15th March 2010
Tags: Heroes, Ingrid Betancourt, Meryl Streep, NZ Herald,  faith, prayer, religion, Alan Johnson, religion

Ingrid Betancourt, a Colombian-French politician, was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and held hostage for six and a half years.

Sourced from

From and…/Meryl+Streep

“I was in a situation where I had to make a decision: an intellectual, rational one (of the mind), or that of some kind of spiritual discipline and faith. The first was easy, the second path hard. The first is about ego, the second about the battle inside you that gives life meaning.
I chose the hardest path – it was like having wings. I wanted to look at everything another way.
It’s no specific faith. It could be any religion – it’s a deep belief in God, the human spirit.
If I had not felt God at my side, I do not believe that I would have been able to overcome such suffering. When you are an hostage, you are facing constant humiliation. You are the victim of total arbitrary. You get to know the worse there is in the human soul.”

– the words of Ingrid Betancourt

Streep presents award to ex-hostage Betancourt

Actress Meryl Streep presented a leadership award to Ingrid Betancourt at the DVF Awards Saturday, March 13, 2010 at United Nations headquarters in New York. Betancourt, a French-Colombian who was running for president of Colombia when she was kidnapped in 2002 by leftist FARC guerrillas, was one of four women honored at the event.

Betancourt was the former Colombian presidential candidate who endured years of captivity in jungle camps. She was one of four women honored Saturday night at the inaugural DVF Awards, created by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to honor women working for change in their countries.
Betancourt, 48, was freed in 2008 in a dramatic rescue operation and now lives in France, where she was raised. Of her time in captivity, she told Saturday’s audience that she had learned something important.
“When you have lost everything, when everything that you care about has been taken from you, when you feel your life doesn’t belong to you anymore, there’s something that nobody can take from you: the freedom to choose who you want to be.”

Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, an Afghan women’s rights activist, was another recipient of a DVF Award, receiving her statue from CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour. She said she hoped to use her award money from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation — $50,000 — toward building the first Afghan women’s college.

Sourced from New Zealand Herald

A hostage gives thanks
Ingrid Betancourt plainly thought God had a hand in her liberation, but the signs went unremarked in most news coverage.
Faith and Prayer: The untold side of Ingrid Betancourt’s hostage drama
Friday July 11, 2008
Categories: Faith, Catholic, Politics

The dramatic rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and others held hostage by Colombia’s FARC thugs riveted the world for days (which is an eternity of sorts in media years). But a signal aspect of her captivity–and her survival–was her intense devotion. She prayed the rosary on beads she made during her six years in the jungle, and she says God saved her from bitterness during her captivity:
“To be a hostage places you in a situation of constant humiliation,” she told Pelerin, a French Christian weekly. While captive, pronouncing the biblical words “bless your enemy” was “magic,” she said. Now, she is asking Colombia’s leaders to do likewise. “We have reached the point where we must change the radical, extremist vocabulary of hate, of very strong words that intimately wound the human being,” she said in an interview Monday on Radio France International.

On her return to Paris (she is a French native who was running for president of Colombia when she was kidnapped), Betancourt prayed at the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, and earlier in the day she prayed at Saint-Sulpice, the great Left Bank basilica (that also figured prominently in “The Da Vinci Code”).

Hers is a remarkable story, only half-told, or heard.

Sourced from:

Martin In The Margins
Saturday, 20 December 2008

Alan Johnson and Ingrid Betancourt on faith and prayer
The BBC News website features a fascinating and often moving conversation between Alan Johnson and Ingrid Betancourt about their experiences of being kidnapped, the former by Islamist militants in Gaza and the latter by the FARC in Colombia. Despite some similarities in the way they coped with the ordeal, they differed in one important way, as related by Johnson:
I am grateful to the many people who I know were kind enough to pray for me when I was lost in Gaza. But actually, I was not praying myself. I would hear on the radio of war and bloodshed in places like DR Congo, and I felt that if God was not intervening to spare the innocent there, I could not see quite why He might intervene for me.
I struggle to believe that God closely manages our individual lives. But Ingrid’s faith seems to have been a huge factor in her survival. She said that I had simply not asked the right questions about God, and that it was our connection with Him that made us human. He was not creating the ills of the world, she said. Mankind had been given free will, and it was to blame.
Johnson is articulating one of the major stumbling-blocks to belief in a personal God. The experience of the Holocaust is often cited in evidence: if God failed to heed the cries of six million, who were surely praying as intensely as it is possible to imagine as they went to their deaths, why should we presume He would listen to our petty prayers for good health or a safe journey?

I remember reading an interview with an Anglican woman priest whose daughter was killed in the 7/7 bombings, as a result of which her Christian faith was deeply shaken. Friends tried to comfort her by reassuring her that, wherever her daughter was now, God would surely be looking after her. But why, the mother responded, wasn’t He looking after her on that terrible morning, on the London Underground?
In the light of God’s apparent silence through the horrors of the past century, the capacity to go on believing in Him depends on the extent to which one finds Ingrid Betancourt’s
response convincing.

Labels: Religion
I think that the fact that Ingrid Bettancourt was held hostage for much longer explains part of it.  I think faith is, above all, a mental strategy that some people use and others, including people who consider themselves as believers, don’t.



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