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Detainees say some govt. approvals were given
Baptist Press
February 03, 2010
6 MIN READ TIME

Detainees say some govt. approvals were given

Detainees say some govt. approvals were given
Baptist Press
February 03, 2010

WASHINGTON — A

10-member Baptist team being detained in Haiti remained in custody as of

mid-afternoon Feb. 2.

There were no reports

whether the Baptist volunteers appeared before a Haitian judge Feb. 1 as had

been expected over accusations of unlawfully attempting to transport 33

children from the earthquake-ravaged country into neighboring Dominican

Republic.

The leader of the

volunteer team, Laura Silsby from Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian,

Idaho, was quoted in video reports posted on CNN and The New York Times

websites Feb. 1 as describing their Christian motives in traveling to Haiti to

aid orphans after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Silsby told a CNN

reporter, “We believe that we have been charged very falsely with trafficking,

which of course that is the furthest possible extreme, because, I mean, our

hearts here — we literally all gave up, you know, everything we had, I mean,

income, used of our own funds to come here and help these children and by no

means are any part of that horrendous practice.”

The reporter said authorities

had permitted the team to be interviewed.

Of the 33 children the

team was seeking to aid, Silsby said, “They really didn’t have any paperwork.

This is, again, probably a misunderstanding on my part, but I did not really

understand that that would really need to be required.”

A Haitian officer accompanies Baptist detainee Laura Silsby as she speaks with a reporter in a video shown on KTVB in Boise, Idaho.

Told by the CNN

reporter that at least 10 of the children had a mother or father and a

telephone number, Silsby said, “I can tell you our heart and our intent was to

help only those children that needed us most, that they had lost either both

mother and father, or had lost one of their parents and the other parent had

abandoned them.”

Regarding the team’s

encounter with a Haitian pastor who directed them to the children, Silsby said,

“We felt like it was a very God-appointed meeting.”

In the video posted at

The Times website, Silsby said, “The entire team deeply fell in love with these

children. They are very, very precious kids that have lost their homes and

their families and are so, so deeply in need of, most of all, God’s love and

His compassion and a very nurturing setting.”

A video with comments

by Silsby also was posted at the website of KTVB in Boise, Idaho, on Jan. 31.

“We have been told by a

number of people, officials, that it was OK for the pastor to sign that he was

entrusting them into our care,” Silsby said, “and the Dominican Republic had

already approved that we would be able to care for those children in the

Dominican Republic.”

In addition to Silsby,

four other members of Central Valley Baptist Church were being detained:

Charisa Coulter, Carla Thompson and Nicole and Corinna Lankford. The team also

included three members from Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho,

pastor Paul Thompson, his son Silas and church member Steve McMullen. Media in

Topeka, Kan., have reported that one of the detainees is Drew Culbert, a

firefighter who also is an assistant youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church. The

10th detainee is Jim Allen, a businessman from Amarillo, Texas, according to

media reports there.

Coulter, in a video

posted by the Associated Press, was briefly interviewed while on a stretcher. A

diabetic, Coulter was described by the AP reporter as having suffered from

severe dehydration or the flu.

Coulter told the

reporter, “I’m really praying that we’ll be able to take these kids out and we’ll

be able to provide a safe and loving home for these kids who have nothing and

that all charges will be dropped and that they will see our hearts.”

Thompson was briefly

quoted in the CNN report as saying, “God is the one who called us to come here

and we just really believe this was His purpose.”

At Central Valley

Baptist Church’s website, the following announcement from Jan. 29 continued to

be displayed Feb. 2: “A ten member church team traveled to Haiti to help rescue

children from one or more orphanages that had been devastated in the earthquake

on January 12. The children were being taken to an orphanage in the Dominican

Republic where they could be cared for and have their medical and emotional

needs attended to. 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.”

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