Haiti Missionaries Describe Dramatic Escape From Kidnappers

Throughout the days, the missionaries prayed that God would reveal the right time for their escape.

God told them to stay put on two separate occasions when they were preparing to flee. After two months in captivity, the 12 missionaries who had been held hostage put on their shoes and packed water in their clothing on Wednesday night.

Weston Showalter, a spokesman for Christian Aid Ministries, recounted the story of how the aid workers were able to open the door that had been blocked and quickly leave the facility, despite the presence of numerous guards, at a press briefing on Monday.

Their route was marked by “the sure guidance of the stars,” he said, as well as by a mountain.

As they made their way through the woods and thickets, “working through thorns and briers,” they made their way north and west for about 10 miles, carrying two small children.

As the sun began to rise, they were able to enlist the assistance of a stranger to make a phone call. Later that day, they were on a Coast Guard flight to Florida.

“They were finally free,” Mr. Showalter said, through tears.

Last week, the world learned that the 12 remaining members of a group of 17 North American missionaries who had been kidnapped in Haiti two months ago were released. The fact that they were freed by a dramatic escape was unknown until Monday, when word broke.

On Monday morning, five days before Christmas, Christian Aid Ministries leaders gave a press briefing at their headquarters in Ohio. It was the first time they revealed details about the ordeal that began two months ago, when the group was kidnapped by a gang called 400 Mawozo in a neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince after visiting an orphanage.

The group that escaped included a married couple, a 10-month-old baby, a 3-year-old child, a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy, four men and two women, he said. This month, five other members of the group were released.

Unidentified donors “provided funds to pay a ransom and allow the negotiation process to continue,” Christian Aid Ministries general director David N. Troyer said at a press briefing. “We are unable to discuss these negotiations any further at this time.”

Given the current situation in Haiti, he said, the group would “no doubt” halt its efforts there.