When I heard that 17 Christian missionaries were kidnapped by a Haitian gang a little over a week ago, I prayed it wasn’t true. It initially reminded me of one of my “Missing in Action” films, in which my character, Col. James Braddock, traveled to a foreign land to rescue those abducted. But this was no movie. It was tragically real life.
The kidnapped missionary group includes 16 Americans and one Canadian, five of whom are children. The adults comprise six men and six women, ranging from 18 to 48 years old. The ages of the children are 8 months, 3 years, 6 years, 13 years and 15 years.
According to the Washington Post, “They come from Amish, Mennonite and Anabaptist communities in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Oregon, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the Canadian province of Ontario.”
They were all in Haiti working with the Ohio-based group Christian Aid Ministries (CAM).
They were kidnapped near the capital, Port-au-Prince, on their way back from visiting an orphanage on Sat., October 16.
“This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” the Ohio group said Tuesday, adding that the missionaries worked most recently on a project to help rebuild homes lost in a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck southwestern Haiti on Aug. 14.
The criminal gang behind the kidnapping, 400 Mawozo, has demanded $17 million for their release, $1 million for each of the captives.
Reuters explained the gang’s name: “The 400 Mawozo, a self-mocking name that loosely translates to ‘400 idiots,’ … Internet videos purport to show members of 400 Mawozo in gun battles with police or offering long-winded commentary by [members] who celebrate their conquests and spurn rivals.”
ABC News reported, “Haiti has the highest kidnapping rate per capita in the world, and 400 Mawozo members are believed to have been responsible for kidnapping 10 French missionaries [nuns and priests] in April of this year, who were released after 20 days.” A few who were kidnapped last April explained to ABC the cruelty they experienced while in captivity.
The Associated Press explained that this recent missionary kidnapping was different than others because it involves multiple children, and “the kidnapping was the largest of its kind reported in recent years. Haitian gangs have grown more brazen as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people.”
As far as the U.S. federal government’s response, the Washington Post reported, “Representatives of the State Department and the FBI are in Haiti trying to secure the release of the group, U.S. officials said this week, and President Biden has been receiving regular briefings on their efforts. The United States has a policy of not paying ransoms for hostages.”
“We have been working closely with the Haitian national police to try to build their capacity, as well as help put in place programs that can effectively deal with the gangs,” deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday. “But it’s a very challenging and long-term process. … It is absolutely essential that this security dynamic change.”
I certainly hope Mr. Biden himself lights a fire to secure the missionaries’ release soon. Thirteen courageous U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan through a botched retreat from the war-torn country. Does the Biden administration really want 17 dead missionaries on its legacy ledger as well?
This last Thursday, the criminal head of 400 Mawozo released a video in which he threatened to personally execute all the kidnapped missionaries if the $17 million ransom was not met soon, though he didn’t give a deadline date when he would do so.
I don’t need to know anything more about those Caribbean thugs. One thing I do know is that U.S. and Haiti officials need to join together to put the “400 idiots” out of business for good, if you know what I mean! What has the world come to, and how twisted is it, that these thugs go after clerical groups, the kindest of souls doing God’s work in that crippled country?
As one last bizarre absurdity and abominable mockery, the ludicrous head of this gang was wearing a large golden cross on a chain in the video he made threatening the missionaries’ executions. A symbol of the cross of Jesus on the neck of a violent and brutal mass abductor and murderer who targets nuns and priests? He surely needs the forgiveness and peace of the real Jesus!
Toward that end, last Thursday, Christian Aid Ministries called on Christians and churches everywhere to join them for a day of prayer and fasting for the kidnapped missionaries. A spokesman read a letter from the families of the hostages.
“We thank Him that He is God, and ask Him to hear our prayers and bring our families home,” spokesman Weston Showalter read. “We also pray that the light of God’s love might shine out against the darkness of sin, that the gang members might be freed from their bondage to sin and experience freedom in Jesus Christ.”
My wife, Gena, and I would entreat all my readers to pray for the protection and safe return of these 17 children of God. You might even want to contact the White House to tell them to get the lead out.
If you want to encourage the families of those kidnapped, Christian Aid Ministries has a way to do that, on its website:
Would you like to encourage family members of the hostages?
- Day after day, families of those held hostage face uncertainty. They long for the return of their loved ones. While we are unable to disclose the personal information of family members, we would like to create a channel through which people can bless them.
- Following are some ways you may wish to encourage them:
- Words of encouragement and Bible verses to lift them up during this difficult time. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11).
- Written prayers we can share with the families. In this time of distress and tension, they find comfort in prayers written by others. We strongly believe prayers lifted to God’s throne in the name of Jesus are powerful. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
- Personal stories of God’s faithfulness to you in times of great difficulty. This would no doubt be a great encouragement to the families of the hostages.
You may send your messages for the families to [email protected]. Encouraging words and uplifting prayers will be forwarded to the families. It would be of interest to the families to know the state or country of the person writing.
To follow the plight and, prayerfully, freedom of these 17 beloved missionaries, please check the “Update on Haiti Kidnapping” on the Christian Aid Ministries website.
God, please bless, protect, strengthen and deliver those precious souls from their captors, and use any and all who could accomplish their rescue. And while you’re at it, send in some avenging angels to stop this gang from continuing its barbaric crime spree. Amen!
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