Friday, February 27, 2015


Phyllis Sorter, Nigerian kidnap incident, Free Methodist, Emiworo, Nigeria, Seattle Pacific University
(Joyful update. Phyllis Sorter has been freed.)

 A graduate of Seattle Pacific University (SPU), Phyllis Sorter, was kidnapped at gunpoint from the Hope Academy compound in the Nigerian town of Emiworo in Kogi State, central Nigeria, earlier this week. She was living in the area on mission for the Free Methodist Church. As a graduate of SPU and an ordained elder in a branch of Methodism, I identify with her and hope for her safety.

  • As an old Africanist, I can add some color to the story.
  • She's shown in the photograph  in a boat on a very wide river but the river's name isn't provided. The photo appears on a Facebook page and the image probably has no connection whatsoever with the crime. It simply shows a bit of the life she leads in Africa. I'll guess that the river's name is the Benue since the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers is located in Kogi State. Kogi State is also adjacent to the Federal Administrative District of Nigeria. Though centrally located in Nigeria, the town of Emiworo must be very small. I can find it on a map but cannot find photos.

 Sorter (on the Benue?)

  • Another interesting fact: Sorter claims a special interest in the Fulani people. Many among the 40 million Fulani people spread across the Sahel have become Muslim over the centureies. If the Fulani of Emiworo have become Muslim, there might be some connection with the kidnapping, but I doubt it. Generally, Muslims and Christians in West Africa coexist. Rather, it seems more likely that she's being held for ransom. Kidnapping of Westerners for ransom is all too common in Nigeria.

A quick and informative read, with additional photos, is available on the Daily Mail website. 
Also, I refer you to the Los Angeles Times coverage for more news detail of West Coast-U.S.A. reactions.

I pray for Sorter's safe return and for the safety of others that may be similarly imperiled.



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