Rancho Santa Fe churches pay tribute to hostages with yellow ribbons

The yellow ribbons pay tribute to the 17 hostages in Haiti.

Two Rancho Santa Fe churches have adorned their entrances with 17 yellow ribbons each in recognition of 17 missionaries who are being held hostage in Haiti.

Rancho Santa Fe resident Richard Rovsek, founder of the nonprofit Spirit of Liberty Foundation, approached Horizon Church and Church of the Nativity with the idea. Both agreed.

“We did it because we believe in it,” Rovsek said. “The ribbons are up at the churches still, at the entrances, and they will be up until hopefully these missionaries come home safely. In my heart and mind, I just think — and I want to underline, it’s not political, this could be under a Republican or a Democrat — we can never leave Americans in harm’s way.”

Stephen Patterson, assistant pastor at Horizon Church, said the yellow flags will help the community “remember to pray for the safe return of these missionaries.” He added that the situation is particularly “heartbreaking” for the children who are being held hostage and their families.

According to NPR, the hostages include an 8-month-old infant, as well as children ages 3, 6, 14 and 15.

“I can only imagine the anguish and heartbreak for families in that situation,” said Patterson, who went to Haiti about four years ago as a missionary.

“It is a difficult country,” he added. “There’s a lot of poverty and not a lot of government organization.”

Sixteen of the hostages are American and one is Canadian, according to media reports. The Haitian gang that kidnapped them is demanding $17 million ransom, $1 million per person, and has threatened to kill them if that demand isn’t met.

Mike James, pastoral associate at Church of the Nativity, said the ribbons will remain “until that situation is resolved.”

The missionaries are from Christian Aid Ministries, an Ohio based organization, which issued a statement on Oct. 28.

“As we approach the two-week mark, we continue to pray that God would protect the hostages and give them grace to respond with Christ-like love in the face of evil. We pray for the kidnappers, that God would soften their hearts and draw them to Himself. Our prayers are also with the families as they wait day after day for the release of their loved ones.”