News Articles

Held hostage for five hours, IMB family senses God’s presence

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic (BP)–Recently awakened early one Sunday morning, a Georgia man sensed an urgency to pray for missionary friends living in the Dominican Republic. Later that same day, a church member in Tennessee who had visited the Caribbean nation stood before his congregation and asked the church to pray for missionaries he felt were in great danger.

The timing of these prayers may seem like coincidence to some, but Roger and Diana Gaunt are convinced these petitions to God were no fluke. The missionary couple has no doubt that these prayers were divine intervention that ultimately protected them during a recent home invasion.

“God used folks in the states … to pray for us. We know that it was the prayers that went up to the Lord … that preserved our lives,” said Roger Gaunt, who has served as a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary in the Dominican Republic for 18 years. “We are sure the Lord prompted and used prayer.”

Prayer power is precisely what the Gaunt family needed Sunday, Nov. 5.

Returning to their home in La Romana following morning church services, the Gaunts and three of their teenage children walked in on at least three armed robbers who were burglarizing their residence. At once, Roger Gaunt said, the intruders took the family hostage at gunpoint and held them against their will for the next five, dreadful hours.

During the harrowing ordeal, the Gaunts were gagged, blindfolded and bound at their hands and feet. At one point, a gunman threatened a family member, and struck and slapped others.

“There were times I thought some of us were not going to make it,” Gaunt stated. “We had to depend on God … and believe God was in control.”

Throughout the abduction, Gaunt said he and his family prayed for the Lord’s protection, and silently recited comforting Scripture passages. They would later discover, through e-mails, that a close friend and even complete strangers had also been praying for them.

“I’m going to frame those letters in gold,” Gaunt said.

After robbing the Gaunts of many personal belongings, the intruders eventually left their home. Within a while, one family member managed to escape the bonds and helped untie the others.

The local police are investigating the crime, Gaunt said. But, no arrests have been made.

Fortunately, the Gaunts were not seriously hurt during the incidence, however, within a few days of the robbery, the family left the Caribbean island to recoup from their experiences. They are currently residing in Little Rock so they can be near another daughter who attends Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, and relatives who live in Bella Vista.

Despite the dreadful episode, Gaunt said he sensed that God was in control and was guarding them from harm.

“I’ve never felt the presence of God’s angels in my life like I did that afternoon” stated Gaunt. “We were not alone in that room.

“Beyond a shadow of doubt we are convinced that on the day of judgment God will replay that scene again … and God will lift the veil from our eyes and we will see all that were in that room,” he shared. “There are just so many confirmations, like these faxes and letters from people who were praying for us, that we know … God’s army was there.

“We don’t understand all the implications, but just that God used folks whose prayers … helped us,” he added.

Gaunt said he is also certain the Lord “somehow worked in the life of one of the intruders.” The man, who Gaunt believed persuaded the others not to harm them, at one point loosened the ropes on Mrs. Gaunt’s hands when he saw her weeping. He later asked family members to forgive him.

Since arriving in Arkansas, the Gaunts have received a helping hand from several Arkansas Baptists who have supplied them with housing, food and monetary resources. Insurance coverage will also reimburse them for some lost belongings.

Members of First Baptist Church of Geyer Springs of Little Rock recently took up a sizable love offering for the family. The Gaunts are living in a home owned by the Geyer Springs church.

Thanking the Geyer Springs family, Gaunt said he is grateful for the assistance. “They didn’t know us, but they reached out to us,” he shared. “I am so impressed by them and … their servant’s heart.”

Gaunt was quick to express gratitude to the IMB for their support. “IMB officials have been so loving and kind …,” he said.

Looking to the coming days, Gaunt said he is unsure of his family’s future plans, and he is praying for God’s guidance. However, he is unequivocally confident of one thing — the power of prayer.

Calling the ordeal “the most difficult experience of my life,” Gaunt said, he has no doubt “prayer … activates and moves the arm of God.”

    About the Author

  • Stella Anderson Prather