“It is dangerous — it always has been. But God is a big God, and he is able to keep us safe.”
Latest on Haiti, and anabaptist missionaries, w/ @publicroad https://t.co/98s5v1ZZXk
As a journalist who covers religion, I’ve been blessed to report firsthand from countries such as Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua and South Africa.
As a result, when violence and war flare in those places, the news doesn’t seem a million miles away. Instead, I envision real people and places.
The same is true of Haiti, where I reported on a well-drilling ministry in 2018. We took safety precautions, but I never felt unsafe as I traveled with a U.S. mission team in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
Three years later, circumstances have changed in that impoverished Caribbean nation, rocked in recent months by a presidential assassination and natural disasters.
The latest: a gang’s kidnapping of six men, six women and five children working with Christian Aid Ministries, a global missionary organization based in Millersburg, Ohio. A gang leader has threatened to kill the hostages if a ransom of $1 million per head is not paid.
Coverage of the mission group by the New York Times’ Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias resonates with me.
”Christian missionary workers typically labor in obscurity, running medical clinics, building wells and delivering Bibles without fanfare — until crisis erupts,” Graham and Dias write.
Here at ReligionUnplugged.com, Michael Ray Smith talks to missions leaders about the surging number of kidnappings in Haiti, where gangs have gained control of roughly half the capital.
Other related stories that help explain what’s happening:
• As abductions in Haiti increase, churches and ministries find themselves in the crosshairs (by Jamie Dean, World)
• An around-the-clock prayer effort to save the Haiti hostages (by Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, New York Times)
• As gang threatens violence, families of captured missionaries ask for continued prayers (by Carol Thompson, Detroit News)
• Gangs threaten to tip Haiti into a failed state (by Ryan Dube and José de Córdoba, Wall Street Journal)
• Kidnapped Americans part of 40-year-old, U.S.-based missionary group (by Mark A. Kellner, Washington Times)
• Why people keep going to Haiti, despite the obvious danger (by Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press)
Power Up: The Week’s Best Reads
1. Are internet services as good as church?: That’s the question that ReligionUnplugged.com executive editor Paul Glader and Ugandan reporter John Semakula explore in the Houses of Worship column in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Such services “open the door to more congregants but provide an attenuated worship experience,” the Journal piece notes. Read an expanded version of that essay later today here at ReligionUnplugged.com.
2. Christian schools boom in a revolt against curriculum and pandemic rules: New York Times religion writer Ruth Graham, who is based in Dallas, recently spent time at fast-growing Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy in Moneta, Va.
“I wanted to know more about what seemed to be a broader boom,” Graham said on Twitter.
Also interesting: Detroit Free Press higher education writer David Jesse’s in-depth coverage of “Why some small conservative Christian colleges see growth where other schools see declines.”
3. Small churches continue growing — but in number, not size: “The average U.S. church and the average U.S. churchgoer are headed in opposite directions,” notes Lifeway Research’s Aaron Earls. “Congregations are increasingly small, while remaining churchgoers are increasingly headed toward larger churches.”
Read more coverage of the most recent Faith Communities Today survey by Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron.
CONTINUE READING: “Ransom Demands And Prayers: The Kidnapping Of A Mission Group In Haiti” by Bobby Ross, Jr., at Religion Unplugged.
Tagged: Anabaptist, kidnapped, Haiti, The New York Times, missionaries, Michael Ray Smith, gangs, Mark Kellner, Mitch Albom, Wall Street Journal, Religion Unplugged, Ruth Graham, Christian schools, Lifeway, RHS
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