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Sondra reading the "Hope for Hollywood" article to two body painters in Hollywood

The following account appeared in "Hope for Hollywood" Magazine, Volume 1, Copy 201

The Amazing Power of Forgiveness

-Interviewed by David Bruce 

"As I went to the market that evening I never dreamed I would be kidnapped, raped and  nearly burned alive." 

Sondra Berry Young, a Christian  minister and  mother of two young children had just gone to the  local  supermarket  for  some strawberry  ice  cream,  bread  and milk. In doing so she entered into an incredible adventure of overcoming unimaginable terror through what a superior court judge would later call "her absolute faith in God" and "her extraordinary character." 
"While I was putting my groceries into my car", recounts Sondra, "I saw a blondish haired man approach the rear of my car. With a motion of his hand he said, 'don't say anything or scream just get into your car!' At the time he was about three feet away, so I started to move away.  Suddenly, I was taken from behind by a second man, a Latino, who stuck a knife in my side. Immediately, I said, 'The blood of Jesus is against you!' And they said "We know that." 
Sondra says she was then forced into her own car between the two men while a knife was first held at her side and then across her throat. Police who later identified the two men who had been charged with 27 violent crimes during the past 2 1/2 years They were known by  police  for  their  many  violent crimes.  One was married  to a beautiful wife. 
Sondra  continues,  "They  said they were going to take me up to the mountains and offer me as a sacrifice. 'We are going to murder you.' they told me. 'You have the wrong person,' I said. They told me they knew who I was and I was just the one they wanted. I said, 'You can not take my life in Jesus' name!'  To which  they  replied,  'We will see about that!' 
"I kept demanding that they pull over and let me go, that I was a mother and my family would certainly be looking for me! To which one said, 'Let's kill her now!' the other replied, 'OK, but  not now.' And with the knife still against my throat I spoke forth a verse from the Bible, 'No weapon that is formed against me can prosper.'  Interestingly enough they again said they knew that! 
"Although it was hard collecting my thoughts with that painful sharp blade pushing against my skin I said, 'I'm gonna pray for you guys!' I started  praying out  loud. One of the men demanded I shut up! But the other let me go on. 
"Finally, high on a hill overlooking the whole city they pulled off the road. They demanded that I get out of the car and disrobe. I absolutely refused. One fellow jabbed the knife into me again forcing me to immediately get out of the car and proceeded to rape me. 
"For the next two hours I was violently assaulted and sexually abused  in every way imaginable.  The gravel on the hard ground tore into the skin of my back and made my knees bloody. The knife was held on me the whole time. Over and over my life was threatened saying, 'Let's kill her now.' Despite the overwhelming  physical pain and immense psychological torture I knew no fear. It was as if it was not happening at all. God was with me. 
"They put me on the hood of my car for more degrading abuse. My neck received a horrid cramp. The pain was unbearable. I could take no more! 
"'God is in me,' I screamed. 'And when you do this to me you do it to God!' That did it. For the first time they backed off. The whole time I told them to let me go but now they were listening. 
"We negotiated. They agreed to take me back to the market and in exchange for my life I would cash a check and give them my money. In the car on the way back they held me down at knife point. Silently I prayed, 'Please God, send the police. 
"Suddenly one of the men realized  that their fingerprints were all over the car. Up until then he had been the less aggressive of the two by always saying 'later'  when  the other would say 'let's kill her, now!' 
"'We're going to set you and the car on fire because there are just too many fingerprints.' 
"I could take no more- I whispered a silent prayer 'Lord send the police quickly.' As we turned the corner I saw a car. It began to follow us. Was it the police?  Would they pull us over?  Suddenly I sat up. The men became frightened and said  they had a 45 and would blow my head off if I told what they had done to me. One put his knife against me so severely that I thought he was going to cut my limbs off. 
"A bright light filled the car. It was the police. The loud police speaker said, 'Driver put your hands out of the car window.' He did so.  'Reach outside and open the door and walk slowly to the rear of the car.' And he did. 
"I was, at last, free! Quickly I picked up the knife, opened the door and ran toward the police, and screamed, 'They kidnapped me!' 

"How grateful I was! God had answered my prayer. By God's grace I had been saved. 
"As they moved in to have a better look at the driver I heard a policeman say 'Well look who we have here!' The police knew him well due to his record of violent crimes. Later I heard him scream in pain. I looked around and saw him handcuffed rolling in pain on the ground!  Even  then,  in my heart  I could forgive them for the evil they had done to me." 
Because Sondra forgave them when she did God began to accomplish one miracle after another. 
For example, at the hospital the attending nurse said she had never seen anyone in such good emotional shape after rape. She was amazed that Sondra was not in shock and could talk about everything that had happened. Sondra did not suffer the shame or fear or emotional trauma that most rape victims feel. 

The police noted with amazement her stable emotional condition. In fact, just two hours later she took police back to the mountains to retrieve the evidence which convicted them. 
The  local  newspaper published Sondra's testimonial letter of her forgiveness and her thankfulness to "God who sees every situation and reaches out to us  in our hour of need!" 
Finally Superior Court Judge Gilbert Alston, who sentenced the men to 15 years plus life said, "she was practically unscathed by what otherwise would have been a terrifying experience" due toher "absolute faith in God." 
Sondra is thankful that God used her to get the perpetrators off the street before they could commit more violent crimes against other innocent people. The police said the next victim  probably  would  have been  murdered.  Even though she forgave them she knew she had to testify against them because of their continuing vicious acts against society. 

Sondra says anyone can learn to forgive by looking to Jesus. "After all he was bound, spit on, beaten, publicly stripped, crucified and stabbed. And yet he could say, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."


©2003 Sondra Berry Young Ministries
P.O. Box 92802• Pasadena, California 91109
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