Missionaries kidnapped in Haiti have Northeast Ohio ties
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The FBI is on the ground in Haiti working to secure the release of 16 Americans and one Canadian who were abducted while working as missionaries at an orphanage in a country where kidnappings have become relatively common.
Among those abducted are five children, seven men and five women who are associated with the Christian Aid Ministries, which is based in Millersburg in Holmes County about 80 miles south of Cleveland.
A representative from Christian Aid said that they would not be available for interviews, but asked for ongoing prayers for the members of their community, who were evidently kidnapped for ransom in the poverty-stricken country.
Outside of the ministry offices, a young woman, who identified herself as a missionary who had traveled to Morocco and Africa said she prayed God would give those kidnapped the courage to withstand their ordeal.
“It is provoking me and my friends to pray and trust that God is going to give the strength they need to be faithful to the truth that we believe even if means their own life being taken,” she said.
Tracey Herstich, an assistant clinical professor of nursing at Walsh University in North Canton and a pediatric nurse practitioner has been to Haiti 10 times to serve in the nation’s orphanages.
She began her work while employed at Akron Children’s Hospital and was so inspired that when she left the hospital and joined the University, she organized groups of student nurses to travel to Haiti to help children deal with extreme poverty.
Her heart breaks for those who have been abducted.
“You know the people going down there are going with a heart to serve people who are less fortunate than them and to bring human dignity and to try and restore it to people living in poverty,” said Herstich.
Herstich said her last trip to Haiti was two years ago.
It became much too dangerous to continue to take students into that environment.
She hopes to go back soon, but she is really hopeful of a safe return for the kidnapped missionaries.
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