I am pleased to announce the completion of my first book, A Pastoral Letter to the Captives, and other works, an anthology of historical hostage accounts from the late 17th century, the peak of the Barbary Pirate era. It includes a Foreword from our Chaplain, Pastor Ed Boston of Do the Right Thing and co-host of the Pray for the Hostages daily radio show. It will be available in May from Exagorazo Press, the publishing division of the As A Matter of Faith online ministry.
In this book I present letters and reports from the late 1600's, but the parallels to the modern piracy crisis are striking. Here is an excerpt from the Preface:
Imagine the scene: the crew of an unarmed merchant ship looks on in horror as their vessel is approached and boarded by a gang of pirates, guns blazing. The pirates herd their human cargo into smaller boats and head for shore, where the crew members will languish in slavery while they await rescue or ransom or death.
This was a common scene 300 years ago, when the Barbary Pirates ruled the seas, and it is a scene that has changed little in the past three centuries. Where ships once dreaded passing through the Straits of Gibraltar from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, modern mariners now face a similar situation in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, vital waterways for vessels traveling between Asia and Europe and North America.
In the late 1600s, Moroccan King Moulay Ismail oversaw a reign of terror that included the abduction of more than 25,000 Europeans, mostly unarmed merchant seamen, who were then used as slaves to build his new capital city, Meknes. Today's pirates are not necessarily state-sponsored, as were the Barbary Pirates, but are rapidly approaching that status as they funnel money from ransom payments into armed insurgencies in weak states like Somalia.
In this book, we present hostage accounts from the late 17th century, including the story of an arduous escape from Moulay Ismail's brutal captivity. We also see the encouraging letter American preacher Cotton Mather wrote to a group of captured New England seamen, and the joyful sermon he preached to celebrate their release five years later. Although the hostage narratives describe the horror and desperation of this terrible condition, they also speak of the strong faith that enabled the captives to survive their ordeal. It is this hope and faith that we wish to emphasize, particularly the power of prayer to sustain the hostages and to bring them their eventual deliverance.
For more information, check out our Facebook group or visit the blog. We are now taking preorders at the As A Matter of Faith website. While you are there, you can also sign up to be on our mailing list for future announcements. I hope you will check it out soon!