Community luncheon to celebrate hostages’ freedom.

December 30, 2021

Pictured, left to right, are son-in-law Monte Wadel, Veronica Wadel, Kimberly Noecker, Juanitta Noecker, Brandyn Noecker — hostage, Kasondra Noecker — hostage, Courtney Noecker — hostage, Shelden Noecker — hostage, Cheryl Noecker — hostage, Ray Noecker, Cherilyn Noecker — hostage and Michelle Noecker.

Community luncheon to celebrate hostages’ freedom.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

WEARE TOWNSHIP — A community luncheon scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 2, beginning at noon at the West Michigan Research Center, at 5185 N. Oceana Dr., will celebrate the Noecker family’s freedom from captivity in Haiti.

The “Community Rice and Beans Luncheon” will be followed with a time of “Thanksgiving, Prayer and Praise” beginning at 12:45 p.m

“This event is simply a time of prayer and praise with the community to rejoice that the hostages were all either released or had made a safe escape,” said Worship Leader Carleton Horst of the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church. “We had spent time as a community praying for them and their release, so we wanted to spend time rejoicing as a community.”

Cheryl Noecker and her five children — two of whom are adults — were among the 17 missionaries snatched, Oct. 16, and held captive in Haiti by a violent gang during a two-month ordeal.

It is not known if the Noeckers will be in attendance Sunday.

Cheryl and her youngest child, 6-year-old Shelden, were among three hostages released, Dec. 5. Brandyn, Kasondra, Courtney and Cherilyn were among the 12 hostages who escaped, Dec. 16. The Noecker family attends the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church.

“My family has been reunited in time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” wrote the father, Ray Noecker, shortly following the end of his family’s ordeal. Ray was also on the mission trip but was not kidnapped. He stayed back at the mission camp the day of the kidnapping to write a sermon for the next day’s service.

 “My family is all together and in good health. We are all rejoicing together over the many ways God answered the prayers of His people from all around the world. I want to thank everyone who joined together to pray for the protection and release of the hostages. Please continue to pray for those in Haiti and around the world who are still being held against their will. We are currently spending time together as a family in celebrating Jesus’ birth. When the hostages spent Thanksgiving Day together in captivity, it became their special prayer to be home in time for Christmas. Thank you, God, for your many gifts to us. Lord willing, we plan to return to our home in west Michigan before the end of this year.”

The remaining captive missionaries found freedom by making a daring overnight escape, walking 10 miles through briars and thorns with a baby and other children in tow, according officials from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries that sponsored the trip.

The group of 12 navigated in the moonlight to reach safety, officials said during a press conference. The details of their journey to safety came after the news, Dec. 16, that the missionaries were free.

A total of 17 people from the missionary group were abducted Oct. 16 shortly after visiting an orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets. 

During their captivity, the adults received small food portions, such as rice and beans, for dinner.

CAM is supported and staffed by conservative Anabaptists, a range of Mennonite, Amish and related groups whose hallmarks include nonresistance to evil, plain dress and separation from mainstream society. 

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