Welcome to this Christian short story, “Extraction: India” by D.I. Telbat. We pray it blesses you and honors the Lord.
by D.I. Telbat
“She is down there, in that shack.”
“You’re sure she’s still alive?”
“We heard her cries two nights ago. We would not have called your organization if we were not certain.”
They sidestepped the stream of sewage that trickled down a rut between the shelters. A few half-naked children nearby chased a chicken. This was Guruparahalli, a slum district seven miles from downtown Bangalore, India.
Lyle “Mac” McCormack walked a few paces away, cautiously eyeing the rust-colored shack toward which his contact had gestured. He knew the man from East India only as Mr. B.
Mr. B was a slender man in his thirties. His hand bore the marks of torture, left by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, the fountainhead of the radical Hindutva group in India. Now, Mr. B worked with the Christian underground, helping the persecuted, the Untouchables. He came alongside Mac, as they gazed sadly at the filth that spanned for miles.
“Do you have a plan, sir?” Mr. B asked.
Mac, a 43-year-old Montanan who’d given his life to the Lord many years prior, had been the leader of Team Zayin for ten years. His military experience had given him the background necessary to perform risky extractions from the most desperate situations and locations around the world.
“A plan?” Mac asked, glancing at the sky. It was nearly sundown. They had to go in tonight. The freighter to South Africa was leaving at dawn. “Sure. I’ve got a plan.”
“Do you need me any longer?” Mr. B inquired. “I think . . . I should not be seen with you. At least, not here.”
Mac nodded his agreement at the informant.
“You’re right. Go with God, Friend. We will do our best, with God’s help.”
Mr. B bowed slightly, looked in both directions, and then slipped out of sight between residential shacks made partially of cardboard. Mac studied the target shack from afar for another five minutes, memorizing every detail. The next time he would be there would be at night. He then turned and walked down the dirt road toward Bangalore.
A quarter-mile later, Mac reached a road worthy of vehicles, and climbed into a BMW van. Sven “Russia” Madrovich sat in the driver’s seat. He was a heavy, six-foot-five Russian who had backed Mac on more missions than either middle-aged man could count. One of Russia’s many “talents” was his sniper marksmanship ability.
“It won’t be easy,” Mac admitted. “There’s not much room to maneuver if something goes wrong. We’ll need night vision, besides the pens.”
“What is her name?” Russia asked with a rich accent.
Regardless of the countless missions they’d executed, every operation was personal to each of the team members. Both Mac and Russia had scars of their own from helping others who sought to live for Christ. And sometimes, as in another recent rescue, things had gone awry, and even Mac needed a rescue himself. Remembering how he’d received the scars on his chest and neck, he silently prayed for God’s protection and safety on this next mission, as well as for this poor young woman.
“Her name is Sudkam Digal,” Mac informed. Trying to get a feel for their surroundings, they sat and watched the traffic, the animals, and the people. Just two nights prior, they’d pulled two missionaries out of war-torn Afghanistan. Now they were in India. They had long grown immune to culture shock.
“She’s the mother of two. Missing for five weeks.”
“Every Christian suffers in India.” Russia sat in reflection for a moment. “I do not mean disrespect, but why are we here for this one woman?”
“This is a heightened brand of persecution, our contact said. These people are familiar with the beatings, arrests, even the occasional execution. But this blatant kidnapping and holding—it’s beyond anything the Hindutva has been willing to do so openly, until now. The police have been alerted, but the anti-conversion laws are upheld, and they won’t help.
“The RSS needs to be sent a little message: that Christians are part of a body that spans the world. When they attack one member, the international community steps up in love.”
Mac passed a picture of Sudkam Digal to Russia. She was a wide-eyed woman with a flashy smile.
“Pretty young woman,” Russia said.
“She’s been held by this RSS gang for five weeks now,” Mac stated with a frown. “Don’t expect her to look the same.”
“Is this your way of telling me I am going in first?” Russia chuckled knowingly.
“One look at you and these thugs will probably run. Our contact says they’re mostly twenty year olds.”
“Yes, twenty year olds armed with knives and clubs,” Russia said. “You remember, da? We have been here before.”
“Yeah, I remember well. Let’s go. We’ll come back after midnight.”
Russia started the van and made a U-turn to drive back to their rented apartment in Bangalore. This job was to be a quick one, with only Sudkam Digal needing help this time, so the rest of Team Zayin hadn’t come to India with them. If the two men ran into any resistance, Mac would regret having given the other two a much-needed short vacation.
Mac thought of his Special Forces team. Besides Russia, there was Rube, who was an ex-guerrilla from Mexico. Czech was an ex-U.N. peacekeeper from the Czech Republic. It was said he could fly anything with wings or rotors. And there were other teams carrying out similar extractions in other countries. They were available to him if the need ever arose.
Each of these men and women experienced changed lives since meeting the Lord. Now they desired to use their past training and experiences to serve Him with COIL, the Commission of International Laborers.
Their last mission in Afghanistan had been particularly taxing. Each of Mac’s team nearly starved and froze to death before rescuing the two missionaries from al-Qaeda kidnappers. Mac and Russia were still recovering themselves, but their discipline and determination to help Sudkam was no less.
