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Ransom demands and prayers: The kidnapping of a mission group in Haiti

Gangs control roughly half the impoverished Caribbean island nation's capital.

As a journalist who covers religion, I’ve been blessed to report firsthand from countries such as Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua and South Africa.

As a result, when violence and war flare in those places, the news doesn’t seem a million miles away. Instead, I envision real people and places.

The same is true of Haiti, where I reported on a well-drilling ministry in 2018. We took safety precautions, but I never felt unsafe as I traveled with a U.S. mission team in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Related: Assassination can’t stop VBS

Three years later, circumstances have changed in that impoverished Caribbean nation, rocked in recent months by a presidential assassination and natural disasters.

The latest: a gang’s kidnapping of six men, six women and five children working with Christian Aid Ministries, a global Anabaptist missionary organization based in Millersburg, Ohio. A gang leader has threatened to kill the hostages if a ransom of $1 million per head is not paid.


Coverage of the mission group by the New York Times’ Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias resonates with me.

”Christian missionary workers typically labor in obscurity, running medical clinics, building wells and delivering Bibles without fanfare — until crisis erupts,” Graham and Dias write.

At ReligionUnplugged.com, Michael Ray Smith talks to missions leaders about the surging number of kidnappings in Haiti, where gangs have gained control of roughly half the capital.

Other related stories that help explain what’s happening:

As abductions in Haiti increase, churches and ministries find themselves in the crosshairs (by Jamie Dean, World)

An around-the-clock prayer effort to save the Haiti hostages (by Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, New York Times)

Why people keep going to Haiti, despite the obvious danger (by Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press)

As gang threatens violence, families of captured missionaries ask for continued prayers (by Carol Thompson, Detroit News)

Gangs threaten to tip Haiti into a failed state (by Ryan Dube and José de Córdoba, Wall Street Journal)

Kidnapped Americans part of 40-year-old, U.S.-based missionary group (by Mark A. Kellner, Washington Times)

Read the rest of the column.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

“Weekend Plug-in,”  featuring analysis, insights and top headlines from the world of faith, is produced in partnership with Religion Unplugged.

Filed under: Christianity in Haiti Haiti Haiti kidnapping Inside Story International journalism Opinion Top Stories travel Weekend Plug-In

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