Terry Waite: faith when God seems distant


Duncan told us this morning that when he and Shona were in New Zealand, they had a chance to spend several hours with Terry Waite. Waite was involved in negotiating the release of  people held captive by an Islamic Jihad organisation in Beirut in the 1980s, before himself being seized and  held hostage for over five years, four of them in solitary confinement.

He was released in November 1991, and has now devoted his life to helping people unjustly facing persecution and imprisonment.

During his years in solitary confinement, Terry Waite was kept in a windowless room below ground level, chained to a radiator for almost 24 hours each day.

‘Where was God in that situation?’ Duncan asked him.  Terry Waite replied that he didn’t ever really feel the presence of God. But he remembered the prayers he had memorised, and every day he repeated those prayers, simply trusting that  God was there.

In the course of the years he was held hostage, he only received one piece of mail, a postcard sent by someone in the Midlands, and addressed to Terry Waite, c/o Hezbollah, Beirut.  On one side, was a message of encouragement, on the other, a picture of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress  in his prison cell in Bedford. (He was imprisoned for religious reasons in the 1660s and early 1670s).  Terry Waite mused about how lucky John Bunyan was – as depicted on the card, he had a window, a pen, writing material.

Terry Waite’s time as a hostage is an example of holding on to faith in God, when God feels far distant.


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