MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was supposed to be a mission trip to minister to women and children in Guatemala. But just a few hours into the trip, church members from Minnesota and western Wisconsin were begging for their lives.
Six members of Riverside Church in Somerset, Wis. are still recovering after they were kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint two weeks ago.
Of all the prayers Sheryl Dzieweczynski expected to say on her first mission trip, praying for her life was not one.
“My heart was just pounding and all I could do was pray. I just prayed,” Dzieweczynski said. “I thought this is it. We’re done for.”
Dzieweczynski planned the 12-day mission trip to Guatemala for a year with four other members of her church, including Grant and Lisa Lind, Geno and Judy Vaccaroand and their pastor, Bill Hieb.
“We were given the red carpet treatment at the airport like we always are,” Hieb said.
They all piled into a van for a five-hour trip to their host’s home. A half hour before they got there, they heard gunfire.
“Within moments the gunmen were actually inside the vehicle with a pistol pushed against my ribs,” Hieb said.
They were driven deep into the jungle, laid face-down on the dirt and lined up in a row. Their wrists and ankles were tied with shoelaces.
For more than two hours, they could only listen as just about everything they brought with them was stolen. Pastor Hieb tried to appeal to the faith of the lead captor.
“I said to him: ‘Chriso meade,’ which is Spanish for: ‘Christ is alive.’ And he answered by saying: ‘I know,’” he said.
The gunmen told them to stay there for three hours or they would shoot and kill them. But after they heard the men leave, they got up and untied each other.
Amazingly, a few people from Riverside decided to stay and continue their ministry, and it won’t keep them from their next mission.
“We’re never finished. We could never finish. We will do the work that we were created to do and that’s what we’ll do,” said Hieb.
They did report the crime to the State Department and received a police escort back to the airport. In all, the robbers got away with $5,000 in cash, $15,000 in equipment and supplies, as well as all of their cell phones, cameras and computers. They also took all of their medical supplies they were brining for the people of Guatemala.
If you’d like to help Riverside Church, click here to visit their website.