Currents News Staff
Seventeen American and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti are now free. Some were released and others made a daring escape. One man who got away from the gang is from about 100 miles outside Portland, Oregon and now — he’s finally home.
“It was with great joy and deep thankfulness to God that I confirm that all seventeen staff members of Christian Aid Ministries who were held hostage in Haiti by the 400 Mawozo Gang are free,” said David Troyer, General Director of the organization.
Angela Rhodes is running her store with a lot more ease knowing Austin Smucker, one of the kidnapped missionaries, is home.
“She texted me first thing and told me that they were, that they were out,” Angela said.
Angela opened up “Penelope’s Soap and Such” last February and sells homemade candles from her friend Laura Smucker. When she found out Laura’s 27 year old son Austin was kidnapped in Haiti, it didn’t seem real.
“All these simple things that you think about when you go out of the country,” she said, “and then it’s like one day, and she tells me that he’d been taken, and I’m like, ‘What? And we were worried about antibiotics?'”
News spread about Austin, and people from all over the country started donating money and buying Laura’s candles.
But Austin’s safety was always the main focus.
“She’d just come,” Angela said, “and, and I’d say, ‘What’s happening?’ And she goes either, ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘I can’t talk to you about any of it because it just puts their life in, in danger if I say a word.'”
Austin and the other Christian Aid Ministry Members were initially captured on Oct. 16 when a violent Haitian gang surrounded them at a road block.
After two months in captivity, the group slipped out the door, put the three young children on their back, and hiked nearly 10 miles using just a landmark and the moonlight to find their way. The group discussed escaping several times, but Austin never felt like it was the right moment. On the day they finally escaped, it was Austin who gave the group the okay.
“And he’s like, ‘Nope, I think we should go,” Angela said, “and they just walked out.'”
She says Austin lost 20 pounds while being held hostage, but something else in him changed as well.
“And then something that stuck out to me was probably at the beginning of this,” she said, “he was not in a leadership position cause he was just a kid, and there was older people, but um, he was in the end because they listened to him.”