Idaho Baptist Adoption Suspects Planned to ‘Gather’ 100 Haitian Orphans, Cross Border
February 1, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Kidnappers for Jesus? A group of Evangelical church folk from Idaho, led by personal shopper Laura Silsby, Executive Director and founder of New Life Children Refuge, descended upon the earthquake ravaged country of Haiti last week, to snatch and grab 100 orphans off of the streets and from orphanages. The Baptist group’s mission statement was to “share God’s love with these precious children, helping them heal and find new life in Christ.” However, they were only able to “gather” up 33, some of whom weren’t even orphans. The evangelical do-gooders became alleged kidnappers and child traffickers when they loaded the Haitian “orphans” on a bus and attempted to take them across the border to the Dominican Republic to the New Life Refuge orphanage, with no documents from the Haitian government. Well, the so-called orphanage turns out to be a 45-room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic that the group was renting.
The group of ten Americans from two Baptist churches based in Idaho were arrested at the border and are now in custody in Port-au-Prince Haiti, charged with child trafficking. And the group of child-snatching evangelizing Americans have set off an international firestorm in Haiti, with officials already fearful of child trafficking in the wake of the chaos in the devastated country.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says the ten Americans, although they may have had good intentions, are “kidnappers.” “God is the one who called us to come here and we just really believed that this was his purpose,” said Carla Thompson, one of the group’s arrested members.
The misguided Baptist church group, with their proselytizing “Great Commission” to save the souls of children from a deeply Catholic country, has also exposed the controversial practices of evangelical missionaries, who seek to religiously convert the recipients of their charity. The two Idaho Baptist churches supporting the mission, Central Valley Baptist Church and the East Side Baptist Church, made their intentions clear.
Rev. Clint Henry of the Central Valley Baptist Church told reporters, “we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children.”
And the Web site of the East Side Baptist Church, had a link to the mission statement of the New Life Children’s Refuge, Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission, asking for tax-deductible donations and missionary volunteers. Paul Thompson, the Pastor of East Side Baptist Church, and his teenage son Silas, are among those being held in custody by the Haitian government for child trafficking.
The link to the New Life Children’s Refuge, since removed, revealed the ambitious and careless plans of founder Laura Silsby, to “rescue Haitian orphans abandoned on the streets, makeshift hospitals or from collapsed orphanages in Port au Prince and surrounding areas, and bring them to New Life Children’s Refuge in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.” Silsby just recently incorporated the New Life Refuge in November, and there is no evidence that the organization has a website, telephone number or the financial resources to operate an orphanage in a foreign country.
Silsby and her group only planned to spend enough time in Haiti to grab any available orphans and ship them across the border to the Dominican Republic, without obtaining permission from the Haitian government:
“Sun Jan 23rd: Drive bus from Santo Domingo into Port au Prince, Haiti and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages, then return to the DR Mon Jan 24th: Bus arrives in Cabarete, DR at New Life Children Refuge.”
Silsby’s unrealistic pipe dream-plans for an orphanage facility in the Dominican Republic, involved purchasing land, building an orphanage, chapel, school and providing seaside villas and a cafe for American adoptive families to satisfy the 60-90 day stay before adopting:
“Interim New Life Children Refuge Location: NLCR is in the process of buying land and building an orphanage, school and church in Magante on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Given the urgent needs from this earthquake, God has laid upon our hearts the need to go now vs. waiting until the permanent facility is built. He has provided an interim solution in nearby Cabarete, where we will be leasing a 45 room hotel and converting it into an orphanage until the building of the NLCR is complete. This interim location will enable us to provide a loving environment for up to 150 children, from infants to 12 years old.”
“Seaside Villas at Playa Magante: Villas for adopting parents to stay while fulfilling requirement for 60-90 day visit as well as Christian volunteers/vacationing families. Provide opportunities for adoption through partnership with New Life Adoption Foundation which works with adoption agencies in the U.S. to help facilitate adoptions and provide grants to subsidize the cost of adoption for loving Christian parents who would otherwise not be able to afford to adopt.”
The prayer requests for Silsby’s Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission, reads more like an Evangelical vocation, rather than a legitimate organization to provide aid to orphaned Haitian children:
“Prayer Requests: For discernment of God’s will and direction throughout this trip and for Him to prepare the way before us, For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the DR, and For God to guide us to the children He wants us to bring to NLCR and for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing.”
The 33 Haitian children from ages 2-months to 12-years “gathered” by Silsby and her evangelical rescuers, were sent to an SOS orphanage in Port-au-Prince, where they arrived “very hungry, very thirsty, some dehydrated.” George Willeit, a spokesman for the SOS Austrian-run orphanage, said that the two-month-old infant taken by Silsby’s group was so dehydrated she needed hospitalization. And one eight-year-old girl, wasn’t an orphan at all. “And she told us, crying, that she does have parents. She says she thought she was being sent to boarding school or to summer camp,” said Willeit. And some of the other children were apparently told that they were being taken for a vacation and a respite from the devastated Haitian capital.
Many children in Haitian orphanages aren’t technically orphans, but they have been abandoned by their families who can no longer afford to feed and properly care for them. The Haitian government now requires Prime Minister Max Bellerive to authorize the removal of any child from the country, to prevent child trafficking.
Bellerive said that when the Baptist “kidnappers” were stopped and arrested at the border, some of the children asked for their parents and didn’t appear to be orphans.
The SOS orphanage is searching for the children’s families, aided by the Haitian government, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“They are very precious kids that have lost their homes and their families, and are so, so in need of God’s love and compassion and a very nurturing setting,” said Silsby, as she denied that she intended to traffic in children. Whatever the Baptist group’s intentions, their plan was reckless and illegal. And apparently Silsby and her Baptist group believed that normal laws didn’t apply to them, because they were doing God’s work.
Pastor Henry said, “God’s in control and he’ll figure it out. We are just going to trust in him.” He urged his congregation to pray to God to “help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant into their heart.”
A news update on the Web site of Central Valley Baptist Church, says that “Our team was falsely arrested today and we are doing everything we can from this end to clear up the misunderstanding that has occurred in Port au Prince.” Five of the arrested New Life Refuge members came from Central Valley Baptist Church.
Willeit also told reporters that a woman from the Baptist church group arrived in Port-au-Prince before the earthquake, with the aim of winning the trust of people in neighborhoods whose children were taken. Apparently a group member was fulfilling the prayer request for “God to guide us to the children He wants us to bring to NLCR.”
Silsby and other members of the New Life Refuge were ultimately “guided” to 33 Haitian children and intended to come back for more, according to the group’s mission statement. The New Life Refuge’s misguided and deeply flawed plan is now permanently on hold.
Haiti’s Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin condemned the actions of the Baptist group. “This is an abduction, not an adoption, said Christallin.
Photo Source: AP
(A further update to this story is available here.