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'It's terrible in so many ways' | East Tennessee missionary prays for the safety of those kidnapped in Haiti

Joe Hurston, founder of Airmobile Ministries, says he and his organization also faced gang violence while in Haiti.

SNEEDVILLE, Tenn. — Seventeen members of the Ohio-based group called Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday. 

“It's terrible in so many ways,” Joe Hurston, an East Tennessean who has done missionary work in Haiti for over 40 years, said. He also knows members of Christian Aid Ministries. 

Authorities believe they were abducted by a Haitian gang called 400 Mawozo. 

"I think they may be a little bit surprised what kind of media and news this has gotten," Hurston said. "I think it's kind of put them into an awkward position where they're kinda doomed if they do and doomed if they don't, so I'm just praying that somehow or the other their eyes will be opened and they will just let these guys go."

Hurston lives in Sneedville and can relate to what those people are going through. Hurston is the founder of Airmobile Ministries, a Christian group that works to provide clean drinking water to those in third-world countries. When they were headed home, he says a gang of Haitians targeted his organization about 15 years ago. 

“At one time, I had a gun, a .45 to this temple, a .38 to this temple, and an M-1 carbine to my heart,” Hurston said. “And we miraculously escaped. So I can't urge prayer enough in this situation."

Hurston added he has been attacked 9 times in Haiti and expects to be kidnapped or attacked every time he travels to the nation.

"I think they may be a little bit surprised what kind of media and news this has gotten. I think it's kind of put them into an awkward position where they're kinda doomed if they do and doomed if they don't. So I'm just praying that somehow or the other their eyes will be opened and they will just let these guys go," Hurston said.

Since the assassination of Haiti’s president and a recent earthquake, the cases of gang violence and kidnappings have increased. 

“It happens to people that have money. But you'll find that they're kidnapping children,” Hurston said. 

Haitian officials say of those seventeen people kidnapped, some were children. 

A spokesperson from the U.S Department of State says finding those missionaries is on the highest of priorities. As for Hurston, he will continue to hope for a positive outcome.