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