MINOT, ND—Unemployed factory worker James Harold Gurshner told reporters Monday that God's plan for him, revealed during a moment of divine inspiration, requires kidnapping Ford Motor Company CEO William Ford Jr.
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," said Gurshner, talking to reporters through a metal grate screwed over the window of his dilapidated, hubcap-covered house. "And right now, the Lord is working through me. I didn't choose this path, but if you're called upon, you must look into your heart and make a decision. I have chosen to heed the Lord's command."
Gurshner said he does not know why God "came to [him] in a dream" and asked him to kidnap Ford, but he said he believes that "it is best not to question His motives."
"I didn't question the Lord when He struck down my beloved wife Emily with cervical cancer," Gurshner said. "I didn't question Him when I was dismissed from my job and put on Social Security. I didn't question Him when He commanded me to dig a three-foot ditch around my house and fill it with charcoal briquettes, and I don't question him now. I, James Harold Gurshner, will kidnap the Ford CEO, as that is the will of the Lord."
"Amen," Gurshner added.
Gurshner said he would prefer to kidnap the man who runs the auto-supply store, or simply volunteer at the local soup kitchen, but nonetheless, he is determined to complete the Lord's task.
"The Lord would not have picked me to carry out His will if He didn't think I could do it," Gurshner said. "He'll probably help me along, though. Just like the time I found a perfectly good chair on the side of the road two days after I burned all of my furniture for Jesus. God will provide for those who do His will."
Although he does not have a specific kidnapping plan, Gurshner said he is confident that he will succeed.
"I've been thinking on ways to get that Ford guy the whole time I've been cleaning out the aluminum shed out back," Gurshner said. "That's where I'll store him. I won't keep the CEO tied up and gagged in a dirty place. The Lord wants me to make him feel comfortable."
Although Gurshner refuses to question God's will, he has a few theories about the Heavenly Father's motives.
"The Lord may want to enact retribution for all the people who died in cars, like my daddy did when I was 7," Gurshner said. "But unless the Lord directly tells me to torture Ford, or beat him, I won't. One thing I will not do is make love to the Ford CEO's asshole, no matter what the Lord says. That activity is a sin against nature. An order to do it would be God's way of testing me."
Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Gurshner said he "got the true calling" in 1998, when God commanded him to kill a stray dog that wouldn't stop barking during the night.
"I saw a bright light and knew in a flash what He wanted," said Gurshner, who explained that God's messages are often paired with staggering migraine headaches. "It wasn't until I put a shovel through that dog's head that God was satisfied and the messages finally stopped."
Gurshner said God usually sends him messages through Bible passages, particularly those found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Sometimes, however, the messages appear on Hardee's billboards or in Kenny Chesney song lyrics.
"I never know what God's next message will be or when I will get it—all I can do is obey," Gurshner said. "It's like when God told me to start collecting plastic laundry-soap bottles a few years back. I still don't know what they're for, but until God reveals His reasons, I'll keep storing them in my living room."
Residents of Minot are well-acquainted with Gurshner's relationship with God.
"Everybody has heard all about Jim's direct line to the Lord," said Officer Nathan Randell of the Minot Police Department. "We try to leave him alone whenever we can. Most people in town feel sorry for him. All that tragedy shouldn't happen to one man. But when Jim gets really riled up, we have to go talk him down, or sometimes even lock him up for a night. He'll tell us that blaring religious hymns from his car stereo on Main Street at 3 a.m. is part of God's plan, but I guess we have to go against His wishes every once and a while."
Ford declined to comment on the Lord's plan.