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Update on Attempt to Free American Missionaries in Haiti
Contact: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, 540-538-4741, 202-547-1735
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4  /Christian Newswire/ -- Christian leaders condemn Haitian government for charging American missionaries with kidnapping and will work for their immediate release.
Faith leaders met today with Haitian Ambassador Raymond Joseph to secure the release of ten American missionaries being held in Haitian prison.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and the Rev. Rob Schenck, President of the National Clergy Council, prayed and shared their concerns with the Ambassador.
Rev. Mahoney, who has worked with members of the Central Valley Baptist Church of Idaho on past projects, assured Ambassador Joseph that the missionaries were caring, loving Christians who were not kidnappers or traffickers.
Ambassador Joseph asked the Christian leaders to send him a letter sharing their concerns and stated he would personally forward it to Haitian leaders and officials.
(Listed below is the letter.)
    4 February, 2010
    His Excellency Raymond Joseph
    Ambassade de la Republique d'Haiti
    2311 Massachusetts Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20008
    My dear Ambassador,
    On behalf of myself, my colleague, the Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, and our combined constituency of some 90,000 member clergy and lay church leaders of the National Clergy Council, the Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action, I thank you for your gracious reception this morning at the Embassy. Please know of our continuing prayers and condolences for you, the Prime Minister, the President and all your fellow citizens.

    Rev. Mahoney and I were delighted to report to you that our members continue to donate money, supplies and equipment to relief efforts in an unprecedented way. We will renew our appeal immediately and expect they will continue to do as much and more.

    We also registered with you our deep distress and increasing concern over the detention and allegations against the church group that was admittedly transporting children to a safe haven in the Dominican Republic. This group, some of its members, their pastor, the Reverend Clint Henry, and their congregation of origin, the Central Valley Baptist Church of Meridian, Idaho, USA, are personally known to us. They are good people who have no history and no reason to engage in any action that would cause harm to children or their families. We ask the Government of Haiti to immediately release these individuals and drop any charges pending against them, as well as restore the integrity of their reputations by publicly stating such.

    Please know these individuals acted with naiveté and in an unprofessional way in their desire to rescue children in distress, but they did not do so with an intent to harm those children. These individuals may be guilty of a disregard for normal procedures, but they are certainly not guilty of criminal or immoral acts.

    We testify to these things as true based on personal knowledge. We therefore humbly appeal for their immediate release and full exoneration.

    Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter. We are,

    Very truly yours,
    Rev. Robert L. Schenck, M.A., D.D.
    Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney

The leaders continue to call upon the Obama Administration to move more aggressively to secure the Americans release and publicly state the group had no intentions of trafficking or kidnapping.

The Obama Administration's silence on this issue has slowed efforts to free these Christian missionaries.
The Christian Defense reminded Haitian leaders and officials that the people they have labeled as "kidnappers" and "traffickers" are part of the Christian community that has given millions of dollars to help their country, opened schools and medical clinics, orphanages, teaches their children and are now giving countless hours and dollars to help rebuild their country after the devastating earthquake last month.
The Haitian government should not make an "example" out of people who were only trying to help their country.
The Christian Defense Coalition in the past has worked with members of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Idaho on a variety of projects.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, states,
"We call for the immediate release of the ten American Christian missionaries now under arrest and detained in Haiti.
"The purpose for their being in Haiti is now clear. They sacrificed their own security and comfort to help the needy children of Haiti after the devastating earthquake last month.
"It is obvious that these missionaries are not traffickers or kidnappers but simply caring Christians sharing the love of God in the most difficult of situations.
"They attempted to comply with local Haitian law, to the best of their ability, as they reached out to these 33 children. They were actually arrested as they were returning back to Port-Au-Prince to secure the necessary paper work for their charitable mission.
"It is important to remind Haitian leaders, who have called the missionaries traffickers and kidnappers, that they represent the same Christian community that has given millions of dollars to help Haiti over the years. These are the same kinds of people who have helped build schools, orphanages and medical clinics in that country and who are now on the ground rebuilding their country.
"We would also ask that the Obama Administration take a more aggressive stance in securing their release and publicly affirming that these Christian missionaries are not traffickers or kidnappers."
For more information or interviews call:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741     202.547.1735