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  • Writer's pictureDavid Selvey, DMin

Missionaries Escape Haiti Civil War

Three missionaries and a Dominican pastor and a dear sister
Missionaries and their rescuers

When we made our escape from Haiti, our primary hurdle was navigating safely through the country to cross into the Dominican Republic. We strategized to steer clear of areas like Mirabalais or Port au Prince due to the rampant violence perpetrated by gangs and the escalating calls for revolution. Eventually, we managed to cross at an unofficial point, although it presented its own set of challenges. Fortunately, through divine providence, we were able to reach our destination unscathed.

Arriving at the Haitian American Friendship Foundation in Haiti on February 29, we were mindful of the unrest gripping Port au Prince, but found the Central Plateau relatively calm. Normally, we'd take Missionary Flights International from the grass airfield at Pignon, bypassing any potential ground travel risks. However, we were blindsided by the sudden unity among gangs, who issued a call for armed civilians to target law enforcement and incite revolution. The ensuing violence, unprecedented in two decades, mirrored the upheaval of the 2004 revolt against Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government.

We never expected the gangs to unite, call for everyone in Haiti with guns to kill the police, and call for revolution. The explosion of violence that occurred in the days after our arrival has not been seen in 20 years. The last revolt of this magnitude was the revolt against the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

Crossing into Dominican Republic in a dugout canoe
Dugout Canoe Border Crossing

With airports shuttered, our team's only escape route was across the Dominican Republic border, which we managed by a dugout canoe on March 7. It was not an official crossing point, so we had some complications. Nevertheless, God blessed us, and we were able to resolve the problems and fly from the Dominican Republic to the US within 48 hours.

We were compelled to part ways with one of our team members due to the closure of the Dominican Republic's border to Haitian citizens. Annexe, a Haitian national and student at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, IN, had accompanied us not only to assist in our mission but also to visit his mother, who runs an orphanage near HAFF. Despite the separation, we've ensured that Annexe has access to an office and internet connection to continue his studies online. We humbly request your prayers for Annexe's safety and for Dr Brent Aucoin, president of Faith Bible Seminary, as he endeavours to arrange distance learning opportunities and a plan to help Annexe bridge any gaps in his education.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to God for guiding us on our journey. Special thanks are due to the US Embassy in Santo Domingo, including ACS Chief Katherine Suplick, Elaine Gutierrez, and Evan in Congressman Jim Baird's office for their invaluable assistance with the Dominican authorities. Pastor Miguel Castillo of Makers and Means and pastor of Iglesia Fundamento Bíblico in Santo Domingo provided invaluable support and encouragement. We are also deeply appreciative of the countless Christians who prayed for our safe return to the US.

Dr David Selvey is the executive director of the Haitian American Friendship Foundation. His Explore Haiti program gives participants an immersive experience in cross-cultural poverty alleviation in a Gospel context. Email Dr Selvey.

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