Christians pray, fast for release of missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA

Rebuilding project in Haiti / Christian Aid Ministries

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

The ringleader behind the kidnappings of 17 missionaries in Haiti has threatened to kill the hostages unless he received his demands, in a video posted online on Thursday. Meanwhile, the group that organized the mission trip has called for prayer and fasting for the missionaries’ safe release.

The group of missionaries and family members with the Ohio-based group Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped by the gang 400 Mazowo on Saturday, Oct. 16, when they were working at an orphanage in Haiti.

Christian Aid Ministries on Thursday requested that people pray not only for the hostages, but for their families, the government, and for the kidnappers themselves. The group encouraged people to pray and fast for the safe return of the hostages.

“Pray for the kidnappers—that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to Him. We see that as their ultimate need,” the group said in a statement posted on its website.

Those kidnapped “are from Amish, Mennonite, and other Anabaptist communities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada,” and are continuing “to support each other with prayers and encouragement during this difficult time,” the group said.

The hostages range in age from 8 months to 48 years. Of the 17 hostages, all but one are American citizens; the other is Canadian.

“Pray for government leaders and authorities—as they relate to the case and work toward the release of the hostages,” Christian Aid Ministries said. “We appreciate the ongoing work and assistance of those knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with kidnapping cases.”

On Thursday, the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang released a video saying that he would kill the hostages if his demands were not met. The gang is requesting a $1 million ransom for each hostage.

“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” said Wilson Joseph in a video published on social media. According to Reuters, a senior U.S. State Department official said the video appeared to be legitimate.

Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement that it would not comment on the video “until those directly involved in obtaining the release of the hostages have determined that comments will not jeopardize the safety and well-being of our staff and family members.”

The 400 Mawozo gang responsible for the most recent kidnapping is the same criminal gang behind the April 2021 kidnapping of Catholic priests and religious in Haiti. All of those kidnapped in April were released within several weeks; ransom was paid for just two of the kidnapped priests, according to a Haitian official.

In a statement on Friday, Christian Aid Ministries said that six days after the kidnapping, the families of the victims “face uncertainty. They long for the return of their loved ones.”

The group also explained why the missionaries chose to serve in Haiti. Kidnappings and acts of violence have become common in the country, with the country’s president Jovenel Moïse assassinated at his home in July.

“You may wonder why our workers chose to live in a difficult and dangerous context, despite the apparent risks. Before leaving for Haiti, our workers who are now being held hostage expressed a desire to faithfully serve God in Haiti,” the statement read.

The website of Christian Aid Ministries states that it serves as a “channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals” to provide aid to those in need around the world.

It supports aid and anti-poverty efforts in countries such as Haiti and Kazakhstan, but also promotes billboard evangelism in the United States and advertises assistance for any conscientious objectors in the event of a U.S military draft.

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