American missionaries trapped in Haiti seek prayers and help

U.S. missionary Jill Dolan poses with some of the children from her orphanage in Haiti.
U.S. missionary Jill Dolan poses with some of the children from her orphanage in Haiti. | Dolan Out His Love

As a fight for power continues to unfold in Haiti after the Caribbean nation’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he would resign Monday amid escalating violence, an American missionary and several of her adopted children trapped there are pleading for prayers and help as they wait to be evacuated.

Through their Love A Neighbor ministry in collaboration with their sending church, Camano Chapel in Washington state, Ryan and Jill Dolan, along with their children, have worked as missionaries in Haiti since October 2013.

In a statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page on Tuesday, however, a family member revealed that Jill Dolan, along with four of the couple’s adopted children, got trapped as they tried to leave the country last week.

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“My nephew Ryan and his wife Jill are asking for urgent prayer for Jill and four of their adopted teenage kids who were on their way to their biological daughter Sarah’s wedding north of West Palm Beach Florida when armed gangs took over the airport in the Haitian capital, Port–Au–Prince, early last week, trapping them there,” the family member said.

U.S. missionary Jill Dolan and several of her children are trapped in a makeshift motel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as violence continues to escalate in the Caribbean nation.
U.S. missionary Jill Dolan and several of her children are trapped in a makeshift motel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as violence continues to escalate in the Caribbean nation. | Screenshot/Dolan Out His Love

“Flights have been canceled since then, forcing them to stay in a small hotel where they can hear gunshots as the massive gang violence to oust the prime minister continues all over the city, and especially near the airport where they are holed up. The teens are all white (one biological brother-sister set half Mexican), so they stand out in Haiti, which doesn't help at present,” the statement added.

“All roads in and out of the capital are closed as well, so they can’t even return to their ministry home on the western Haitian peninsula, where they operate a health clinic, orphanage and an old age home in a mountain village.”

The family member stated that Ryan Dolan and his son were already in the U.S. when the unrest erupted in Haiti, “but of course they are living the drama as well.”

Calls by The Christian Post to the ministry for further comment went unanswered Wednesday but Jill Dolan told the New York Post in an interview that she has been in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and she is worried “we will be caught in the middle of something really dangerous.”

“Really what they say is like, ‘Be safe.’ I’m just like, ‘OK, well that’s not really helpful,'” she told the news outlet.

“My fear is that we will be caught in the middle of something really dangerous. We’re already on the front lines of it, we’re in a bad area. It’s kind of depressing. The gunfire never stops.”

In July 2023, the U.S. State Department re-issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Haiti asking Americans not to travel to the Caribbean nation. The advisory also ordered all U.S. citizens and non-emergency government employees to leave as soon as possible.

"Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure. On July 27, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees and non-emergency U.S. government employees. U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible by commercial or other privately available transportation options, in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges," the advisory said. "U.S. citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and only do so when considered safe."

That warning didn’t stop missionaries like the Dolans or celebrated author Mitch Albom from visiting. Albom has run the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage in Haiti since 2010.

Albom was in Haiti when the recent unrest erupted but he was lucky enough to be among 10 people who were evacuated from Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"Well, we‘re pretty grimy and exhausted, but after two days of coordinated efforts, a group of us from the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage, including my wife and myself, were evacuated in the middle of the night from a site in Haiti (not our orphanage)," Albom said in a statement Tuesday night after he was rescued with help from U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Michigan.

"It was a helicopter effort and was pretty crazy. I want to thank Cory Mills and Lisa McClain, who were instrumental in making this happen as an independent effort. We were lucky to get out," Albom said.

Other missionaries like the Rev. Steven Svendsen, the longtime pastor of Providence Reformed Baptist Church in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, who is trapped in an unknown location in Haiti, said he was hoping he could be evacuated by helicopter as well.

He explained in a Facebook post last Saturday that he had thought about trying to get out of Haiti via the Dominican Republic border but he was warned against it.

“We were ready to make a run for the DR border by motorcycle but got counsel that big Danes kinda stand out on the back of motorbikes. Our flight to MIA is rescheduled for March 22. I cannot divulge our precise location, but I wish there were a way to publicly promote our guest house (in time I plan to do just that),” he said. “They are feeding us, doing our laundry, and are turning away all business for our protection. I told the owner it might be two weeks. He told me he doesn't care if it is two months. Come on in, U.S. Marines.”

While Svendsen appears to have made the best of his situation, Jill Dolan’s family says she is dealing with both physical and economic stress as she had not planned to have to rent several hotel rooms and paying for meals for almost two weeks in Port–Au–Prince.

“Jill says their funds are running low due to the unexpected dire situation and has asked for any financial help you can give along with your prayer support. Plus they might need to be evacuated by a private security company, which is expensive. I’m praying the U.S. government might help as well,” the family member said.

“The address for aid gifts is their home church, and hit the Give Online button and select Dolan Family. On top of everything else, press reports say food supplies are running low in the city. And this is a hot conflict not on the other side of the world, but not far from affluent Florida. Thanks for any aid you can give and for your prayers.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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