Missionary kidnapping case distracts from mission

By February 8, 2010

Haiti (MNN) — Ten American
missionaries to Haiti now face kidnapping charges. 

If convicted, they could face
nine years in prison for child kidnapping and further jail time for conspiracy.

According to their lawyer, they say
they were trying to help children abandoned after the devastating January 12
quake that killed an estimated 212,000 people and left at least a million
homeless. However, they moved forward
without the proper documentation.

Authorities caught a group at the
Dominican Republic border trying to escort 33 children out of the quake zone
into a hastily-arranged refuge. 

Their case struck a nerve in a
country already struggling with rampant child-trafficking
issues. The situation brought to mind
other ministries who work with children. Will this complicate similar ministry for others? 

Roger Thomas with
AMG International
says that's possible. "The press
has pretty much given people like us and people like this group a black eye,
implying that we're really there for bad motives. We're there to help
children." Thomas is giving them the
benefit of the doubt.

However, this case could mean
closer government scrutiny is warranted. Good intentions need to be backed by a proven
indigenous structure. Thomas noted that in
spite of the fact that the Haitian government is all but paralyzed, they were alert enough
to catch this particular group.   

The case may create more
restrictions down the line, but it won't
change how AMG approaches relief. He
says, "We simply want to show the compassion of Christ in any way that we
can, and sometimes that's misunderstood." 

That's why AMG International
partners with two Haitian pastors in childcare and medical care ministries near
the north coast of Haiti.   

These pastors provide education,
daily meals, and Bible training for 1,500 children. AMG says the January
12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince did not directly affect any of their project
partners. 

However, most families living
near the north coast of Haiti had family members, neighbors, or friends living,
working, attending school, or visiting in Port-au-Prince. Thousands of
people who survived are heading back with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Through their Haitian pastors and
their congregations, AMG is reaching out to help these refugees with emergency
food packages, health kits, and medical care.

An AMG team departs for Haiti on
February 16 and will include an American doctor to assist the staff at Bethesda
Medical Center. AMG is also purchasing additional medical supplies in the
U.S.–items which are no longer available for purchase in Haiti. 

The team will take some of these
items in, and other things will be shipped into Cap Haitien even before the
team arrives. Plans are also underway to send in hundreds of additional
food packets of rice, beans, cooking oil, powdered milk, dry pasta, and
textured vegetable protein. In partnership with another mission agency, a
shipping container of beans is also being acquired for shipment to Haiti.

Thomas says working with these
teams helps them to avoid trouble and misunderstandings. "We partner with
Haitian pastors who have these ministries, and so our face in Haiti is
completely Haitian." 

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