PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Baptist
volunteer Laura Silsby has been released by Haitian authorities after a court
conviction May 17.
According to The Associated Press (AP), Silsby was convicted May 17 of
arranging to transport 33 children out of Haiti in late January, following the
Jan. 12 earthquake that ravaged the Caribbean country.
Silsby was leading a
group of 10 Baptist volunteers who were detained by authorities for allegedly
failing to obtain the needed documentation to transport the children to an
orphanage that was being started in the Dominican Republic.
Silsby, who had completed 15 full weeks in prison, was released for the time
she had served, AP reported, and was free to leave the country.
Eight others in the group were freed in mid-February and the ninth was released
in early March.
“We’re thrilled. We’re thanking the Lord. We’re humbled, and at the same time
very thankful she’s out of there. We’re very thankful to the Haitian church
because they took care of her as well,” Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside
Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, told Baptist Press.
Thompson was among those released in February, and though he hadn’t spoken
directly to Silsby since then, he received regular updates from Haitian
Christians who were able to minister to her during her days in prison.
Child kidnapping charges were dropped against all 10, but Silsby remained in
jail facing an ill-defined charge of “irregular travel.”
Thompson asked for continued prayer for Silsby upon hearing of her release.
“Pray for her adjustment at home. She still obviously has a lot of adjustments
to come home to, being in jail for such a long time. Pray for her family, for
her children,” he said.
Also, Thompson was reminded of others apart from the Idaho group who face
“I think Southern Baptists should use this moment to be reminded of the unknown
numbers of believers around the world who are in jail right now for the cause
of the gospel, and we need to be constantly in prayer for them,” he said.
Silsby is a member of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho. Four of
the other volunteers also are members of Central Valley and another four are
members of other Southern Baptist churches.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston and staff
writer Erin Roach.)