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Remaining 12 Christian missionaries freed in Haiti

Unidentified people gather at the Christian Aid Ministries headquarters in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday (Dec. 16). (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

PORT-AU-PRINCE (BP) – Christian Aid Ministries is praising God upon the release today (Dec. 16) of the remaining 12 missionaries a violent gang kidnapped two months ago in Haiti.

“We glorify God for answered prayer – the remaining 12 hostages are FREE! Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe,” the ministry said at ChristianAidMinistries.org. “Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months.”

Haitian police said the hostages were safe, but details of their condition were not revealed. The violent 400 Mawozo gang had demanded $1 million per hostage, but it is not clear whether any ransom was paid for their release.

Christian medical missionary David Vanderpool, founder and CEO of the Haiti-based humanitarian ministry LiveBeyond, is familiar with the 400 Mawozo gang.

Vanderpool said “everything has been very tightlipped” regarding today’s hostage release, but described the development as answered prayer.

“I’ve just feeling so terrible for these people. We’ve been praying for them just daily, calling for prayers in all of our extended contacts, using all social media we could to get people to pray for them,” Vanderpool told Baptist Press. “And today, the prayers were answered. Just outstanding. We praise God for liberating these folks.”

In 2019, the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped two Live Beyond workers and tortured them before Vanderpool was able to negotiate their release without paying a ransom.

“We were able to get them out without paying a ransom, but so much has changed since then,” Vanderpool said. “Our two men were tortured for two days before they were released. Our men were really affected negatively.”

The Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) missionaries released today were included in a group of 16 Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. The gang previously released five hostages, including two in November and three earlier this month. The gang had threatened to kill the hostages, which included five children, one only 8 months old.

CAM indicated more information would be released. CAM describes itself as a ministry working “to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

Conditions continue to deteriorate in Haiti, Vanderpool said. LiveBeyond has continued to operate its medical facility and to hold worship services, but worshipers are frequently kidnapped from churches on the island.

“It’s continued to get worse, with gangs controlling at least 60 percent of the country, according to the U.N.,” Vanderpool said. “It’s a terrible time in Haiti. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anybody coming to their aid.”

Vanderpool described Haitians as spiritual, even as the kidnappings have chilled some worship services.

“We’re very blessed that our base of operations is running well without any trouble,” he said. “Our school is running well. Our hospital visits are up 20 percent because most of the hospitals have closed down. We’re one of the few that are still running.”