HOLMES COUNTY, Ohio — The 17 members of an Ohio-based missionary group who were kidnapped for two months in Haiti have left the country. That's according to the general director of Christian Aid Ministries, David Troyer.
Troyer said in a video statement on Friday that the members left the Caribbean country in a U.S. flagged plane Thursday afternoon.
“Everyone including the 10-month-old baby, the 3-year-old boy and the 6-year-old boy seem to be doing reasonably well,” Troyer said.
The missionaries left the country two months after being kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16.
The gang's leader threatened to kill the hostages if his demands were not met. Authorities said the gang was demanding $1 million per hostage, although it was not clear if that included the five children.
Troyer did address how the missionaries were released, such as if the ransom was paid or if a rescue effort was involved. Nevertheless, Troyer thanked the U.S. government and anyone who assisted in the safe return of the missionaries.
Based in Berlin, Ohio, Christian Aid Ministries is supported and staffed by conservative Anabaptists, a range of Mennonite, Amish and related groups whose hallmarks include nonresistance to evil, plain dress and separation from mainstream society.
In keeping with Anabaptist teaching, which puts a premium on forgiveness, Troyer offered conciliatory words to the captors.
“A word to the kidnappers: We do not know all of the challenges you face. We do believe that violence and oppression of others can never be justified. You caused our hostages and their families a lot of suffering,” he said. “However, Jesus taught us by word and by his own example that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violent force. Therefore, we extend forgiveness to you.”
Troyer said the missionaries were kidnapped after leaving an orphanage and were able to spend their captivity together as a group.
"They spent many hours of each day praying, singing, and encouraging each other. Unfortunately, they did not have a Bible, but they recited Bible verses by memory among themselves. They prayed for their captors and told them about God’s love and their need to repent," Troyer said.
You can watch Troyer's full video update here.
Christian Aid Ministries plans to hold on a press conference on Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. to share more information.