Jackie's Journey: "Kidnapped and Killed!"


“Afflictions are but the shadow of God’s wings.”

George MacDonald

In the tropics the challenges are relentless. I recently read, ”The Darien Gap, a large swath of undeveloped swampland and dense forest with no roads, is dangerous due to incidents of kidnapping, murder and drug-running by Colombian guerillas and paramilitary groups who have crossed the border into Panama.”  

This is the very place where God chose to locate us.

After leaving our field of service, three new families moved into our village and into our homes to continue the work among the Kuna’s.  Those three New Tribe Mission families were put to the ultimate test when their husbands were kidnapped by a Colombian paramilitary group (FARC).The horror of their capture and disappearance into the dense Darien jungle was unthinkable

.“When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below…How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no God like you and there is no God but you…”

Joshua 2:11 and 2 Samuel 7:22

 My heart was lost in the “inconceivable”.   It was my worst imaginings while living interior and it had become reality just a few years after we returned to the U.S.  What would happen now?  Will our Kuna family go on? How would these wives and their children continue?  These three brave missionary women would later learn their husbands had been murdered shortly after their capture!    Lawlessness prevails in the Darien…

“The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”

Charles H. Spurgeon

I did not do a lot of research on Panama, the Darien or any investigation of our area prior to entering our tribe.  It was deep into the jungle by way of a maze of rivers past all civilization.  It was magnificent in beauty and scale, but intimidating with threatening unknowns.  My husband and I were on the adventure of our lives and our zeal to reach these remote people for Christ was indescribable.  They needed the story of God and mankind from the beginning and we were challenged by the opportunity.

The Kunas could not imagine why these foreigners were living among them.  What did we really want?   Our goal was to share the gospel with these tribal people who had no background to understand God’s Word.  Their god, after all, was an Earthmother!

The arduous task of learning a completely foreign language and culture to communicate the Gospel clearly was set before us and we had been prepared well.  Through Boot Camp and Language School we came to understand academically and spiritually the job at hand and we were anxious to get at it.  We did not allow ourselves to entertain the possibility of turning back or what it might cost or the price that we might be called upon to pay!

I am grateful I was unaware of all the potential dangers that lurked in our geographical area.   When the news came to us of the men and their families that followed us, it was shocking.  God’s timing is not ours, His ways are not ours and His ultimate purpose is not always obvious or easily read.  His sovereignty, however, is ours to claim and is the place where we find peace in utter confusion and turmoil.

 I am eternally grateful to those women in different pockets of the world, who stood with us during our time in Panama.  The prayers of the faithful sustained us as they “held the ropes” at home. Those who joined hands with us to reach this remote group of Kunas in the Darien Gap confirmed His calling on us and they were the continual source of encouragement that we needed to “keep on keeping on”. 

The next time you think you are having a “bad” day,

Will you pray with me for those moms who are still in remote areas involved in “reaching the unreached?”

 I know you can do all things (God).

And that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Job 42:


~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America.  Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California.  My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights. 

Posted on October 17, 2016 and filed under Character and Virtue, Motherhood, Spiritual Growth.