Elie Henry is a Seventh-day Adventist leader from the United States who was kidnapped in Haiti along with his daughter, Irma Henry, on December 24, 2020, his family says. According to a statement from the Miami-based Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church Henry, a “regional spiritual leader,” and his daughter were detained by unknown individuals on the night of December 24.
“The Henry family has been in regular contact with Pastor Elie and understand both he and his daughter are as well as can be expected considering the circumstances. The family and others are working diligently to seek secure safe return,” the statement from the Seventh-day Adventist officials said. “The Henry family and the Church ask you not to speculate on social media but rather focus your energy on keeping Pastor Henry and his daughter Irma in your prayers during this trying time.”
Elie Henry, 76, lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Ketlie Henry. He has three daughters, including Irma, 25, who was born in Miami and has been living and working in Haiti. Her parents were visiting her for a short trip, according to their family.
See link below re Dr. Elie Henry (President of the Inter-American Division) and his daughter, Irma.https://t.co/VQOE6nLR7A
— SEC Adventists (@SECSDA) December 26, 2020
In a second statement, posted on December 27, officials with the Seventh-day Adventist church said, “The Henry family is continuing to actively work to obtain the safe release of Pastor Elie Henry and his daughter, Irma. Both have been detained by unknown individuals in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, since the evening of December 24, 2020.”
According to the Jamaica Gleaner, a relative of the Henrys was contacted and a $5 million ransom demand was made. Authorities in Haiti and the U.S. have not yet commented about the kidnapping.
According to family members’ posts on Facebook, Elie Henry and his wife, Ketlie Henry, were on a short holiday visit to Haiti, where their daughter, Irma, has been living and working at a hospital. “Irma and her father left the hospital by private vehicle at approximately 6pm last night and never arrived at their expected destination. This morning Elie’s brother who is a neurosurgeon in Port au Prince was contacted by kidnappers who said that they are holding Irma and her father for a ransom of $5 million USD. God have a way of turning thing around, am praying he will in this one.”
Elie Henry has been a regional spiritual leader in the Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for several years. He is currently the president of the Miami-based division of the church, which includes Haiti as one of its territories, according to the Adventist Yearbook website. He is also the chairman of the Inter-American Division’s executive committee.
Henry became president in 2018 after the previous leader, Israel Leito, retired, according to Spectrum Magazine. Henry said at the time, “It will be very difficult to walk behind such a giant as Pastor Leito but we serve a big God and we trust His leading. Thank you for your trust and please pray for me.”
Henry added, “Together with all colleagues here, we commit to keep the fire of evangelism burning, because there is a world to shine on and there is a Christ who is coming soon.”
Henry is a native of Haiti and earned his degree in theology from the Université de Strasbourg, according to Spectrum Magazine. He has served in the church for more than 40 years. Spectrum Magazine wrote, “A native of Haiti, Henry’s career began as a district pastor in Haiti. He also served as professor, conference secretary, conference president, as well as union president. Dr. Henry also served as human resources director at the IAD headquarter office while he held the position of vice president.”
The Seventh-day Adventists are a Protestant Christian denomination, which observes Saturday as the Sabbath. According to the church’s website, “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church’s understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference Session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God’s Holy Word.”
Irma Henry is a physical therapist at Hopital Adventist d’Haiti, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was born and raised in Miami and attended the Greater Miami Adventist Academy, according to her Facebook page. She said on LinkedIn that she completed her doctorate in physical therapy from Loma Linda University in California in 2018.
Before moving to work in Haiti in 2018, Henry was a student physical therapist at Avid Physical Therapy in Loma Linda, at Casa Colina and at Florida Hospital in Orlando. In 2017, Henry led a fundraiser for Haiti.
“Haiti is the land of my roots and a place where my heart lies. Growing up, I had the privilege to both see the beauty and turmoil of the land. It was difficult understanding how much struggle could exist in such a beautiful place. I believe it was then that I was impressed to someday return to Haiti and make a difference,” she wrote on the fundraiser page. “However, I was at a loss as to how I could make any difference. Fortunately, with my introduction to the field of physical therapy came the realization that there are several opportunities to use my newfound knowledge and abilities to help others. As such, this mission trip to Haiti is a perfect opportunity to fulfill this calling.”
Her goals during the trip were to help provide patient care at the hospital, to provide physical therapy at a clinic, to teach rehabilitation technicians and to help with a local orphanage project. Henry added, “I believe it is my duty as a Christian to use the skill sets and knowledge I have gained through studying PT to help those in need. Moreover, I am honored and humbled to serve my fellow countrymen.”
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