The Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries urged continued prayers for their 17 missionaries being held captive by the 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti as families of 26 Americans being held hostage around the world recently pressed the Biden administration to push more aggressively to free their loved ones.
Nearly three weeks have passed since 17 missionaries working with Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped by Haitian gangsters who have threatened to kill them if their $17 million ransom is not paid.
The international Christian charity has said it is praying for wisdom as negotiations continue between American and Haitian authorities to secure their release.
"This is now the 17th day since the kidnapping in Haiti took place. Our workers and loved ones are still being held. Voices from around the world continue to cry out to God to sustain the hostages. We desire wisdom from God as we work through this difficult situation," Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement to The Christian Post on Monday.
The group of missionaries kidnapped Oct. 16, while they were working with Christian Aid Ministries includes six men, six women and five children, of which 16 are Americans and one is Canadian. They range in age from an 8-month-old baby to a 48-year-old.
Last week, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden continues to be briefed daily about the kidnapping of the missionaries and noted that he was particularly concerned about the five children in the group.
"I personally give an update on this issue every single day to the president, who is taking a deep interest in making sure we get every single one of those people home safely," Sullivan said.
Shortly after the kidnapping of the missionaries on Oct. 16, he said, three FBI agents were deployed to Haiti. Since then, Sullivan said the U.S. has sent "a significant number of law enforcement specialists and hostage recovery specialists to work closely with the ministry, the families and the Haitian government to try to coordinate and organize a recovery."
"We are looking at every possible option for how to go about doing that," he explained. "I will be sensitive to what obviously is a delicate situation, not say more here, other than we have put the assets and resources in place that we believe can help bring this to a successful conclusion."
In an open letter to Biden published by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, the hostage advocacy group, the families of 26 American hostages being held in other countries, including Syria, China, Venezuela, Rwanda, Iran, Russia and Egypt explained how they have been waiting for much longer than the missionaries in Haiti to see their loved ones freed.
"We are grateful for the times you have personally referred to some of our family members by name in public statements vowing to fight for their release. Many of us were present on a February call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his first week in office. That call provided hope to so many families who heard this administration promise that their loved ones' freedom was a national priority," the families wrote.
"Yet as of this letter, so many of us remain in the same situation, or worse, more than eight months later. In fact, some of us have endured this burden across multiple administrations," they continued. "We have not been able to meet with you or even with your national security advisor to discuss our loved ones' captivity, which leads us to believe that your administration is not prioritizing negotiations and other methods to secure their release. When we do meet with other officials we feel we are being kept in the dark about what the U.S. government intends to do to free our loved ones."
Jean Pierre Ferrer Michel, a 79-year-old American pastor who was kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti two weeks before the missionaries in Haiti were abducted, was recently freed after $550,000 was reportedly paid for his release.
Since the kidnapping of the missionaries, Haitians have taken to the streets to demand their release. Schools and most businesses were closed for several days in Port-au-Prince last week, according to The Haitian Times, following a call for a general strike to protest kidnappings and widespread insecurity, which followed the assassination of the country's late President Jovenel Moïse in July. A civil society group in that country reports that 600 kidnappings were recorded from January to September 2021, compared with 231 over the same period last year.
Despite the challenges to the freedom of their missionaries, Christian Aid Ministries said people are now praying day and night for their release.
"Throughout the long days of waiting, a special network of global prayer support has gathered around the hostages and their families," the group said. "Every 15 minutes of the day and night, the torch of prayer is passed on. Some time periods have over 20 individuals or groups praying at once."