Highway Robbery: Contending With Unrest in Haiti

Prayer and a flight change got a team of missionaries safely to the airport, but the struggle in Haiti is far from over.

From Message magazine issue "Restricted"

“Pop! Pop!” It sounded like a toy gun—the kind with a cork on the end.

But the noise that ABWE medical missionary Jack Sorg heard that day in Haiti was not from a toy. It was a real gun, fired from men in a real battle up the hill just behind them.

“I was on a survey trip in Haiti with Ismael . . . a dear friend of mine, to scope out several possible future ministries,” Jack said. He and his team had landed in-country the same day barricades were going up for a major protest against the government. They figured the demonstrations would probably end in a day or two—but the morning of the fourth day rolled around, and with it came the news that the protesters had no plans of stopping.

To make matters worse, the situation was escalating.

“Ismael’s brother heard we were in town and visited—with much difficulty. After lunch, he left [to return home], but an hour later called to say that he was at the police station.” He had just been robbed at gunpoint by four men—thieves who had set up a fake protest barricade. When people stopped to negotiate with them about driving around it, they would brandish their guns and rob them.

Jack’s team was scheduled to leave that day. Ismael’s brother had called to warn the team about the barricade because it stood between them and the airport.

“We prayed steadily about what to do. By faith, we called the airlines and changed our tickets for later that afternoon,” Jack said. Their hosts found a local man to drive them to the airport—someone who they said might know the men at the barricade and could successfully negotiate their way through. Still praying, Jack and his team climbed into his car.

“The extra time spent in trying to find this man turned out to be crucial,” Jack said. “Just minutes before we arrived at the fake barricade, the police had shown up. From behind a telephone, one policeman motioned for us to stop about a quarter of a mile up the road. I could hear the sound of gunfire coming down from high up on the hill next to us as police chased the robbers over the crest.”

The policeman eventually stepped out from behind the pole and began casually walking down the road away from the team. Assuming that meant it was safe to proceed, the team’s driver cautiously headed towards the barricade. When he did not meet any resistance, he drove into the ditch around it and then sped on down the road.

“Our trip to the airport was the fastest that I had ever had,” Jack said, “as our driver matched the horn with the accelerator.”