Hart community prays for missionaries kidnapped in Haiti
Hart — Danielle Horst shifted left, then right, in her prayer circle as she cradled her 8-month-old daughter, Kianna, in her left arm.
Danielle brushed tears from her eyes as she bowed her head, a white bonnet typical of her faith on her head.
Another baby was on her mind, the same age as hers.
“I’m thinking about the mother and her needs, the physical needs,” said Horst, one of more than 150 people who gathered Sunday in this small town of 2,100 to pray for local family members kidnapped by a violent gang in Haiti on Oct. 16.
A mother and four children, members of Hart Dunkard Brethren Church, were captured after leaving an orphanage outside Port-au-Prince, the church minister, Ron Marks, told The Detroit News earlier this month.
They were among 16 missionaries from America and one from Canada. Five children aged 8 months, 3 years, 6, 13 and 15, were among them.
On Sunday, some 1,900 miles from the turmoil, under cloudy skies, the community gathered along the Hart River to pray and read Bible verses. The vigil in the west Michigan community about 200 miles northwest of Detroit took place after a video was released Thursday showing the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang threatening to kill those abducted if his demands are not met. Haitian officials have said the gang is seeking a $1 million ransom per person.
Members of the tiny Hart church said at the prayer vigil that a fifth adult child also was kidnapped. The father reportedly was at the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries mission in Haiti.
Tracy McGhan said the children who were kidnapped have volunteered at the food bank she runs.
“It’s devastating. We don’t know how they are being treated, if they are being fed,” McGhan said.
Pastors from local Wesleyan, Baptist and Episcopal churches joined the vigil, which lasted about 50 minutes.
“This really does hit home,” said Bob Gray, pastor of Hart Wesleyan Church. “We felt the pain with them and are praying for the day they come home. We are trusting it will end well."
Linda Dodge of nearby Hesperia, said Sunday her church congregation was shocked by the kidnapping.
“The best thing we could hope for is that this family will shine so bright for Jesus among their captors, that they will terrify the captors out of doing anything to them at all,” Dodge said. “That that love will shine through so much, that they are just afraid to touch them in any way.”
A spokesman for Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries has said the families of those kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, Canada. Members emphasize prayer, pacifism and good acts.
The FBI is helping Haitian authorities recover the group. A Haitian human rights group said their Haitian driver also was kidnapped.
The White House said last week it had a team in Haiti, working in with the FBI and U.S. embassy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.