The families of the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti on Oct. 16 have been safely reunited with their loved ones after the 12 remaining hostages managed to escape and make it to freedom.
The entire ordeal began when a group with Christian Aid Ministries was returning from a visit to an orphanage. They were intercepted by a well-known gang, 400 Mawozo, and were kidnapped. The gang demanded $1 million apiece for their release.
According to a statement released by CAM, the missionaries were bold witnesses for their faith even as they were captured and kept in captivity. They sang hymns, recited scripture and encouraged one another as well as tried to convince their captors to repent and believe.
In November, the gang released two of the missionaries. In December, they released three more.
But on Dec. 15, after feeling “nudged” to make a break, the remaining 12 missionaries — including children and an infant — solidified a plan.
They walked for miles over the rough terrain, in gang territory, filled with brambles, with nothing to guide them but the light of the moon and their faith. It was enough.
Spokesperson for CAM, Weston Showalter, detailed the setting before, during and after the daring escape.
“The hostages were sensing God nudging them to attempt an escape,” he said, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Over the time of their captivity, God gave various hostages a desire to attempt an escape.”
“To attempt such a thing would be dangerous. They sought God over and over again seeking direction from Him.
“After much discussion and prayer, they became solidly united that God seemed to be leading them this way. When they sensed the timing was right, they found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path that they had chosen to follow, and quickly left the place that they were held despite the fact that numerous guards were close by.
“In the distance, they could see a mountain feature that they had recognized and they had identified in the previous days. They identified this landmark before and they knew that they — this was the direction they needed to go. They also followed the sure guidance of the stars as they journeyed through the night, traveling toward safety.”
Eventually, as morning dawned, they met a person who helped them call for help, and they were saved. All members of the group are reportedly in good shape, considering, and are back home, safe and sound — though their complete recovery from the harrowing ordeal will certainly take some time.
General Director of CAM, David Troyer, wrote an update on the situation, and part of the update was directed toward the kidnappers.
“We do not know all of the challenges you face,” he wrote. “We do believe that violence and oppression of others can never be justified. You caused our hostages and their families a lot of suffering. However, Jesus taught us by word and by His own example that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violent force. Therefore, we extend forgiveness to you.
“The hostages told you plainly how you can also be forgiven by God, if you repent. Our desire is that you and all who hear or read this statement may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Son of God, and the Prince of Peace.”