MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WJW) – It’s been nearly two weeks since 17 people affiliated with a Northeast Ohio missionary group were kidnapped in Haiti, and so far, efforts to negotiate with the gang holding the missionaries hostage have failed to win their release.
It was on Oct. 16 that the 17 missionaries, which includes five children, were kidnapped by a street gang after leaving an orphanage outside Port-Au-Prince.
The hostages are affiliated with Christian Aid Ministries, based in Millersburg in Holmes County. The group provides a channel for the Amish and Mennonite communities to do charity work in troubled areas of the world.
On Thursday, Christian Aid Ministries issued a new statement about the mass kidnapping of the missionaries.
The statement reads in part: “As we approach the two-week mark, we continue to pray that God would protect the hostages and give them grace to respond with Christ-like love in the face of evil. We pray for the kidnappers, that God would soften their hearts and draw them to himself. Our prayers are also with the families as they wait day after day for the release of their loved ones”
The Haitian gang that kidnapped the 17 hostages is known as 400 Mawozo and is demanding $17 million for their release.
Of grave concern to U.S. authorities and the families of the missionaries is a video released last week by the leader of the gang, during which he threatened to shoot the hostages.
The U.S. State Department and the FBI have been working with police in Haiti to negotiate a peaceful resolution.
Historically, the U.S. has been unwilling to pay ransom in some cases because federal authorities believe it encourages more kidnappings.
In the latest recorded statement, Christian Aid Ministries says Haiti is in a state of anarchy and that gangs like the kidnappers in 400 Mawozo are controlling many areas of the country.
According to the statement, “most people are staying close to home because travel is too dangerous. Fear abounds everywhere. Pray that God could bring peace and stability in the midst of this fear and chaos.”