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.


24 Responses to “Idaho Baptist Adoption Suspects Planned to ‘Gather’ 100 Haitian Orphans, Cross Border”

  1. Tripsy on February 2nd, 2010 1:58 am

    Great article. I am heartened by the global outrage of these (at best) reckless and selfish individuals. Child trafficing is out of control, it is good to see media attention on this global problem.

  2. Stevo on February 5th, 2010 4:46 am

    Stupid people…yeah, I’m talking about you morons who believe these people of faith are on par with some of the worst people among us.

    Hate God much?

    You are pathetic.

  3. Idaho church group accused of kidnap could be sent home for trial - Page 6 - U.S. Politics Online: A Political Discussion Forum on February 5th, 2010 7:17 am

    […] I would like to see a news piece on the orphanage she built. Here is some information: Idaho Baptist Adoption Suspects Planned to ‘Gather’ 100 Haitian Orphans, Cross Border | … […]

  4. Ted Bjorem on February 5th, 2010 7:59 am

    This article seems less an issue about those helping people and more about the beliefs that motivate us. Sue judges them guilty before they are tried.

    Yes this group was naive. But hundreds of other Christians have been there for decades through the tough times seeking to help, and doing it right. One group fortuitously had two containers, 500,00 rations, on the docks when the quake struck. (The country is 90% catholic in name only.)

    Yes the Baptist want to convince people of their beliefs, but no more so than Sue does by criticising in such a way to convince us to believe her way?

    theri prosyueltisicn with words that claim to

  5. BC on February 5th, 2010 10:29 am

    Look, these people are taking children who have parents. CBS and NBC have had photos of fliers they were passing out, promising schooling and a swimming pool. Rather than responding to children in need, they were actively enticing people to give them their children. Don’t care whether God is involved in their intentions, their approach is unethical. You don’t lie for Jesus (or, rather, Jesus does not approve of you lying for him). An ethical organization would: try to keep families together by providing for children in the community, rather than in a foreign country; be transparent as to their intentions; not entice children by offering them luxuries beyond the means of their parents; coordinate with the government and organizations to keep from child trafficking. Sounds to me like this is a Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker scheme to profit from child adoption from both the product (children) and the consumer (housing for people wanting to adopt). I hope the Haitian government throws the book at them.

  6. Nel on February 5th, 2010 10:58 am

    People do good with a religious underpinning, There are many fine Christian relief groups doing a fantastic job.

    However just because a group claims to be “doing God’s work” doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. If this was a secular group, or a Muslim group, those that are defending their actions would be calling for life in prison.

    Intent is important, but we have to get past their religion and look at their actions when forming an opinion.

  7. mudshark on February 5th, 2010 11:00 am

    Do I hate God? Why would I? I don’t believe he exists.
    Now, for these people. St00pid.
    You can’t just go into any country and start grabbing kids. I don’t care what country it is. You can’t do that.Period. Every person knows this. Crossing an international border with children with no papers or travel documents. St00pid.

    Now, for the God told me to do it reasoning. People talk to their God all the time.
    Hey, that’s their business. Have at it. If you need that kinda stuff, go for it. I hope it fills your needs. But, If I respect your right to worship any way you wish. Then I expect the same in return. Since some (not all mind you) of you religious folks can’t seem to understand that part. It’s up to you to fix it. Talking to God is no big deal.
    But when people start saying he’s/she’s talking back to them, Houston, we have a problem.

  8. mudshark on February 5th, 2010 11:03 am

    Stevo, Stevo, stevo.
    Insults only prove one thing.
    That you are filled with hate.
    Thanks for playin.

  9. beccajo on February 5th, 2010 11:21 am

    I don’t wish for these people to spend a lot of time in jail, but maybe if they stay for a while it will dawn on them that this was a reckless mission. You cannot simply go into neighborhoods, pick up children and then take them from their country into another without meeting all the standards. They cannot call these children orphans when they have parents. They lied to the older children about where they were going. They lied when they said God “told” them to do this…..they wanted to do this and their motives were obvious. They saw this as an opportunity to raise their children and make converts of them. Nowhere in the Bible did God condone such actions.

  10. Granulor on February 5th, 2010 11:26 am

    Considering that these people were caught in flagrante delicto with kidnapped children, the trial is a mere formality. They admit to committing the crime therefore they ARE criminals, therefore they ARE “the worst people among us”, Stevo. If you want to say that their actions are mitigated by their intentions, fine, but for tough-on-crime Christians to claim “because Jesus told me to” is a get-out-of-jail free card is not justice. They chose to make the rules up as they went just like any other criminal, so let them pay for it just like any other criminal.

