For six days, residents of the small town of Midland City, Ala., could do nothing but pray for the 5-year-old boy taken hostage--and nothing could have proved more powerful.
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On Monday evening, after nearly a week of negotiations and citywide nightly prayer vigils, officers decided it was time to end the hostage drama that captured national media attention. Ethan, the young boy snatched by 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes from a school bus on Jan. 29 and held captive in an underground bunker, was in imminent danger, officials decided, and it was time to move.
Officers stormed the bunker, killed the boy's captor, who authorities say was armed and threatening the Kindergartener at the time, and rescued the boy, reuniting him with his mother.
The hostage drama, and its resolution, prompted an outpouring of faith even mainstream media outlets couldn't ignore or dismiss. During a press briefing after the rescue, the local sheriff credited God with bringing Ethan home safely.
"This boy is a very special child," said Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson Monday night. "He's been through and endured a lot, and by the grace of God, he's OK. That was the mission of every man and woman on this compound. Of every law enforcement officer, every first responder, and all of the community who prayed to bring him home safely."
Shortly before officers rescued the boy, Melissa Knighton, city clerk, said a woman had been praying in the town center.
"She must have had a direct line to God because shortly after she left, they heard the news," Knighton said--Dykes was dead and the boy, who has only been identified by his first name, was safe.
Steve Richardson of the Mobile FBI office said he had been to the hospital to see the boy and that he appeared to be OK, laughing, joking, eating, and "doing the things you'd expect a normal 5- or 6-year-old to do."
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SOURCE: WORLD Mag