Diaspora

Story on Christian Hostages Freed in Haiti Continues, AP Confirms Ransom Paid – Yonkers Times

Now Associated Press reporter Peter Smith’s story on Jan. 5 confirms that indeed a Good Samaritan came forward to pay a ransom. Christian Aid Ministries, (CAM), the Ohio based organization who had sponsored the Haiti mission, had denied or refused to answer questions about whether a ransom was paid in the days leading up to the Dec. 20 release of the last 12 of the 17 hostages.
Five hostages were released prior to the Dec. 16 release of the remaining 12 hostages. They were captured on Oct. 16.
Smith was able to get employees from CAM to confirm that a ransom had been paid, and in his coverage, he referenced out story. “While CAM officials have described it as a dramatic escape, a Dec. 30 column in the Yonkers Times of New York cited an unnamed source as saying the gang deliberately left the door unguarded and allowed the 12 to walk to freedom in fulfillment of the ransom deal,” writes Smith. https://apnews.com/article/religion-kidnapping-haiti-2360fc5e2f4ab33e7008e3b1bbbc2f8a.
Our story focused on why 16 Americans, and 1 Canadian were being held for 60 days, with relatively no coverage in the American media, or no discussion from the US Government. After our story was posted, we receieved numerous emails and inquiries, the most relevant coming from
A source with direct knowledge of the negotiations involved with the gang holding the Christians hostage,  the 400 Mawozo gang, contacted us to explain that a Good Samaritan who did not know any of the hostages but simply wanted to help secure their release had come forward.
Our source, who we call Emma, explained that Americans with experience in Haiti worked back channels and were able to secure a ransom payment in exchange for the release of the remaining 12 hostages, who were allowed to walk away.
Emma said that the Good Samaritan did not want his identity known, but did want it known that a ransom was paid and that the hostages did not escape. And that account was finally confirmed by CAM in Smith’s story.
“In the course of this whole thing, there was Christian Aid Ministries’ no-ransom policy,” Philip Mast, a CAM Executive Committee member, said in a recent talk at Mt. Moriah Mennonite Church in Crossville, Tennessee. But “there was a donor who offered to take the negotiations and deal with the situation, and so CAM accepted that offer, and it was turned over to another party to deal with it,” he continued. “Yes, there was ransom paid, but I don’t think (the gang members) had the intention of releasing the prisoners,” writes Smith.
For two weeks, CAM had left open the idea that the hostages escaped through divine intervention, and there comment to Smith that they didn’t think that the gang would release the prisoners even if a ransom was paid, leaves that idea unresolved.
But our story points to a different way of God intervening for the hostages, through the Good Samaritan, who stepped forward for now reason but out of an act of kindness and paid the ransom. And after the ransom was paid, the hostages were freed.
To the more than 50 of our readers who have emailed me disagreeing with my coverage and sticking by the claim that no ransom was paid, I would point to Smith’s story. Smith is a trusted and reliable journalist who has covered religion for decades. So if you don’t trust my coverage, perhaps you can trust his.
Smith writes about my story that, “The person, whom the paper described as someone with “direct and detailed knowledge” of the case, said if the gang hadn’t allowed them to leave, someone would have reported the escapees before they reached safety.” An unreliable account of this story is that the Gang members looked the other way while the hostages escaped, and that on their 10 mile journey to freedom, nobody from the gang would have noticed them and picked them up. A much more believable account is that a ransom was paid, the door was unlocked and they were allowed to leave and walk to freedom.
But I would also ask those who have emailed to consider the other path that God may have used saved the hostages. As Barb P, wrote to us,  “Hello Dan, I appreciated your article on the captives. It definitely was a little disappointing that the escape story was a fabrication, but your encouragement to still see God’s hand in it all is exactly right! That they all made it back unharmed is a total answer to prayer.  Happy New Year! Barb P.”

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