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Members of Noecker family welcomed home after being kidnapped in Haiti

Hart celebrates missionaries' return
HART PRAYER.jfif
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jan 02, 2022

HART, Mich. — The Hart community welcomed home a family of Christian missionaries from West Michigan who were kidnapped in Haiti.

The community held a luncheon and prayer service Sunday afternoon for the family that attends Dunkard Brethren Church in Oceana County.

The church earlier identified the hostages from Michigan as Cheryl Noecker, 48, along with her children Brandyn Noecker, 16, Kasondra Noecker, 14, Courtney Noecker, 18, Sheldon Noecker, 6, and Cherilyn Noecker, 27.

The family was among 17 people kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang in October while in Haiti for a mission trip with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.

According to the church, Cheryl and Sheldon were released on December 6. The four others made a daring escape a few weeks later, walking for miles until they came across help.

In an interview during Sunday’s event, Ray Noecker said a negotiated ransom was paid on December 5 to release all of the hostages, but a division within the gang resulted in only three people, including his wife and youngest son, to be released the next day.

According to Ray, he did not know who paid it or how much was given.

The Noecker family returned to west Michigan on Thursday after spending time with family for the holidays. Ray said the family plans to rely on their faith to navigate the next few weeks and months.

“We feel like God is in control of our life and we want to be doing His will,” Ray said. “One of the things that reassured me when my family was in captivity was I knew that God had called us and wanted us to be in Haiti. I had originally intended to go and do some discipleship teaching with Christian Aid Ministries teaching Haitian pastors. I was supposed to do that for six weeks but only was able to do that for two. I realized that God had a purpose bigger than my teaching, he had a work for my family to do.”

Ray said this was his family’s first trip to Haiti, but they had previously served as missionaries in Kenya for seven years. He believes the family will eventually return to service work.

“We live each day with a level of risk,” Noecker said. “Things can happen no matter where we’re at. We also need to look at the needs of the world around us.”

FOX 17 has a crew in Oceana County and you'll hear more from the family tonight on FOX 17 News at 10 p.m.

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