Church leaders provide more details about hostage release.

December 16, 2021

Carleton Horst, left, and Pastor Ronald Marks of the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church.

Church leaders provide more details about hostage release.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — In light of the release of the remaining 12 hostages in Haiti, church leaders from the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church provided more details during a Zoom video meeting with the media Thursday evening, Dec. 16.

Pastor Ronald Marks and Worship Leader Carleton Horst said they are presently not releasing the names or photos of the kidnapping victims who belong to their congregation.

“They were treated relatively well,” said Pastor Marks. “I am 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.”

The church has not been notified of the hostages suffering from any illnesses or injuries while in captivity. Marks said he does not know when the family will return home. 

Pastor Marks clarified that six people from their congregation — a mother and her five children — were captured. It had previously been reported that there were four children from the congregation that were kidnapped.

“They’re still in Haiti, I think, and we’re still praying for their safe return back to our area,” he said. He also added that he didn’t know the details of their release. “I don’t know the terms of they’re being freed.”

Horst said they were notified Thursday morning of their release via a text message from Christain Aid Ministries, the Ohio-based organization that sponsored the mission. “The message said, ‘Everyone is free. Praise the Lord,’” said Pastor Marks.

Three missionaries had most recently been released, Dec. 6, and two were freed Nov. 21. The remaining 12 hostages kidnapped by the violent gang two months ago were finally freed Thursday. The local mother and her five children were among 17 missionaries kidnapped, Oct. 16. One of the captured children was 8 months old at the time of the kidnapping. 

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

The local father was back at the missionary camp in Haiti writing a sermon for the next day’s service at the time of the kidnapping.

The gang that snatched the missionary group demanded $17 million — $1 million per person — in ransom. Marks said he did not know if any ransom was paid to release the hostages.

“We certainly received some good news this morning that the last of the hostages in Haiti were freed,” the pastor said when he opened the meeting. “We’re rejoicing in that. God is good. God has answered our prayers. We are rejoicing that a great load is lifted and we’re ready for Christmas. Praise the Lord.”

“We are truly rejoicing that God has allowed the captives to be free,” said Horst. “We as a community have come together over the last two months and have been praying together. We have been receiving a lot of calls from around the world.

“We just want to give God all of the honor and glory from this,” said Horst. “The devil has tried to destroy the church since the beginning of time. Yet God is the victor over it all.”

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