  11. Jeff on February 5th, 2010 11:47 am

    The US forefathers were well versed and prolific in their warnings against the religious fanatic ilk to be sure:

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” – James Madison

    “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” -Thomas Jefferson

  12. Beffie on February 5th, 2010 12:06 pm

    No this article is not about hating on people of faith, it is hating on people that believe that breaking the law is their God given right.

    It is inserting themselves into a situation and acting contrary to what the people of the country have decided for themselves. This group was warned by Hatian officials not to do this without the proper documentation and they did it anyway. There is no “orphanage” there is no money to build an orphanage. Regardless of the intentions, and I leave that up to others to decide, they broke the laws of the country. If, after 9/11 someone from France came and took children that had lost parents, or whose parents were missing, from our country and brought them to Canada in the name of God, how do you think this country would react. It is not for them to decide.

    Stevo, calling those who don’t agree with you names just exposed the weakness of your argument.

  13. Nany on February 5th, 2010 1:27 pm

    I don’t think the leaders of this group are naive or misguided. They saw a great opportunity to snatch some kids and “sell them” to adoptive parents. In their business plan I’m sure there was going to be a cost for the adoptive parents. I’m also curious about the vetting system they have in place to vet the prospective adoptive parents. Probably not as stringent as U. S. adoptive policy. It is very wrong to excuse these people because they say they are Christians. Nope. They are money grubbing sociopaths that cloak their evil under the guise of religion. These Christian “sects” are all about making money. When they get caught they say ‘well, God told me to do it!.”

  14. Steve on February 5th, 2010 3:10 pm

    The issue is not really about this group’s belief in God or the particular denomination to which they belong or even the state where they live although Idaho does tend to enrage liberals for some reason. At issue should be the intent of this group, independant of whatever religious orientation they espouse. Clearly, they had not gone through established channels to remove the children from Haiti, orphans or not. Those children with one or more surviving parent had been voluntarily relenquished according to some accounts; this needs to be sorted out.

    That said, these are desperate times in this ravaged country and delays for any reason result in more people dying. My family made an immediate donation to the relief efforts for this very reason; this group of people put themselves in harms way by traveling to Haiti and until proven otherwise, we must assume they intended to help. Should they wait for a notoriously corrupt and ineffective government (even more so due to the disaster) to approve paperwork or direct their actions? How long would this take and how many more would die waiting?

    The demand for “justice” by this government and most of you sickens me; perhaps I’ll wait for Haiti to file the proper paperwork with me (in triplicate, of course) before I’ll consider putting my hard earned cash in their till.

    You all (yes I’m a Southerner, thank God) keep on hating and hoping for a long prison term; I hope you have all your ducks in a row when you are in need.

  15. s.p. on February 5th, 2010 4:39 pm

    I’m sorry, tricking parents into giving up their kids then transporting them out of the country to then profit by offering them for adoption is by definition child trafficking. These kids were traumatized and crying for their parents. They weren’t prepared to care for the them. They were hungry and dehydrated when they got to SOS childrens villages. Some needed medical attention. There are international standards in effect to deal with children that are victims of natural disasters. They showed no genuine concern for the children, only for their goals of setting up an orphanage and adoption enterprise. I don’t care what religion they are, they are traffickers.

  16. Evan on February 5th, 2010 5:36 pm

    I hope these lunatic zealots get thrown in a Haitain prison. They knew what they were doing was wrong and didn’t care because god was gooing to take care of everything. That worked out well didn’t it ? Guess he just doesn’t care about you or……he simply doesn’t exist. More likely the latter.

  17. Drasties - Dutch on the World - World on the Dutch on February 5th, 2010 8:54 pm

    […] in Haiti, the story of these Baptist missionaries from the New Life Children’s Refuge is a sick tragedy on it’s own. The Baptist church group went to Haiti to save the souls of children from the deeply Catholic […]

  18. Margaret on February 6th, 2010 8:59 am

    This is not religion; this is psychosis.

    I am a Christian and very familiar with the Great Commission. and how it’s been distorted and manipulated to serve the interests of these fringe evangelical groups.

    When God starts talking back to you–it’s time for a mental health evaluation.
    If you are motivated only by the voice of God telling you what to do, you need to be medicated.

