Audrey Branham 

On October 16th, 2021, near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, there was a kidnapping of five men, seven women, and five children by the ‘400 Mawozo’ gang. Among those kidnapped were sixteen Americans and one Canadian who were working with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. The group was traveling in a bus leaving the city of Croix-des-Bouquets when their bus was hijacked and taken.  

According to BBC News, the 400 Mawozo gang has been responsible for the “vast majority” of the “more than 600 kidnappings recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 231 over the same period last year”.  

The New York Times links this decrease in civil stability and the increase in gang-related kidnappings to the recent assassination of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, in July of 2021. This political insurrection has crippled the already stretched-thin Haitian police force in their continued fight against gang activity.  

Circumstances have been even further exacerbated by the recent resignation of Haiti’s general police director, Léon Charles, on October 14th, 2021 who gave no reason for resignation after eleven months on the job. Charles was quickly replaced with Frantz Elbé, who is a relatively unknown police officer.  

With all of the political instability and administration shuffle, the assassination of the president is still unsolved and investigation has been halted. This horrendous mix of political and structural change and confusion has only allowed increased gang activity throughout Haiti.  

The missionaries who continue to be held hostage are affiliated with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries which is a donation-based ministry that supplies food, shelter, clothing, and education to needy Haitian children. Christian Aid Ministries has continued to update on their website with any and all situational progress or changes.  

Throughout the development of the hostage situation, they have continued to share all the encouragements and prayers that have been sent to them and the hostages’ families from around the nation and the world.  

Christian Aid Ministries says, “Yesterday we invited people to share encouragement for the families of the hostages. Since then, an outpouring of love has come from around the world, including the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Swaziland, Nigeria, Australia, the Philippines, Mexico, and Brazil.  

Families have found courage in your words of blessing, written prayers, and stories of God’s faithfulness. You can continue to send these to prayers@christianaidministries.org. Family members appreciate knowing the state or country of the person writing.  

Christian Aid Ministries also made a statement to BBC News that they are “praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected”. Christian Aid Ministries continues to update its website with international messages of encouragement, prayers, and scripture that remind its readers that God is still present with them and with their loved ones. 

While the kidnapping happened on October 16th, there is significant movement and progression in the rescue and hostage negotiation since. After the hostages were taken, the New York Times says that the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, Wilson Joseph, made a ransom demand of $1 million per hostage or deadly force will be taken against each of them.  

The New York Times says that the “FBI and the State Department are currently working to secure the release of the hostages, five of whom are children”.  

While the hostage negotiation plays out on an international stage, it is easy to feel helpless as simple OBU students. However, let us not forget that we have a direct channel to the ear of someone who is in control of much more than the FBI or the whole of the American Government.  

As a campus, let us collectively approach the throne of the God of the universe as He allows us to do, and ask for His perfect and good will to be done in this situation. Let us ask for safety and beauty to come out of this scary and disturbing situation of which only God knows each and every moving piece.  

While this may sometimes feel like just words thrown to the wind, prayer is actually fulfilling one of the many gifts that God gave us through the cross. This allows us to be personally heard and listened to by our God and Father. Do not underestimate the good impact that your words and the outpouring of your heart to your Heavenly Father can have on the world around us.  

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