Multicultural News

Indianapolis missionaries stall work after Haiti gangs abduct 17

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kidnapping in Haiti isn’t new. However, those familiar with the country say it may be spiraling out of control now since the country is in chaos.

Many American missionaries are encouraged to stay home and stay safe. It’s a message that’s going out after 17 missionaries were kidnapped.

Solid Word Bible Church in Indianapolis has been sending missionaries to Haiti for 20 years. Mission representatives said the $17 million in ransom sought for the kidnapped missionaries is abnormally high. But, there’s no government or strong police to stop it. The fear is so great, many rarely leave their homes. When they do they are sure to make it back before nightfall.

Chaos is the simple way of describing what’s been happening in Haiti. Basile Spencer is a pastor with the International Baptist Fellowship Church and lives in Haiti. He said what’s happening in Haiti is worse than war because even in war there are rules. But, there are none here.

“It’s a total panic because you don’t know when gangsters will come and kidnap you,” Spencer said.

He works closely with the missionaries from Solid Word Bible Church. Curtis McManus said they’ve been providing medical mission aid in Haiti for 20 years. But with Haiti being rocked by a global coronavirus pandemic, an earthquake, a tropical storm and a presidential assassination, that mission work is on pause.

The kidnappings do not spell the end of the missionaries’ work. “This is definitely a major hiccup for not just us.”

He and Spencer work closely together with families living in Haiti’s mountain regions and bring lifesaving medication and aid to the people there. In years past, the mountains were considered a safe place.

“It’s no longer safe because they still kidnap people in the mountains and everywhere. So, there is no safe space in Haiti,” Spencer said.

Kidnapping is common practice for Haitian gangs. But typically once a bounty is paid, people are released. But with a fallen government and no solid police force, concerns are raised about just how bad things can get, especially for foreigners.

“They discover that you are American or Canadian or non-Haitian, (and) there is a greater likeliness that they would get a lot more money. So from a bounty standpoint, that’s the target,” McManus said.

Solid Word Bible Church mission-work leaders said since they can’t go to Haiti personally for mission work, they are making plans to send aid, such as vital medications, to their Haitian partners in the communities there.