Two months ago, workers from the Holmes County-based Christian Aid Ministries visited an orphanage in Haiti to provide aid. They had an enjoyable time there playing with the children, according to a post at christianaidministries.org.
A short time after leaving the orphanage, they were taken.
Subsequently, seventeen staff members were held hostage for weeks by the 400 Mawozo gang.
When they were captured and became aware of what was happening, the group began to pray and they began to sing the chorus: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them,” based on Psalm 34:7.
“This song became a favorite of theirs, and they sang it many times throughout their days of captivity,” according to a post on the Christian Aid ministries website.
According to posts dated Dec. 16 and 17 and in a video featuring David Troyer, general director of Christian Aid Ministries, all 17 staff members that had been held hostage have been returned safely. A U.S.-flagged plane left Haiti this week with the remaining freed hostages.
“The Hostages are Free!” reads a headline as soon as one visits christianaidministries.org.
CAM has been providing updates on its website throughout the past two months asking for prayers and also announcing when two and then three more of the hostages were released over the past few weeks. The final 12 were released this week. The updates provide some details about the hostages’ ordeal.
“The hostages were able to spend their captivity together as a group,” the website states. “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.
Although we are deeply relieved and rejoice greatly that the hostages are free at last, we realize their journey back to normal life has only begun. They and their families need your continued prayers, support, and encouragement.”
The website asks for space and privacy as the freed hostages and families recover and try to resume their lives.
A press conference is planned at the Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Berlin at 10 a.m. Monday.
“Everyone, including the 10-month-old baby, the 3-year-old boy, and the 6-year-old boy, seem to be doing reasonably well,” the website continues. The post lists several that Christian Aid Ministries would like to thank: Almighty God, families of the hostages, multitudes of people worldwide “who prayed, who cared, who wept with us, and who sent notes of encouragement to the families of the hostages,” the U.S. government and others who assisted in the safe return, the news media for being “courteous, patient and understanding,” the Haitian people “who have expressed their regret for this incident and offered their prayer sand words of encouragement to us,” supporters and staff members and associates of Christian Aid Ministries.
The post thanked those who assisted in the safe return for understanding the organization’s “desire to pursue non-violent approaches” and noted CAM desires to continue to work with the Haitian people in the future.
The post ends with “a word to the kidnappers” which includes in part: “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.”
Christian Aid Ministries, headquartered in Millersburg, has operated various programs in Haiti for 30 years to help poor children go to school, deliver medicine, supply Bibles, oversee rebuilding of homes and organize projects building infrastructure and offering employment. The organization notes that workers are aware of the dangers in these places but that’s where the biggest needs often are.