Members of a U.S.-based Christian missionary group who were taken by the notorious Haitian street gang 400 Mawozo near Port-au-Prince on October 16 have been released.
Two months ago, 16 American missionaries and one Canadian missionary were taken by the gang as they were on their way back from an orphanage just 90 minutes away from their base. The abduction came around the time of increased violence and kidnappings in Haiti, where there were shortages of fuel and supplies.
According to the Washington Post, the group of missionaries from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries included women and five children, one of which was as young as 8 months at the time of the abduction. Two hostages had been released in November and three more were released earlier this month. Meanwhile, Haitian national police spokesman Gary Desrosiers confirmed that the final 12 hostages were released.
Haitian media reported that the 12 hostages were released in Morne à Cabrit, a remote town just off the capital of Port-au-Prince. However, human rights groups said that the group's Hatian driver who was also believed to be taken by the gang was nowhere to be found.
"We glorify God for answered prayer - the remaining 12 hostages are FREE!" Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. "Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe."
The organization also expressed gratitude for continued prayers and support throughout the ordeal. The statement read, "Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months. We hope to provide more information as we are able. 'I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously' (Exodus 15:1b)."
According to Faithwire, the 400 Mowozo gang asked for a $1 million ransom for each of the 17 Christian missionaries- a total of $17 million. No details have been disclosed as to whether the U.S. paid any ransom. Meanwhile, religious and missionary groups continue to warn about the dangers of being in Haiti. The U.S. embassy already warned all American missionaries to depart from Haiti or risk being exposed to gang violence in the midst of economic turmoil.
As per CBN News, missionaries Bruce and Mary Melissa Vernon shared that despite having been flown out of Haiti in November, they still wish to go back to Haiti to continue their work despite the danger. Bruce shared of their ordeal, "Sometimes we can hear gunshots from our house that we think are associated with 400 Mowozo gang. Because of the gangs and kidnappings, we had to move our Bible classes online. There are very few missionaries left in Haiti at this time."
The Vernons encouraged the faithful all over the world to join them in praying for the safety of missionaries, focusing on the Scripture in their petition. They said, "Brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."