- (Photo: AP / U.S. Navy, Lance Cpl. Megan E. Sindelar)
A Christian ministry is reaching out to potential Somalian pirates. Pirates from Somalia have been grabbing headlines in recent months for their hijacking of ships off the east African coast.
Three Somali pirates were recently killed by U.S. snipers in a successful bid to free their hostage, Captain Richard Phillips.
The U.S. Justice Department is currently considering whether to bring a captured pirate to the United States, Kenya or Somalia to face charges.
Bob Hoskins, founder of Florida-based charity OneHope, said many Somali pirates are actually young boys. Of the captured pirate in question, Hoskins said, "They say he's probably 14, maybe 15 years old; he weighs 85 pounds - just a child!"
According to the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minn., the captured pirate was identified by Somali media as 16-year-old Mohamed Abdi, But other reports have indicated he is as young as 14.
Hoskins said of child pirates, "Their problem is their environment and the human desire for acceptance and affirmation. It is so deep, that it'll drive these children to do desperate things, and usually it's older people who are manipulating them and using them. My heart just broke."
Hoskins said that the story of the young pirate gave him greater passion to reach children with the Gospel, so that they would not be tempted into a life of crime and piracy.
"That's what OneHope is all about: going into places of desperation and telling the children there is hope, and that hope is found in the truth of God's Word."