read it over and over and over again," he said.

The Bible was given to him by a Colombian hostage.

Betancourt Generous and Humane

He says he often discussed the Bible and his faith with fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt -- the French Colombian who was kidnapped while running for president of Colombia in 2002. Marc says he saw a woman of faith who was generous and humane.

"She and I would be able to sit together and talk about the Bible and we would have nice, enjoyable discussions and really I didn't have anybody else to do that with and neither did she," he said.

Gonsalves and 14 other hostages -- including Howes, Stansell and Bentancourt -- were rescued on July 2, 2008. Their Farc captors had been tricked into handing them over to Colombian commandos posing as aid workers.

They made it safely home.

Today, Marc fine tunes his Limited Edition Road King -- a gift from the Harley Davison Company. He's looking forward to a cross country freedom ride with former fellow hostages Howes and Stansell.

He says he doesn't quite know what God's plan is for his future, but he does know he was transformed by his Colombia hostage experience.

"I was in a situation where I was dead spiritually and I was facing death physically for many years and now I feel alive spiritually," he said.

"He took me in with His arms open and He brought me to Him and so, if I had to lose 5 ½ years of my life here on earth to know God, well I'm thankful that it happened that way."

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CBN News
Gary Lane

Gary Lane

CBN News Correspondent

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