This Week in Church History: Debbie Dortzbach, OPC: Foreign Missions
On June 22, 1974, Debbie Dortzbach's ordeal ended when her kidnappers released her in Massawa, Eritrea.
On May 27, four armed members of the Eritrean Liberation Front abducted the missionary intern at gunpoint along with Anna Strikwerda from the Compassion of Jesus Hospital, an Orthodox Presbyterian medical mission in Ghinda, Eritrea. When Miss Strikwerda, who had served the mission as a nurse for eight years, was unable to keep pace with her kidnappers, she was shot and killed. Mrs. Dortzbach, pregnant with her first child, was held captive for 26 days, while the mission refused the ELF's demand for payment of a ransom.
Miss Strikwerda was the first martyr of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. For weeks, the church feared that Mrs. Dortzbach would become the second. Indeed, a letter from her captors warned the mission that it would bear the consequences for refusing to pay the ransom. A few days later the church rejoiced when the kidnappers unexpectedly released her unharmed. Because of the escalation of the Eritrean civil war, the Committee of Foreign Missions determined soon after to close the mission.