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Silsby released after verdict

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP)–Baptist volunteer Laura Silsby has been released by Haitian authorities after a court conviction May 17.

According to the Associated Press, Silsby was convicted May 17 of arranging to transport 33 children out of Haiti in late January, following the Jan. 12 earthquake that ravaged the Caribbean country. Silsby was leading a group of 10 Baptist volunteers who were detained by authorities for allegedly failing to obtain the needed documentation to transport the children to an orphanage that was being started in the Dominican Republic.

Silsby, who had completed 15 full weeks in prison, was released for the time she had served, AP reported, and was free to leave the country.

Eight others in the group were freed in mid-February and the ninth was released in early March.

“We’re thrilled. We’re thanking the Lord. We’re humbled, and at the same time very thankful she’s out of there. We’re very thankful to the Haitian church because they took care of her as well,” Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, told Baptist Press.

Thompson was among those released in February, and though he hadn’t spoken directly to Silsby since then, he received regular updates from Haitian Christians who were able to minister to her during her days in prison.

Child kidnapping charges were dropped against all 10, but Silsby remained in jail facing an ill-defined charge of “irregular travel.”

Thompson asked for continued prayer for Silsby upon hearing of her release.

“Pray for her adjustment at home. She still obviously has a lot of adjustments to come home to, being in jail for such a long time. Pray for her family, for her children,” he said.

Also, Thompson was reminded of others apart from the Idaho group who face similar challenges.

“I think Southern Baptists should use this moment to be reminded of the unknown numbers of believers around the world who are in jail right now for the cause of the Gospel, and we need to be constantly in prayer for them,” he said.

Silsby is a member of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho. Four of the other volunteers also are members of Central Valley and another four are members of other Southern Baptist churches.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston and staff writer Erin Roach.

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