In Plain Prayer: Why Missionary Families Are Showing Love to Haiti Kidnappers

Response of Christian Aid Ministries and supporters reveals three Anabaptist distinctives that other Christians should find both familiar and thought provoking.

Like many others, we have been following the story of the 12 adults and five children associated with Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) who were kidnapped in Haiti on October 16 and are being held for ransom. The situation is difficult to contemplate, and we join countless individuals around the globe in praying for their release.

Unfortunately, circumstances in Haiti have allowed kidnapping to become all too common, routinely placing the lives of locals—and sometimes those of foreigners—at risk. But although the CAM abduction story fits a sad pattern of sorts, the official response has provoked queries from both religious and secular observers.

The nature and tone of CAM’s public statements and the prayer requests from the captives’ families have surprised many people because they have included prayer for the kidnappers and a desire to extend love and forgiveness to the gang members holding the 16 Americans and one Canadian captive.

Yet these responses did not surprise us. To be clear, we do not personally know any of those being held captive by the gang known as 400 Mawozo, nor are we privy to the private conversations of their relatives. However, the content of the public prayers and the calls to pray for the captives reflect deeply rooted Anabaptist dispositions that we believe the wider Christian community would find both surprisingly familiar and thought provoking.

From Ohio to the world

CAM is a relief and service organization supported by many churches on the more conservative side of the contemporary Anabaptist spectrum—plain-dressing traditionalist Mennonites, Amish-Mennonites, Dunkard Brethren, and not a small number of Old Order Mennonites and Amish. Along with Mennonite Central Committee …

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