    They are kidnappers. If they truly were Christian, they never would have gathered up little children and tried to leave the country. They thought they were above the law because their mission is to convert and save. The New Testament trumps international law in their world. A real Christian group would have worked to keep parents and children together. How dare they think God sent them on a mission to take children from their mothers. The woman running this group has no money; no orphanage, and zero credibility. She cannot be defended.

    I saw her on the news and was struck by her inability to articulate why she would do this. I heard a lot about God’s Love and what God wants her to do, but not once did she say what she wanted. God this and God that, blah blah blah…she recited it like she’d said it a million times, and it had just lost all meaning.

    Jesus had some harsh words for people that would do children harm; perhaps they missed that page in their Bible.

  19. Idaho church group accused of kidnap could be sent home for trial - Page 8 - U.S. Politics Online: A Political Discussion Forum on February 6th, 2010 11:25 am

    […] rather than the usual abandoned shack or warehouse. It may be suitable for child trafficking. Idaho Baptist Adoption Suspects Planned to ‘Gather’ 100 Haitian Orphans, Cross Border | … […]

  20. Chelsea on February 7th, 2010 4:51 pm

    What a group does is not necessarily representative of the community. Even within this particular group, it’s very possible that not everyone is on the same page.
    The BBC News brings in the perspective that many Haitians are upset the government is focusing more on this group of Americans than the disaster relief in Haiti.
    But it’s a completely different thing. The situation calls for really close scrutiny, and nothing puts people above the law. It doesn’t even make sense.
    We do want to find good intents in people. A defense attorney has been sacked for bribery. What that means? Not a good sign for me.

  21. Bryan Murphy on February 7th, 2010 5:21 pm

    Good intentions yes. Mentally ill . Possible. I’m mentally ill (takes one to know one)
    Like getting a speeding ticket, you have to pay the consequences for your actions.
    The judge usually says “Ignorance is no exception to the law.” when the “I didn’t know!” answer comes up in court.
    Feel for 8 others that trusted , had faith in her (group leaders).
    Somebody dropped a lot of money on a 6 month lease on a 45 room hotel in Dominican north coast. (on the ocean?). Will they get their money back?
    Haitian prison is a nightmare for anyone. Several of group were only in their teens.
    Sad. Really sad.especially for 8 in group that just wanted to help out with earthquake, and raised their hands the Sunday before the trip (for 3 day cruise/Gilligans Island). Wonder who played Gilligan?
    They volunteered 2 days before the group took off. Next time do a background check on group leaders
    Sad. Lifting group up in prayer daily
    Sharpsburg, GA

  22. Links 2/9/10 « Johnsenclan on February 9th, 2010 6:28 pm

    […] group of 10 Baptist missionaries say God sent them to kidnap 33 Haitian children to give them a better […]

  23. 28ravens on February 12th, 2010 9:42 pm

    Just the facts that can be reasonably verified reveal Laura Silsby as a devious, demented sociopath, a blatant liar and a “great pretender”. She pretends to be a christian but produces only the fruits of the devil. She leaves a quagmire of debt and legal actions against her and flys off to Haiti (with whose money ??? maybe the unpaid wages of those she swindled) with obvious plans of kidnapping as many children as she could get her hands on to ultimately sell them in adoptions to foreigners. She lied to the parents…with assurances they would be able to visit their children and she would keep in touch …. she apparently lied through her teeth to her traveling companions (though they seem too stupid to feel sorry for) …. she lied to the press …. she lied to the authorities …. claiming to be unaware of needing documentaion for the children and the Haitian governments permission to remove their children ( this is the whopper …. come on, what country on the planet will let you sail in and kidnap their children !!!) …. she is obviously lying about having any relationship with the Lord whatsoever ….. in fact she is a painful embarressment to sincere believers. If she gets off by playing the god card it will be a real travesty of justice.
    And why on earth would any self respecting sincere congregation of christians back and believe a woman whose life is a nightmare of financial and legal disarray??? How stupid, arrogant and dangerous are these people????

  24. Gods Playing Poker - Top Ten Instances of Christians Shooting Christianity in the Foot in 2010 on April 12th, 2011 12:24 pm

    […] well-intentioned fashion, I’m sure that this group of idiots thought some poor kids in Haiti never would have it so good if they didn’t take them out of Haiti so that they could indoctrinate them into Christianity. […]

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