After two months of living as hostages in Haiti, the 17 missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries are free. Now the details of their capture, confinement, and daring escape are coming to light.
In October, the group of long-term missionaries, which included a mother with her five children, was taken hostage by the notorious gang 400 Mawozo while on their way back from visiting an orphanage that the ministry supports.
Upon being kidnapped, the 17 were held in a small room of about 10 by 12 feet, which was not sufficiently large enough for everyone to lie down to sleep. The group was eventually given a larger space to occupy and were sometimes provided with fans, which helped to ease some of the discomfort of the Caribbean heat and humidity.
The group was reportedly allowed to go outside on a daily basis and received enough food to sustain them. While the adults received meager food portions and sometimes remained hungry, the children were given ample portions of age-appropriate nutrition. The group had enough water to drink, but developed sores from a lack of adequate water to bathe with in combination with untreated bug bites.
The gang threatened to kill the hostages if ransom was not paid.
On November 21, two hostages were released, followed by three more on December 3. The details surrounding those two releases have not been revealed. On the night of December 15, the remaining 12 hostages made their escape.
While in captivity, it was unknown how the missionaries were being treated. Those who know the former hostages have expressed relief that their living conditions were not worse.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Ron Marks, who serves as pastor of Hart Dunkard Brethren Church in Oceana County, Michigan, where some of the missionaries attend, said, “God has answered our prayers. We’re rejoicing and a great load is lifted.”
“They were treated relatively well,” Marks went on to say. “I’m still waiting to hear the rest of their story. I’m sure they weren’t treated supremely, life in Haiti is hard even at its best.”
In a press conference on Monday at the Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Berlin, OH, general director of Christian Aid Ministries David Troyer said, “All 17 members of Christian Aid Ministries…have been set free. This gives us great joy and thankfulness to God. Thank you for your prayers to that end.”
“All of the hostages seem to be doing reasonably well,” Troyer said. “I think we can honestly say that with gratitude. Their faith, their families, and their strong church communities, which rallied around them, helped them to come out of this ordeal as well as they did.”