MINDANAO, Philippines - Very few kidnap victims have been freed from the Abu Sayyaf, a radical Muslim group linked to al Qaeda, but an encounter with God changed the life of one hostage who eventually made it out alive.
Raymund, not his real name, will never forget that afternoon when heavily armed Abu Sayyaf rebels seized him from his car.
"For two hours I was questioning God, 'why me Lord?' I was terrified for my life because just a few days before, there were victims who did not make it. The Abu Sayyaf killed them," he said.
Raymund prayed he would not suffer the fate of the other kidnap victims.
"I told God, I am different from them. I will survive because you have a purpose why you allowed this to happen," he told CBN News.
Raymund is a Christian who lives in one of the most Muslim towns of Mindanao. Walking through the streets of the town gives you a feeling of uncertainty because it is a place where Christians are targeted by kidnappers.
Former Abu Sayyaf member Almir, not his real name, is now an informer for the Phillipine military. He said Islam and money motivate the Muslim terrorist group.
"They are very angry with the Christians especially the foreign tourists. If you don't pay the ransom they will kill you," he said.
"They want to Islamize the whole island," he warned. "But this is impossible because here the Christians and the Muslims live together."
Raymund became very weary after more than a month of jungle captivity, but prayer and an encounter with God sustained him.
"Lord if you are really here, give me a sign. Let it rain," he recalled praying.
He said though it was very sunny that day, after he prayed, it suddenly began to rain.
"I was happy and that strengthened me again because I knew God was with me in that jungle," he said. "I made a commitment that if I got out, I will serve the Lord no matter what it cost."
The kidnappers released Raymund unharmed several weeks later, after his family paid a ransome.
Today Raymund works with the Gideons and helps distribute bibles, even to Muslim police officers.
"Thank you for giving our police officers these bibles. I am a Muslim but I accept the Bible because some teachings are also in the Koran and they help me a lot," Insp. Mendir said.
While Raymund was fortunate to be released, five foreigners and three Filipinos are still being held. He is praying that a U.S.-backed military rescue, or even an encounter with God, will free them.
This month seven Phillippine marines died trying to rescue hostages from the Abu Sayyaf.