US church confirms kidnap of female missionary in Nigeria

US church confirms kidnap of female missionary in Nigeria

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 8:48 pm

The Free Methodist Church in the United States said several masked people abducted one of its missionaries from a compound in Kogi state, central Nigeria.

In a statement on its website, the church said it received a report Monday morning that the Rev. Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo, Kogi state.

Phyllis Sortor: kidnapped

Phyllis Sortor: kidnapped

The message from Bishop David Kendall says the U.S. Embassy has been notified, and the State Department and the FBI are working with local authorities to find and rescue her.

The State Department said it is aware that a U.S. citizen has been reported missing in Nigeria, where kidnappings for ransom are common.

“In cases where U.S. citizens are confirmed missing, the U.S. embassy works closely with those involved, supporting local authorities in their search efforts, and providing all appropriate consular assistance,” the agency said.

It wouldn’t release further information, citing privacy concerns. An FBI spokeswoman in Seattle, Ayn Dietrich, says the agency is trying to confirm the kidnapping reports.

The gate to the compound where Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped

The gate to the compound where Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped

Sortor’s stepson, Richard Sortor attended a prayer service Monday night at Sortor’s alma mater, Seattle Pacific University, telling reporters that “she believes in God, she’s doing God’s work,” KING-TV reported.

Sortor graduated in 1964 from the school affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, said Tracy Norlen, a university spokeswoman.

John Van Valin, who lives outside Indianapolis and has known Sortor for about 15 years, said she’s self-sacrificing, vivacious and committed to missionary work.

“She has a real passion for missionary work and helping people in need,” he said. “We’re just really saddened to hear the news, but we’re praying a great deal. There are people all around the world who are praying for her.”

Sortor with locals

Sortor with locals

According to the church website, Sortor is the financial administrator for Hope Academy; works with International Child Care Ministries, a child sponsorship program in more than 30 countries; and recently opened a school for the children of nomadic Fulani herdsmen, who are Muslim.

Brenda Young, lead pastor with Cornerstone Free Methodist Church in Akron, Ohio, said she has been working with Sortor on projects to get clean drinking water to people in Nigeria.

Young said Sortor made her home base in Seattle when she was not overseas. She said Sortor and her husband worked side by side as missionaries before his death several years ago, and that her father was also a well-known missionary.

“She is so passionate about her work there and trying to take care of people in Nigeria,” said Young, who last communicated with Sortor several weeks ago. “She’s relentless. She’s very courageous. She perseveres.”

*Originally reported by Mail Online

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