HART, Mich. — In the days since five Oceana County missionaries were kidnapped in Haiti, the small town of Hart, Michigan has felt every minute of it.
"Everybody has been affected in this community," Mayor Vicki Platt says. "Because this is a situation we would never have expected our community to be in. However, it is a community that has a lot of people that are involved in missionary work."
The adult and four children were on a mission trip in the Caribbean island and were reportedly taken after leaving an orphanage this past Saturday. Now, the 17-member group is being held hostage with a $1 million ransom over each person.
Their identities aren't being released for their safety, and Mayor Platt says a sixth person from Oceana County was on the trip too.
"The only thing I know... is accurate is the dad was not with the children and the mother at the time of the kidnapping," she says. "[I learned that] he was home writing his sermon that he was to give the next day when his wife and their four children were surrounded."
Family members tell Mayor Platt that praying for all the families involved is the most important thing to them right now.
"It's more than six people from Oceana County — it's families," she says. "And he also, which I found very, very compelling, said that we will be praying for the kidnappers also. [His hope was that] this reaches their hearts and they can change."
The non-profit hosting the mission trip, Christian Aid Ministries, announced that Thursday, October 21 is a day of fasting and prayer. In a statement on their website, they said:
"We invite believers around the world to join us in seeking God for His mighty hand to work. As mentioned in previous statements, we invite continued prayer for:
- The victims—for endurance, faithfulness, and a spirit of Christlike love. Pray for their release and that they could follow the example of Jesus who said of His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
- The kidnappers—that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to Him.
- Government leaders and authorities—as they relate to the case and work toward the release of the victims."
Mayor Platt says she's thankful to hear from people across Oceana County and West Michigan. She invites anyone interested to join the community at a vigil at Hart Commons at 5 p.m. Sunday, followed by a service at Dunkard Brethren Church in Hart.
"Prayers are always, always appreciated," she says.
RELATED VIDEO: West Michigan missionary, four child kidnapped and held hostage in Haiti
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