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Kidnap victim’s escape began with a reminder of God’s love

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Sharing God’s plan of salvation became a salvation of a different sort for a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student who had been kidnapped while on spring break.

Thinking he was about to be shot and killed by his kidnappers, Lee Robert Cook silently asked God one final request, “Lord, if this is your plot for me and my life I accept it, but at least give me a chance before I die to share with them about you.”

Cook, a master of divinity student from Tennessee, got the chance to tell one of his abductors about God’s love when the other abductor was putting gas in the car.

“I wanted to say, ‘[Jesus] died for you and he cares about you, [because] that’s the reason I live and I believe Christ came to die for the unlovely,'” said Cook, who was in the backseat.

He told the driver, “You know I don’t know if I’m going to die or not, but I want you to know that Jesus loves you and there is hope for you.”

Then the kidnapper leaned his head on the steering wheel and put his head on top of his wrist, “and at that moment I saw that he didn’t have a pistol,” Cook recalled.

Immediately the thought came to him, “Rob, this is time for you to escape; it is time for you to go, [and] you need to get out of here.”

He began maneuvering his way to the side of the door.

“When the other guy got into the car from getting gas, I jumped out of the car and took off running,” he said.

The near-death experience for Cook began in a room where he was staying at a Best Western in Beaumont, Texas, while he was walking toward the nightstand the morning of March 14.

His back was turned to the door, which was ajar since he was about to leave, when he heard the words, “Give me all your money.”

As he turned around, he saw a man with a shotgun.

“My first response, reaction was this is a joke; this is not really happening,” he said. “That was probably one second, tenth of a second, but it felt like it was about a minute.”

Realizing this was the “real deal,” he thought, “Give him everything. You can take whatever you want, just don’t shoot me.”

So he automatically went to his knees on the floor, and the intruder put the shotgun within “2 or 3 feet” of his chest, Cook said.

“I thought he was going to shoot me; my life was determined by a pull of the trigger,” he continued, adding that he felt helpless because he was not in control.

“I didn’t know if I would ever get [up from] the motel, because he was so volatile and his eyes looked like [he had] been up all night,” Cook recounted. “I guess there were three different times in that whole scenario that I really thought that I was going to be shot. Whether I was going to die or just be shot, I didn’t know. It just sort of brings your life into perspective over again.”

Cook, who said he hardly ever carries any cash, only had four dollars in his wallet, which infuriated the man with the shotgun, who became more volatile and hollered for more money.

He then decided to take Cook to an ATM and force him to withdraw cash with his credit card.

“So, he walked me out with a shotgun in my back, [and] threw me into his car,” Cook said.

The kidnapper and his partner in the car wanted $600, but Cook, who does not use credit cards to get cash, didn’t know his personal identification number.

At the ATM, “I was just acting as if I knew the PIN number, but I really didn’t,” Cook said. “So the word I kept pushing at the ATM was hope, [and] I pushed it four times.”

Finally, the kidnapper with the gun threatened to shoot him immediately, “and at that time, I really thought he was going to shoot me,” Cook said.

Meanwhile, the ATM took his credit card because he had repeatedly punched in the wrong numbers.

“That really caused him to get really angry,” Cook said.

When he managed to get the credit card out of the ATM, they decided to take him to the “‘hood, the bad end of the town,” Cook said.

They told him, “If you can’t get the $600 out of your credit card, we’re gonna shoot you and it will take a while for police to find you.”

As they drove away from the bank, they took his keys, necklace and wedding ring.

Soon, the car ran out of gas, and they stopped at a gas station where a man was spraying water on the parking lot.

When he came over to talk with the kidnapper putting in the gas, “I began dialoguing with the driver,” said Cook, who realized the kidnappers were drug addicts.

The driver told him that he did not want to do this, but it was his friend’s plan.

Then Cook told him about Jesus, and the driver’s reaction gave him an opportunity to escape, but he did not take advantage of it because, “I was afraid for the guy spraying the pavement, [because] if I jump out now [the kidnapper] might shoot him,” Cook said.

So he delayed his escape until the kidnapper returned to his seat, because Cook thought, “When he gets inside the car, there might be a possibility where he might not be able to get the shotgun or pistol.”

When the kidnapper got in the vehicle, he got out and ran to safety. He reported the incident to police, but no arrests have been made yet.

Understandably, Cook still thinks about the incident and the two men. “I haven’t had any anger,” he said. “I know the names of the guys, and I pray for them.”
(BP) low res photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LEE ROBERT COOK.

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  • Don Yang