WHEN news first broke last Saturday that a group of 17 missionaries had been kidnapped in Haiti, few details were provided about the group that sent them into the country.
But now its been revealed that Christian Aid Missionaries, CAM, based in Ohio, became mired in a sex abuse scandal in 2019 after one of its employees, Jeriah Mast, above, was indicted in the US on seven felony charges of gross sexual imposition and seven misdemeanor charges of sexual imposition involving children.
Worse, according to NBC News, two of his managers knew “for years” that he had a history of sexual offences against minors but still allowed him to serve their organisation as a missionary in Haiti.
Those crimes, which according to court documents allegedly involved children under the ages of 16 and some under 13, took place in Ohio between 1998 and 2008.
Mast, now serving a nine-year-sentence, also faced allegations of sexually abusing minors during his time serving Christian Aid Ministries in Haiti.
At the time Christian Aid Ministries’ board of directors wrote in statement dated July 9, 2019:
It is already well known that our former employee, Jeriah Mast, has confessed to molesting boys while working for our organization in Haiti.
The same letter said that two CAM managers had known about Mast’s behavior since 2013, when he confessed to Christian Aid Ministries staff to “sexual activity” with boys under the age of 18 “that had taken place several years prior in Haiti.”
The managers did not return NBC‘s repeated calls and messages seeking comment.
According to accounts from both Christian Aid Ministries and Mast’s church in Millersburg, Shining Light Christian Fellowship, Mast confessed to his church immediately upon returning to the US that he had sexually abused boys.
On June 12, 2019, Shining Light issued a statement that said:
The horrible deeds that Jeriah Mast has done and confessed are sins before God and against young boys … Within 24 hrs. after arriving in the USA, Jeriah began voluntarily confessing hidden sins.
Jeriah went through a couple days of deep repentance. He confessed multiple instances of immoral sexual relationships with boys, which began in his youth. He acknowledged to living a life of deception and hypocrisy. He also confessed that he lied to cover up his sins.
Jeriah spent hours on his face weeping and wailing over his sins and feeling such remorse over the hurt he caused so many people. With time, he was able to reach out in faith and believe that Jesus shed His blood for his sins, and that God can forgive him.
Following his repentance, Jeriah requested discipleship and accountability from the church to help build him up spiritually and to free him from this addiction.
Because of the sins that were committed and the victims that were abused, an appointment was made to report this to our local Sheriff Department. Jeriah voluntarily went in person for an interview and confessed to a local detective and an FBI agent (including giving names of victims).
We, as a ministry team, prepared a Restoration Plan with strict parameters to hold Jeriah accountable, ensuring that all abuse stops. A support team has been put in place to implement this plan. Jeriah is being accounted for at all times by the support team. He is not permitted to be alone with minor boys. Jeriah is going to a licensed counselor for further treatment. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement.
To the victims in Haiti: we are very sorry for the hurt that Jeriah has brought into your life. Jeriah has repeatedly expressed remorse for all the pain and hurt he has caused you. We are praying that God would bring healing and restoration to you.
Effort is being made to bring healing and restoration to the victims.
Mast was not charged for his crimes in Haiti because CAM gave cash settlements of $10,000 to five of his victims.
The Mast scandal came to light at the bottom of report in The Washington Times yesterday. It said CAM had apologised for not being aware of Mast’s behavior in Haiti and had forked out more than $400,000 to assist with housing and other forms of restitution.
CAM confirmed in a May 28, 2020, statement that an-out-court settlement had been reached in Haiti.
In past months, we have continued to respond to the needs of other victims who have come forward. To date, CAM has provided $420,000 to help with housing, funding small business startups, relocation to other places, vocational training, and restitution.
Our prayer continues to be that victims will experience healing and be whole physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
CAM’s website says:
CAM strives to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world. This is in response to the command, “ … do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Today the BBC reports that a “notorious gang” is behind the kidnap of the missionaries.
The five men, seven women and five children were returning from a visit to an orphanage when they were abducted.
Officials say they are being held by the 400 Mawozo gang – also blamed for the kidnap of Catholic clergy in April.