At the apartment, Mac and Russia packed to leave India. Their gear on this mission was minimal, compared to other missions. Normally, the men were suited up as soldiers of Special Forces, though they carried only non-lethal, tranquilizer carbines. They felt they couldn’t truly show the love of Christ if they were killing even the enemy.
The NL-3s fired water-soluble pellets, which contained a sleep toxin. The toxin had to be inhaled to drop an adversary for twenty minutes. Russia sometimes used the NL-X1 sniper rifle, from which high velocity tranquilizer darts were used, capable of a one-hour knockout.
Since India had been a last-minute side-job, they hadn’t had time to smuggle in their regular gear. Instead, this time they carried tranquilizer pens, capable of injecting five sleep toxin shots per pen. The team had used the pens around the world, while maintaining their covers as tourists or traveling geologists.
When the men were packed, they sat on the floor, ate ragi balls and dhal, and again reviewed a satellite image of the slums of Guruparahalli.
“Park here,” Mac said, pointing to a road he’d spotted earlier that was closer to the target shack. “I’ll be here, behind the shack. You go in the front. Expect six men. You’ll have your night vision so you can tranquilize them in the dark. Find Sudkam and put her in the pack on your back, then exit around the back to me. I’ll cover you.”
“I am worried about this,” Russia said as he pointed at a police station outside Guruparahalli. “I would like another route to the coast.”
“There aren’t any.” Mac cringed in dismay. “Let me call our contact. I’ll see if he can line up another vehicle. We can switch cars before we reach the station just in case someone calls us in. No telling who has cell phones nowadays.”
“That should do. The family will meet us at the freighter?”
“Right. Sponsors from South Africa are relocating them all. The office will set them up with proper papers.”
Russia sighed. He reached out his giant hand to rest it on Mac’s shoulder.
“There is only one thing left to do then, da?”
Both men bowed their heads in prayer.
“Our Lord God and Savior, we are humbled at the fact that You would use us for Your work. We come to You once again to ask for Your special protection on us as we seek to do Your will and to save Your children from harm.”
“Yes, Lord, and we are always so humbled at the strength and courage of these who are suffering for Your sake. You are often seen best in the darkness where so few stand by faith alone in Your Light. We ask you to especially protect Sudkam as we seek to rescue her. We ask these things in Your Son’s holy Name, Amen.”
Sudkam Digal knelt in the filth that had been her prison for five weeks. Welts from burns and beatings covered her body more than her thin gown, but the sores on her knees were her own doing. She’d spent most of those five weeks on her knees, praying.
Now, at what she was certain was the end of her time on earth, Sudkam refused to be found anywhere except on her knees. She no longer wept for herself. The tearful moisture seemed too precious for that. She did weep for her captors, however.
“Oh, Lord Jesus, I thank You for the life you’ve given me, and I pray that you use it in a way that brings honor to You. I pray You show these young men the love that You’ve shown to me. Though they are young and have shown me much brutality, I know You are able to penetrate their evil hearts, just as You have my own. I thank You that You have kept my spirit from breaking, for I know faith is not based on things of this earth, but on things above. You have died for these men, just as You have for me. Please help me to do no less and show them Your love.”
She prayed for the safety of her family as well. They’d had their own share of persecutions since they’d all claimed Christ as Savior. Her daughter had been forced to apply vermillion at school—the red-dot mark, symbolic of Hindu devotion—but after school every day, she rubbed it off. Her son’s feet had been broken when he refused to worship the image of Sai Baba, a Hindu god. Even her husband had been beaten and left for dead. But still, Sudkam loved.
In the night’s darkness, Sudkam fell over, too weak to hold herself in a kneeling position any longer. Her captors had fed her only scraps and she’d lost a quarter of her body weight. Two teeth were missing due to hateful blows. Sudkam could only begin to fathom their hatred when she thought of her Lord on the cross. She could suffer a little longer; Jesus had suffered for her.
Tilting her head, Sudkam heard the sound of scuffling feet and a panicked cry in the adjoining room where the youths slept. There was a muffled shout, the sound of furniture overturning, then silence. It wasn’t the first time the youths had fought, but their drinking and drug use had intensified over the past week.
Sudkam heard the door to her tiny room open. Expecting lamplight, Sudkam raised her face, but she saw only darkness. For an instant, it seemed as if she’d gone blind, but then a shadow moved before her and something touched her lightly, like a feather. She gasped and flinched from the touch. Someone was in her quarters.
“Are you Sudkam Digal?” a strange man’s voice quietly asked.
“Me Sudkam Digal,” she confirmed, thankful that she’d learned a little English during her youth at a mission in Karnataka.
“Come. I am here for you. Your family is waiting.”
The voice was strange, but the words were comforting. Sudkam didn’t resist the very large hands as they gripped her shoulders. The man moved her with ease. Gently, she was lifted from her mat and fit inside a rucksack that was tied over her head. She felt herself being lifted and jostled onto the man’s back. Then, Sudkam was carried out of her quarters and outside the shack where even she could smell the slum air. The bounce was soothing as the man walked swiftly away.
Crammed tightly but safely in the pack on the back of this stranger, Sudkam silently wept and prayed.
“Oh, my God, I thank You for answering my prayers and sending this angel for me. Please rescue those young men who abused me. I pray that You save their souls before it’s too late.”
The End of “Extraction: India”
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