On Saturday night, an 8-year-old Fort Worth, Texas girl was allegedly abducted by a 51-year-old man while she was walking with her mother, prompting a frantic and massive search by police, but it was a pastor who later said “divine intervention” helped him who tracked the girl down and helped saved her.
At roughly 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, eight-year-old Salem Sabatka was walking with her mother when a man later identified as Michael Webb allegedly seized the girl and shoved her into his car as the mother tried to jump into the car to save her daughter. According to NBC News in Dallas/Fort Worth, “A neighbor’s doorbell camera captured the moment the child’s mother was thrown from the car.” The mother called 911, crying, “Help me please, someone call the police, my daughter just got kidnapped.”
At 10 p.m., an Amber Alert was issued, but despite the combined efforts of local police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Homeland Security, the girl was not found. Meanwhile, Jeff King, pastor at Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, found out through a friend what had occurred. He recalled later, “I was sitting at home with my wife when a friend texted and said that our friends’ daughter had been kidnapped. All I could think is what are we going to do to help?”
Joined by a friend, King started his search. He said, “We were told by detectives at the scene that the best places to check are hotels, apartments and parks.” Around midnight the two men received a tip that they should check out a Forest Hill hotel, but when they arrived they found nothing. Meanwhile, according to NBC News, police had actually gone to Webb’s room at the Wood Springs Suites hotel, spoken to him through the door and “made visual inspection of the areas of the room that appeared to be large enough to conceal the missing child,” but found nothing.
After leaving the Forest Hill hotel, something prompted King to check out the Wood Springs Suites hotel, which was nearby. By this time it was nearing 2 a.m. King said, “We started looking at different cars like they were suggesting. We saw one car and were like, ‘It’s got to be this car.'” That prompted King to call police, who arrived and rescued the girl. Once King heard she was safe, he still couldn’t believe it. He recalled, “It was a crazy moment. I asked police, ‘Did I hear that right? Did they find her? Is she safe?’ Then finally one officer said, ‘Yes sir, they have her.’”
Police permitted King to inform Salem’s parents that she was safe. King said he felt God had directed him, saying quietly, “God literally led us to this place. It was not on my itinerary; I was not trying to go there; we just drove by. It was divine intervention, 100 percent.”
Salem’s grandmother said simply, “It is utterly amazing how many people came out to help. It really makes you aware that there are a lot of good people out there.”