Saratov, Russia, winter, 1998. Two young missionaries serving for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lay bound, gagged, and blindfolded in a frigid little room. They had no idea where they were or who had taken them. They only knew that two men were talking about ransom – and about killing them.
It started as an ordinary Sunday for Elder Travis Tuttle of Arizona and Elder Andrew Propst of Oregon. They had just left church services when a young man approached, introduced himself as Nikolai, and asked if they would teach his friend about their beliefs. The elders readily agreed; they didn’t have many opportunities to talk about Jesus Christ, and no one approached missionaries in Russia to learn about their gospel message.
It should have raised a red flag.
When the missionaries knocked on Nikolai’s door their lives changed forever. They were yanked into the apartment, beaten, handcuffed, blindfolded, and tied up. Soon they were stuffed into the trunk of a little car, and driven to another location.
Thus began the longest five days the elders had ever known. They thought about the ransom demand for $300,000. “Nobody’s going to pay for us; you know how this works,” said Elder Propst. “We’re alone, and nobody knows where we are.” It didn’t take long for the elders to start seriously thinking about dying. “I had no hope of ever walking out of there alive,” said Elder Tuttle.
They talked and cried about their lives back home, about their families and friends. They talked about why they had decided to become missionaries. They tried to convince the two Russians not to hurt them. They prayed continually. And soon they began to talk about escaping. Their final plan involved hurting, maybe even killing one of their captors. It seemed like the only way they would survive. Could they do it?
Please join us for an inspiring evening with Travis Tuttle, one of the Saratov missionaries, as he talks about his harrowing experiences, and how he and Elder Propst finally came to a profound spiritual realization of God’s love for them – and for their captors. Travis will also answer questions and show a clip from the recent, nationally-released movie, The Saratov Approach.
This family-friendly event will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Summerwood LDS Stake Meetinghouse, 14350 N. Sam Houston Pkwy E. Houston, 77044. Admission is free.