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Local Pastor prays for safe return of missing journalist Austin Tice

San Antonio pastor prays for safe return of Austin Tice.
Courtesy of Austin Tice's family.

SAN ANTONIO-- Neil Bennett has served as Pastor at Churchill Baptist Church for 11 years, recently he's asked his congregation to remember and pray for his second cousin Austin Tice. On August 13, 2012, two days after Austin's 31st birthday family members lost contact with him. Austin was in Syria working as a freelance journalist.

"Since that time there's been very little word from Austin," said Bennett. "The Syrian government denies any knowledge of his whereabouts of course there's so many groups fighting over there now it's just impossible to know who might have him at this time, but we are praying for his speedy release and his family is holding out hope that he is still alive and that one day he will return home."

With ongoing U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq two Americans were recently killed. The latest was Journalist Steven Sotloff who went missing last August.

The Tice family keeps a website as they wait for Austin's safe return home. Today his parents released a statement regarding the news of Sotloff.

"Our hearts are breaking with the terrible news of Steven's death. We are praying for comfort and strength for the Sotloff family. Out of respect for their privacy, we have no further comment at this time," wrote Marc and Debra Tice.

Austin's immediate family lives in the Houston area. Recently a church there held a vigil to pray for Austin's safe return home.

"Even though we don't know where Austin is we believe that God knows exactly where Austin is," said Bennett. "I think of him everyday, I pray for him every day."