The missionaries who were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti in late October and escaped from their captors this week said they prayed for their kidnappers to repent of their deeds and find salvation in Christ.
The leader of a U.S.-based missionary group abducted in Haiti announced Friday that all of its former captives had been flown out of the nation following a two-month ordeal, as he also offered forgiveness to their kidnappers, the Associated Press reported.
An American-registered aircraft departed the Caribbean island Thursday afternoon with the last 12 abducted missionaries, Christian Aid Ministries' general director David Troyer said in a video message.
According to Troyer, "everyone, including the 10-month-old baby, the 3-year-old boy seem to be doing reasonably well."
Two months after the 400 Mawozo gang abducted the party of 16 Americans and one Canadian, including five children, they reportedly released the last of their captives. Earlier, the five other captives were also released.
Christian Aid Ministries (CAM), Charisma noted, is based in Berlin, Ohio, and is run by conservative Anabaptists, Mennonites, Amish, and associated organizations. Their traits include non-resistance to evil, simple clothes, and social exclusion.
In line with Anabaptist theology, which emphasizes forgiveness, Troyer released forgiveness toward their kidnappers.
"A word to the kidnappers: We do not know all of the challenges you face," he reportedly said. "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."
According to Troyer, the captives had "prayed for their captors and told them of God's love and their need to repent."
The group also started singing a chorus from Psalm 91 as soon as they realized what was unfolding during their captivity. After hearing this song so many times in captivity, it became one of their favorites.
Thus, throughout the ordeal, he added, the captives prayed, sang, and encouraged one another.
400 Mawozo is said to have demanded $1 million per person in ransom, however it's not known whether that includes the children. The gang's commander threatened to execute the captives had been made by if his demands were not satisfied.
There has been an increase in gang activity and kidnappings in Haiti, according to Troyer, who said that CAM employees were aware of the risks. However, the group often operates in risky locations since "that is usually where the biggest needs are."
While Troyer acknowledges that CAM will need to improve security and better train their workers about the risk involved," he says that the organization expects to continue operating in Haiti.
Troyer did not elaborate on the specifics of the rescue, such as if a ransom was paid or whether a rescue operation was carried out, but he did express gratitude to "the U.S. government and all others who assisted in the safe return of our hostages."
"Thank you for understanding our desire to pursue nonviolent approaches," he said.