The staff of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries has been praying day and night for the safe return of 15 of their 17 missionaries kidnapped by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti while continuing to work through the crisis, the international organization said.
"Our staff have done well in continuing the work, despite the constant concern as we consider our loved ones who are still being held hostage,” Weston Showalter, a spokesman for Christian Aid Ministries, told The Daily Record in an interview published Sunday.
A week ago, Christian Aid Ministries announced that two of their 17 abducted missionaries kidnapped on Oct. 16, reported to be sick adults, were released and no ransom was paid. Prior to their release, the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang threatened the missionaries would be killed if they did not receive $1 million each for their freedom.
According to their website, Christian Aid Ministries helps Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.
These needs, said Showalter, never stopped when their missionaries were kidnapped. The organization has continued to honor its mission despite the concern for the kidnapped missionaries.
"Suffering refugees, impoverished elderly people, widows, orphans, disaster victims and others continue to need assistance," Showalter said. He said the group prays and works to serve two different needs.
"Since this crisis began, each workday morning there has been a staff singing and prayer time here at the office," he said. "These times have been a blessing. Our desire is to continue to lift the situation to God, depending on Him to carry us through. We desire that His great name be glorified."
He further noted: "These are people that we know and deeply care about. Undoubtedly, for most of us, it is the first thing we think about when we wake up in the morning and the last thing we think about when we turn in for the night."
The initial group of kidnapped missionaries included six men, six women and five children, of which 16 are Americans and one is Canadian. The missionaries range in age from just eight months old to 48.
Negotiations for their release continued last month between the gang and officials from the U.S. and the troubled Caribbean country. Meanwhile, a video of 400 Mawozo leader Wilson Joseph began circulating on social media showing the crime boss wasn't pleased with the pace of negotiations.
The gang leader threatened Haiti’s Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, as well as the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles. Bloomberg noted that Joseph’s speech was made in front of open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.
“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.
Despite the threat of execution at the time, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement that the “families are united in their desire to follow Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness.”