Missionaries throughout Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas look forward to the weekly arrivals of planes flown by Agape Flights, a Florida ministry founded in 1980 that shuttles mail, medicines, cargo, relief supplies and other resources.
But one of its planes won’t be flying any more. It was burned in Haiti by demonstrators protesting the country’s increasing violence and kidnappings, which increased 180% in 2021, according to a report from Florida TV station WWSB.
The Piper Chieftain was moving at the Antoine Simon Airport in Les Cayes on Haiti’s southern coast when demonstrators attacked. Seven Agape Flights employees are safe and staying with missionaries until they can safely leave the country.
Violent demonstrations and riots often accompany the anniversary of the signing of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution. Conditions are more tense this year following two tragedies in 2021: an August earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and the July killing of President Jovenel Moïse. His murder has not been solved, and citizens complain that his successor, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has proven unable to control the country’s gangs.
A missionary told Agape Flights the attack on their plane may have been a case of mistaken identity by frustrated citizens.
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“People are mad that the roads are blocked by gangs, and the only way to travel to the Southern part of the country is via air. They assume the airlines control the gangs and are profiting off of the insecurities. Agape’s plane happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are also hearing that they thought it was a politician’s plane.”
The ministry’s website posted a page about the attack saying, “Agape love does not stop due to circumstances. Even when rioters in Les Cayes Haiti destroy Agape’s Chieftain aircraft.”
“After Agape’s team has safely returned to the United States, we will share more information and pictures,” the statement says. “Until then, we appreciate your patience, understanding and especially your prayers.”
The page also asks donors to help the ministry replace the plane.
Agape Flights had revenue of $3.5 million in 2020, down from $3.7 million in 2019. The ministry provides audited financial reports and federal 990 forms on its website. It has been an ECFA member since 2014.
This article originally appeared at MinistryWatch.
Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.