Prayer vigil for hostages Sunday.

October 21, 2021

Prayer vigil for hostages Sunday.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — Local church pastors have organized a prayer vigil set for Sunday, Oct. 24, at 5 p.m. at the Hart Commons to pray for the safe return of the kidnapping victims in Haiti.

A family from the southern Shelby area that belongs to the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church is among the missionaries taken hostage. The mother and four children were taken hostage, said Hart Mayor Vicki Platt. The father, who is in Haiti, was back at the missionary camp at the time of the kidnapping, Platt said. He stayed back from the group’s trip to an orphanage because was writing a sermon for the next day’s service, she said.

“The mother and four kids were surrounded and kidnapped, and the father was at the camp writing his sermon for Sunday,” Platt said. She said that she cannot release the family’s name right now.

Many families in Oceana County perform Christian missionary work. “Every person who has been touched by someone who has been on a missionary is going through extreme sadness and shock.” She said there has been an “outpouring of love from the community.”

A service at the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church on 56th Avenue is slated to follow Sunday’s prayer vigil.

The gang that snatched 17 members of an Ohio-based missionary group has demanded $17 million — $1 million per person — in ransom. The ages of the abducted children — four of whom are from Oceana County — are 8 months and 3, 6, 13 and 15 years. The adults include six men and six women up to the age of 48.

The hostages had visited an orphanage in the Croix-des-Bouquets suburb prior to their abduction. They are being held in a location outside that suburb, which is controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang that captured them.

Pastor Ron Marks of Hart Dunkard Brethren Church said the family left for Haiti in early October and was expecting to stay for a few more months.

The Christian missionaries were snatched Saturday, Oct. 16, near Port-Au-Prince, the capital of a country where kidnappings have become increasingly common. The 400 Mawozo gang is known for kidnappings, extortion and killings.

The gang took the group of 16 US citizens and one Canadian traveling in a sprinter-type van after a trip to the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage.

The ministries organization was founded in 1981 and works with Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist groups to “minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

“This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” states “Their heart-felt desire is to share the love of Jesus. Before the kidnapping, their work throughout Haiti included supporting thousands of needy school children, distributing Bibles and Christian literature, supplying medicines for numerous clinics, teaching Haitian pastors, and providing food for the elderly and vulnerable. In recent months, they were actively involved in coordinating a rebuilding project for those who lost their homes in the August 2021 earthquake. When kidnapped, the group was returning from a visit to an orphanage that receives support from Christian Aid Ministries.”

The organization posted the following statement on its website Thursday, Oct. 21:

“Today, Christian Aid Ministries associates in the United States, Canada, and other countries are observing a special day of prayer and fasting. We invite believers around the world to join us. We would also like to relate to you a message that family members of the hostages want to share with the world:

Dear Church of Christ around the world,

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of our family members who are being held hostage in Haiti. God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to, ‘love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.’ (Matthew 5:44). God invites us to call upon His name in the day of trouble. (Psalm 50:15) We thank Him that He is God, and ask Him to hear our prayers and bring our families home.

We also pray that the light of God’s love might shine out into the darkness of sin, and that the gang members might be freed from their bondage to sin and experience freedom in Jesus Christ. 

Thank you, brothers and sisters in Christ, and PLEASE keep praying!

The families of the hostages

These families are from Amish, Mennonite, and other Anabaptist communities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada.  They continue to support each other with prayers and encouragement during this difficult time. Times of difficulty have a way of bringing people together. Pray for these families.

We will mention a few other specific things to pray for on this special day of prayer and fasting.

  • Pray for the hostages — for their release, that they could endure faithfully, and that they would display Christlike love. Jesus, when nailed to the cross, said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’

  • Pray for the kidnappers — that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to Him. We see that as their ultimate need.

  • Pray for government leaders and authorities — as they relate to the case and work toward the release of the hostages. We appreciate the ongoing work and assistance of those knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with kidnapping cases.

Thank you for your prayers. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support during this difficult time. God bless you.”

The US government, which has a policy not to negotiate with ransom demands for hostages, is working with authorities in Haiti to get the missionaries released. The US has had a level-four travel advisory against travel to Haiti since August due to the risk of kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and COVID-19.

Haiti has faced upheaval since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by gunmen in his home last July — a case local law enforcement has not yet solved.

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