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Four LDS Missionaries Released Unharmed

Four LDS Missionaries Released Unharmed

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Carole Mikita ReportingKidnappers in Nigeria have released four missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The young men are unharmed.

Elder M. Russell Ballard: "I think heaven had something to do with this wonderful result."

The missionaries are spending the night with a church bishop who led negotiations to free them. Church leaders reiterated that they do not pay ransom, but they did give the kidnappers something.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said church leaders gave the kidnappers $810 for food and care of the missionaries. He believes the kidnappers thought the missionaries worked in the oil industry and could bring a sizeable ransom. This evening he told us prayers from millions around the world were answered.

Elder Ballard: "We know that there's a power a lot stronger than ours and we get that working for us, we're gonna get things resolved."

Four young Nigerians serving in their own country are free after five days of captivity. The man who oversees the LDS church's missionary department offered emotional thanks.

Executive director of the LDS Church Missionary Department, Elder Quentin L. Cook: "My first feeling was a prayer of gratitude for the intervention of so many wonderful people to have a wonderful solution."

They credit the negotiators, community and tribal leaders in the city of Port Harcourt, and especially one bishop.

Elder Ballard: "This was not without risk on his part, I mean he was moving back and forth and trying to resolve this. In my judgment, he's a real hero."

Elder Ballard believes the missionaries tried teaching their captors the gospel, just like two others years ago who found themselves in the home of a Colombian drug cartel leader.

Elder Ballard: "He said, 'Now, boys, we know exactly who you are, we know everywhere you go, we know everything you do and as long as you just keep doing that, you'll be alright. Then they left and found out later, they were right in the heart, but they wanted to teach them the first lessons."

With 53-thousand missionaries in an increasingly dangerous world, $810 for food and care is not much, he says.

Elder Ballard: "As you know, it's always been a policy that the church would not pay ransom. We were very pleased to give them the money to take care of the missionaries."

300 missionaries serve in Nigeria. Church leaders will take a close look at what happened this week.

Elder Ballard: "We'll learn everything we need to learn from it, and if there are changes required, we'll make them."

Elder Ballard says he is very anxious to talk with the missionaries and hear their story. They will continue their missions in Nigeria but be reassigned to another city.

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