Security forces in Haiti have reported that more than a dozen American missionaries were kidnapped in the country Saturday. The attack is causing concern for those attacked and for other missionaries in the country from Central Florida.
Joe Hurston frequently flies in and out of Haiti for work with Air Mobile Ministries, which sets up water filtration stations throughout the country so more Haitians can have safe drinking water.
He remembers one time when he was nearly kidnapped.
“They used a military maneuver of swerving in front of us and jamming our car so we couldn’t move — and 12 to 14 heavily armed gunmen surrounded us and attacked us,” said Hurston.
Hurston said the recent assassination of Haiti’s president and another massive earthquake in the country in August have only led to more instability in the country. Experts say hundreds of people have been kidnapped in the country this year.
“Gangs have been in operation and they’ve really been increasing in power in the last year, and the more unstable things get the worse the gangs get,” said Hurston.
The 17 people kidnapped on Saturday, including three children, were part of Christian Aid Ministries based in Ohio.
Hurston said when he’s in Haiti, he has to stay extremely vigilant in order to stay safe.
“You have eyes in the back of your head,” he said. “You’re continually assuming you’re a target and you’re going to be kidnapped, and if you keep that type of vigilant attitude, it can get you out of some pretty bad situations before they escalate.”
Hurston said he still plans to return to Haiti in the near future, but he won’t be announcing his exact plans. Doing that could tip off potential kidnappers, he said.
“Before then I keep my itinerary very low key and out of the mainstream, because these kidnappers are smart and savvy,” he said.
Hurston is praying for those attacked in hopes they can safely escape their kidnappers, knowing it was a miracle when he was able to escape when he was nearly kidnapped.
“That just brought back so many memories of what I had gone through and I know that these folks are just in a terrible way, but our prayers are powerful,” he said.