The 17 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti are now all doing “reasonably well” and have left the troubled Caribbean nation where they spent each day of their captivity praying, singing and calling on their kidnappers to repent, said David Troyer, general director of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, on Friday.
“A U.S.-flagged plane left Haiti with the remaining freed hostages yesterday afternoon.
Everyone, including the 10-month-old baby, the 3-year-old and the 6-year-old boys, seem to be doing reasonably well,” Troyer revealed in a statement formally confirming the release of all the missionaries who were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16.
The international charity first announced the release of the final 12 missionaries 11 days after the release of three others on Dec. 5. Some two weeks prior to that, the gang released two missionaries described as sick adults.
Troyer, who took the opportunity to thank a long list of supporters during the two monthslong hostage crisis, did not say whether a ransom of $1 million for each missionary was paid to the gang for their release, but he said the group forgives them.
“We do not know all of the challenges you face. We do believe that violence and oppression of others can never be justified. You caused our hostages and their families a lot of suffering. However, Jesus taught us by word and by His own example that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violent force. Therefore, we extend forgiveness to you. The hostages told you plainly how you can also be forgiven by God, if you repent,” Troyer said, choking up. “Our desire is that you and all who hear or read this statement may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Son of God, and the Prince of Peace. Jesus died for all so that all can be saved.”
He further explained that on Oct. 16, when the missionaries realized that they were being kidnapped after leaving an orphanage where they had gone to verify aid was received from the charity, “the group began singing the chorus, ’The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them,’ based on Psalm 34:7” and it became one of their favorite anthems during their captivity.
Troyer said the missionaries also spent much of their time together during their captivity and prayed for the gang, among other things.
“The hostages were able to spend their captivity together as a group. They spent many hours of each day praying, singing and encouraging each other. Unfortunately, they did not have a Bible, but they recited Bible verses by memory among themselves. They prayed for their captors and told them about God’s love and their need to repent,” he said, asking for continued prayers for the missionaries as they return to normal life.
In discussing best practices learned from the kidnapping of the missionaries, which included 16 Americans and one Canadian, Troyer acknowledged that while all the missionaries were aware of the dangers of working in Haiti before, and tried to take “proper security precautions,” they intend to improve their security protocols.
“We appreciate the desire of our staff to minister, even in dangerous places. However, this event has given us a heightened awareness of the need to strengthen our safety protocols and better instruct our people about the dangers involved,” Troyer explained.
He asked the media to give the missionaries privacy as they return to normal life and noted that a press conference will be held at the headquarters of Christian Aid Ministries in Berlin, Ohio, at 10 a.m. on Dec. 20, where more information will be provided.