While wearing a large cross, a Haitian gang leader told people if he does not get what he wants, he will kill the people his gang is holding captive.
On Saturday, 17 people with Christian Aid Ministries, 12 adults and five children, were taken by the 400 Mawozo gang. The kidnapped group, which includes a Canadian, was travelling in the Haitian suburb called Croix-des-Bouquets when they were taken and have been with the gang since then.
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In a video released by the 400 Mawozo gang, the leader, donning a blue suit and a large cross around his neck, said that if he did not get $17 million, $1 million for each kidnapped person, he was going to kill them. The leader specifically threatened the lives of the Americans.
The kidnapped missionaries are all Mennonites and Amish, or following other Anabaptist denominations, groups that are religiously pacifist.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Léon Charles, Haiti’s National Police chief, were also threatened.
Earlier Thursday, a Christian Aid Ministries spokesperson, Weston Showalter, said they are fasting and praying. He says the families of the kidnapped are thankful for prayers, asking for prayers for the victims, the authorities, and the kidnappers. Families are praying the victims can return home.
In a tearful statement, Showalter shared the families were asking for prayers that the kidnappers "might be freed from the bondage of sin" and experience freedom on Jesus.
AP says the 400 Mawozo gang claims to have kidnapped five priests and two nuns in April, all released. This gang is known for their record of killings, kidnappings, and extortions.
Haiti is experiencing civil unrest and serious gang power struggles. The country of 11.4 million people has seen hundreds of kidnappings this year. It's President, Jovenel Moïse, was assasinated in July. The country is still recovering after a massive earthquake that killed at least 2,00 people.
The families' letter
"Dear Church of Christ around the world,
Thank you for your prayers on behalf of our family members who are being held hostage in Haiti.
God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to, “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you” (Matthew 5:44).
God invites us to call upon His name in the day of trouble. (Psalm 50:15) We thank Him that He is God, and ask Him to hear our prayers and bring our families home.
We also pray that the light of God’s love might shine out into the darkness of sin, and that the gang members might be freed from their bondage to sin and experience freedom in Jesus Christ.
Thank you, brothers and sisters in Christ, and PLEASE keep praying!
The families of the hostages"