Chris Lange, FISM News
An American missionary in Ukraine who was taken prisoner by Russian soldiers two weeks ago has been freed, according to his family. Dmitry Bodyu, 50, was released Monday following a shocking March 11 raid on his home during which 8 to 10 soldiers forcibly removed him from the residence.
Bodyu’s daughter, Esther Bodyu-Ogana, told NBC News the family is “relieved” that her father was released. She did not provide information about her father’s physical or emotional condition at the time of his release.
The family’s ordeal began when eight Russian soldiers entered their Melitopol home, asking the well-known, Ukrainian-speaking pastor of Word of Life Church in Melitopol if he was an American before forcing him from the residence, Bodyu’s wife, Helen, told NBC News last week.
“They came in, took our phones, [electronics and] took him somewhere – I don’t know where,” she said.
Bodyu-Ogawa told the news network that, upon entry, the soldiers had asked her father specifically if he was American, adding that they also seized his passport.
“We’re praying for him. And we’re praying that he’s strong,” she said. “They just took him against his will.”
Prior to his abduction, Bodyu had been inviting local residents to take shelter from the war at his church, according to a Christian Headlines report. His sermons can be viewed on the church’s Facebook page.
Bodyu’s capture followed the kidnapping of the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, by Russian soldiers. Fedorov was later freed in a prisoner swap with Russia, according to Reuters. It is not yet clear what prompted the Kremlin to effect Bodyu’s release.