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'Reunited': Minister gives update on six Hart missionaries freed from Haitian kidnappers

The Dunkard Brethren Church identified all members of the West Michigan family for the first time, six of whom had been taken hostage.

HART, Mich. — The minister of Hart's Dunkard Brethren Church gave an update Tuesday on the six freed missionaries from West Michigan.

He said the family has been re-united, and they are all in good health and good spirits.

The Dunkard Brethren Church identified all members of the West Michigan family for the first time, six of whom had been taken hostage. They were among the 17 missionaries abducted by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang in October. 

Cheryl Noecker was abducted, along with five of her children, Brandyn, Kasondra, Courtney, Shelden and Cherilyn. Their ages have not yet been confirmed. Their father, 50-year-old Ray Noecker, was also in Haiti at the time, but was not abducted because he was in another location when the family was kidnapped.

He released a statement that was read by Minister Ron Marks, saying, "I want to thank everyone who joined together to pray for the protection and release of the hostages. Please continue to pray for those in Haiti and round the world who are still being held against their will."

Four of the six Noecker family members were part of a daring escape late last week where they walked for miles in rough terrain. The other two, Cheryl Noecker and her 6-year-old son, Sheldon Noecker, were released nearly two weeks ago. 

In a statement, Ray Noecker said that his family is looking forward to celebrating Christmas after the ordeal, especially since they missed the Thanksgiving holiday together. 

Carleton Horst, a friend and spokesperson of the family, sat with Minister Ron Marks from the Hart Dunkard Brethren Church to give an update from the family.

"I was encouraged," said Horst, "as I heard that they had were able to spend a lot of time singing and praying together. From what I heard, they were all able to spend time together as as a group, they were not kept in separate areas. So that was a blessing as well, they were able to encourage one another."

On Monday, leaders with Christian Aid Ministries, the group responsible for organizing the mission trip to Haiti in October, said the hostages have forgiven their captors.

"From what I know of the family," said Horst, "I don't see this as being the thing that will stop them from continuing to reach out outside of outside of the US."

"My thoughts with the kidnappers has been just to continue to pray for them," he added. 

According to Ron Marks, the Noecker's father said they aren't home just yet but they plan to return to West Michigan sometime before the new year.


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