Haitian abduction: Captured missionaries dared to escape, says Christian aid ministry

Berlin, OHIO – Missionaries captured in Haiti found their freedom last week by performing a daring nighttime prison break, evading their captors and hiking for miles over difficult terrain. , moonlit with an infant and other children accompanying them, according to the agency they work for, officials said Monday.

The group of 12 were navigated to safety by the stars after a two-month kidnapping ordeal, said officials from the Department of Christian Aid, the Ohio-based agency that the detained missionaries work for. work, said Monday at a news conference.

The detailed calculation of their journey to safety comes after news on Thursday that the missionaries had been released.

A total of 17 people from the mission team – 12 adults and 5 minors – were kidnapped on October 16 CAM said shortly after visiting an orphanage in Ganthier, in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, where they verified that it received aid from CAM and played with the children. The group consisted of 16 Americans and one Canadian.

Their captors from the original 400 Mawozo gang demanded millions of dollars in ransom. Five other previously arrested people have achieved their freedom. It is not yet clear whether any ransom has been paid.

CAM general manager David Troyer said CAM backers had raised funds so that the ransom could be used, but he declined to say if one would be paid for any releases.

CAM spokesman Weston Showalter said 12 people who ran away last week took the infant and 3-year-old, wrapping them around the child to protect him from protests and violence.

“After some hours of walking, it started to dawn and they finally found someone who helped to call for help,” he said, his voice beginning to choke. “They were finally free.”

Twelve people were flown to Florida on a US Coast Guard flight, and later reunited with five previously released hostages.

CAM displayed photos at press conferences showing the freed hostages being reunited, along with a video of the group singing a song that inspired them during their captivity.

The missionaries were taken hostage on their way back from the orphanage on the afternoon of October 16.

“They don’t know what lies ahead,” Showalter said. Just five or 10 minutes into the process, they saw a roadblock ahead. The group’s driver – a Canadian from the group – turned around, but a pickup truck chased them, and “gang members surrounded the truck,” said CAM spokesman Weston Showalter said. He said initial reports that the driver was a Haitian citizen were incorrect.

He said they were initially crammed into a small room in a house, but were moved around several times during their confinement.

Showalter said they were not physically harmed by the kidnappers. He said the main physical challenges include the heat, mosquitoes and contaminated water for bathing, leaving some of them with sores. Sometimes young children get sick.

However, he said people appear to have come out of confinement in good health.

The adults received small portions of food, such as rice and beans, for dinner, although captors provided plenty of food suitable for young children, he said.

The hostages gather several times a day for prayers and religious devotion, and sometimes sing loudly enough for each other when they are in separate rooms, Showalter said.

They also seek to encourage other hostages being held for ransom in separate kidnappings, Showalter said.

Over time, the hostages agreed to find a way to escape and chose the night of December 15 to escape.

“When they knew the time had come, they managed to open the closed and blocked door, quietly went to their chosen path and quickly left the place of detention, despite the fact that there were many guards. . nearby,” said Showalter.

Headquartered in Berlin, Ohio, CAM is supported and staffed by conservative Anabaptists, a wide range of Mennonites, Amish and related groups characterized by non-badass, dress code simple and isolated from mainstream society.

None of the freed hostages were present at the press conference. They come from Amish, Mennonite and other Anabaptist communities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, according to CAM.

After the press conference, a group of CAM staffers stood and sang, “Nearer My God to Thee” in a powerful four-part acapella harmony, a sign of conservative Anabaptist adoration.


Associated Press religious coverage supported by Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US AP is solely responsible for this content.

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