Seventeen Christian missionaries—16 American and one Canadian—were abducted by an armed gang in Haiti Oct. 16.
Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries confirmed that the missionaries were sent by its organization and had been kidnapped while on a trip to visit an orphanage. Of those abducted, five were men, seven were women and five were children.
“We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.
According to ABC News, the Haitian government suspects the gang known as 400 Mawozo is responsible for the kidnapping.
Witnesses told CBN News that the missionaries were forced out of their bus at gunpoint in the Croix des Bouquets area, about 8 miles northeast of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
It is still unclear where the victims were taken, but authorities say that the gang is demanding a ransom of $1 million per person.
In an interview with Fox News, Edward Graham, youngest son of Franklin Graham and assistant to the vice president of programs & government relations for Samaritan’s Purse, called the kidnapping “pure evil.”
“There’s so much turmoil going on in Haiti,” he said. “…These gangs have gotten out of control. … We want to love on our neighbors, and we want to share the hope of Jesus Christ with them, but these gangs are making it very difficult for aid workers. And this country relies heavily on international aid, and that’s who these gang are attacking—the aid workers, the doctors that go down there, even [Haitian] doctors.”
In fact, ABC News correspondent Phil Lipof reported that Haiti’s Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights has recorded more than 600 kidnappings so far this year, with 117 taking place in the last month alone.
“It’s my prayer for these missionaries that God would deliver them safely and peacefully,” Graham concluded. “And I’m praying for the kidnappers, that [they] would know their mistakes, know they’re wrong, and also fear what may come from the U.S. government and from the Lord.”
In addition to the increase in gang-related kidnappings, the country of Haiti is still reeling from the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse, on July 7, and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the nation on Aug. 14, killing more than 2,200 people.
Above: Traffic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 24.
Photo: Reuters/Ricardo Arduengo/Alamy Stock Photo