17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

American aid group Christian Aid Ministries has requested urgent prayer for a group of its missionary workers who were abducted by a street gang in Haiti on Saturday while on a bus trip to visit an orphanage.

“We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help,” the group said on its website.

It said the group of 16 US citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children.

“Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected. Pray for those who are seeking God’s direction and making decisions regarding this matter.”

Haitian police named the group behind the abductions as 400 Mawozo, one of the country’s most dangerous criminal gangs which is known for mass kidnappings and ransoming religious groups. The gang was blamed for kidnapping five priests and two nuns in April this year. There has been a spike in kidnappings in Haiti following the murder of President Jovenel Moise. But the abduction of such a large group of Americans, including a two-year-old boy, has reportedly shocked officials for its brazenness.

Christian Aid Ministries said in a “prayer alert” that the missionaries were based in Titanyen, about 18km north of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The alert asked for prayers and that “the gang members would come to repentance and faith in Christ.”

“As an organization, we commit this situation to God and trust Him to see us through. May the Lord Jesus be magnified and many more people come to know His love and salvation.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust . . . For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalm 91:1,2,11).

The group, which is based in Millersburg, Ohio, says on its website that it “strives to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

US Congressman Adam Kinzinger, told CNN the US must find the missionaries and seek to negotiate their release without paying a ransom, or should use the military or police to secure their freedom.

“We need to track down where they are and see if negotiations – without paying ransom – are possible. Or do whatever we need to do, on a military front or a police front,” said Kinzinger, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Canadian government said it was working with local authorities and groups to gather more information.