Haiti (MNN) — The Haitian gang that recently kidnapped 17 American and Canadian missionaries are now demanding $17 million in ransom — $1 million per person.
The 17 missionaries are members of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. They were kidnapped Saturday by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang, a group that’s gained increasing power in the last three years and essentially controls Port-au-Prince suburb Croix-des-Bouquets.
Among those kidnapped are an 8-month-old infant and four children ages 3, 6, 14, and 15-years-old. The American FBI and Haitian authorities are working to negotiate the group’s release.
Rising Gang Activity
Reported kidnappings in Haiti have risen by 550% in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year.
For other mission agencies in Haiti like Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the rise in gang threats has presented challenges for ministry.
MAF’s Latin America regional director Dave McCleery says, “The gang activity is becoming a little more mobilized and a little more widespread. We do feel like we have to be more vigilant and so we’ve raised our threat level there for our staff.”
Between the earthquake in August, the assassination of the president, and deteriorating government stability, many Haitians are growing fearful and desperate.
“Some of the gang activity and people taking things into their own hands are in a very desperate situation,” McCleery says. “That’s a lot of what we’re seeing is the desperation there. And that desperation, unfortunately, will lead to cutting off resources flowing from the United States and North America because of travel risk and those types of things.”
Challenges for Haitian Ministries
MAF in Haiti flies into remote and hard-to-reach areas with relief, medical aid, and Gospel resources.
While growing threats and risk won’t stop Gospel outreach, McCleery says, “Some of the ministry and what it looks like is changing — more local activity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We are still able to respond with airplanes because we can still fly to those distant, isolated communities. And we’re finding, actually, more Haitian people and Haitian ministry activity needing to use the airplane because of the insecurity of the roads.”
The hardest part is an ongoing need for funding and support from the global Body of Christ. It takes a lot of money to keep fuel in planes and buy parts for maintenance.
If you want to support MAF Haiti, click here!
MAF recently linked arms with Samaritan’s Purse for more effective ministry work in Haiti.
“They’ll help us with an additional airplane that they will use and we will crew it for them to be able to respond in that way more collaboratively with other mission organizations.”
Freedom from Desperation
What Haiti needs is freedom from fear and desperation, “and I think that will only come with the Gospel affecting people’s lives,” says McCleery.
“I would ask for prayer that the Holy Spirit would convict hearts and reach into the right places at the right time and affect leaders who can really make an effective change there.”
Please pray also for the mission group’s safe release, and for the salvation of their kidnappers.
Header photo courtesy of Patrice S Dorsainville via Unsplash.