The missionary group whose members were kidnapped by a violent gang in Haiti over the weekend issued a call to prayer on Monday asking that those held hostage can “find the strength to demonstrate the love of God” .
“In a world where violence and force are seen as the solution to problems, we believe in God’s call to Christians“… not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good ”, the Ohio missionary group, Christian Aid Ministries, says in a statement invoking Romans 12:21.
“Pray that those held hostage will find the strength to demonstrate the love of God. Kidnappers, like everyone else, are created in the image of God and can be changed if they turn to him”, indicates the press release. “While we desire the safe release of our workers, we also want the kidnappers to be transformed by the love of Jesus, the only source of peace, joy and forgiveness.”
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Seventeen of the members of Christian Aid Ministries, including 12 adults and five children, went missing on Saturday during a trip to an orphanage.
Haitian police say the 400 Mawozo gang, a group with a long record of killings, kidnappings and extortion, are responsible for the kidnapping. This is the largest such kidnapping reported in recent years.
Word of the kidnappings quickly spread in and around Holmes County, Ohio, the hub of one of the nation’s largest populations of conservative Amish and Mennonites, said Marcus Yoder, executive director of the Amish & Mennonite. Heritage Center in nearby Millersburg, Ohio.
Christian Aid Ministries is supported by conservative Mennonite, Amish, and allied groups in the Anabaptist tradition.
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The organization was founded in the early 1980s and began working in Haiti later in the decade, according to Steven Nolt, professor of history and Anabaptist studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. The group has year-round mission staff in Haiti and several countries, he said, and it ships religious, school and medical supplies around the world.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers angry at the lack of security in the country went on strike on Monday in protest. Public transport drivers stayed at home and businesses and schools were closed.
“The population can’t take it anymore,” said Holin Alexis, a motorcycle taxi driver who joined the strike.
Burning tire barricades closed some streets in the capital and other towns, including Les Cayes in southern Haiti, with some people throwing stones at the occasional passing car.
Only a handful of motorcycle taxi drivers like Marc Saint-Pierre crisscrossed Port-au-Prince in search of clients. He said he was attacked for working on Monday but had no choice.
“I have children and need to bring food home today.
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Haiti’s already dire situation has been compounded in recent months by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people in August. Gang-related kidnappings declined following Moses’ death, but are on the rise again.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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