The remaining twelve members of a group of 17 Christian missionaries and children abducted by an armed gang in Haiti have escaped from their captors.

At a press conference on 20 December the captives – workers from the US-based Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) – outlined how they had successfully slipped away from their captors during the night of 15 December.

Deston Showalter, a spokesman for CAM, outlined that the missionaries felt guided by God to make the escape attempt. “At times they felt God prepared a path before them,” said Showalter. “God was leading them.”

Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The island has the worst global record for kidnapping, with gangs active across Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas [Image credit: UN]

Miraculously, all twelve hostages – including a 10-month-old baby and two young children – were able to open a door that was kept closed and blocked, and make it out of the small room in which they were being held without guards noticing.

They travelled, said Showalter, for two hours through “woods and thickets, working through thorns and briars”. The baby was wrapped in a blanket to protect her from the thorns.

Quoting one of the twelve, Showalter reported that the missionaries were “in gang territory the whole hike”, yet were able to avoid re-capture.

Towards the morning the group was able to make contact with the authorities, and were flown back to the US on 16 December.

“In their mind, the true hostages are those who took them,” added Showalter. “Our prayer is the hostage-takers be transformed. We choose to extend forgiveness to them. We would love for them to become brothers in Christ.”

The missionaries and their driver were abducted by the notorious 400 Mawozo gang, known for carrying out kidnappings and killings in the region, on 16 October. The Christian group comprised 16 Americans and one Canadian and included five children.

They were kidnapped shortly after leaving an orphanage where they ministered to children and ensured that aid sent had arrived safely.

Two members of the group were previously released on Sunday 21 November, and three more on 5 December.

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This article originally appeared on Barnabas Fund/News