Entries in missionary (3)


Friend: Texas Missionaries Killed in Mexico Knew They Were in Danger

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MONTERREY, Mexico) -- A dedicated Texas missionary couple strangled in their Mexico home knew how much danger they were in, but refused to leave the people they cared for, according to a friend from their sponsor church in Texas.

"They had opportunities to return, but these are their people.  It would be like abandoning family.  We don't abandon family," Karen Mosley, the secretary for Liberty Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas, told ABC News. "We lost a couple of great prayer warriors."

John Casias, 76, and Wanda Casias, 67, were found dead at their home near Monterrey, Mexico, on Tuesday by one of their 10 children.  They had been living and working in Mexico for about 30 years.

It was the second time in a year that an American missionary was killed in Mexico.  Nancy Davis, 59, was shot in the head in January 2011 when she and her husband were attacked at an illegal road block.

"They had all kinds of updated security measures, which makes us all believe it was somebody he knew or he wouldn't have let them in," Mosley said.  She said they lived on a walled property and had a gate.

Mosley said church members used to go on missions every other year to the area where the Casias couple lived, until about four years ago when things became too dangerous for them to travel there.  Fighting between drug cartels over the past few years made Monterrey an extremely dangerous place.

"John doesn't allow visitors to come to his place anymore.  It's that bad," Mosley said.  "There are no more policemen, they're all dead. The last mayor was murdered. All they have there are soldiers."

The couple had discussed what they wanted, should anything ever happen to them, with members of the church, Mosley said. The couple said that if they were to be kidnapped, they did not want anyone to pay ransom for them.

"They would not allow it," Mosley said. "They knew it was dangerous. They were just cautious and they made a pact."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Costa Rica: American Students Drown, One Missing

Goodstock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Costa Rica) -- Authorities searched for a missing Ohio student off the coast of Costa Rica on Thursday after two of his classmates drowned when they were caught in a violent riptide.

The three teens -- Caity Jones, James Smith and Kai Lamar -- are all high school students at Patriot Preparatory Academy, a Christian charter school in Columbus, Ohio. They, along with other classmates, were on a school-sponsored missionary trip and were swimming at a beach near the Pacific coast town of Parrita.

"From what I understand they were all out in the water, all eight kids and four adults. A rip tide grabbed five of them. The lifeguard rescued two of them. Caity washed up on shore yesterday and the boys have been missing," said Sandy Shoaf, the mother of James Smith.

The body of Jones, 17, was discovered Wednesday, and the body of Smith, 16, was found Thursday, said Jesus Escalona, spokesman for the Costa Rican Red Cross. When reached by phone, Smith's family was not aware that his body had been found and identified. The American Embassy had made them aware Thursday morning that a second body had been found but had not told them the identity of the body, Shoaf said.

"He's a great kid. He lived his life for Jesus from the minute he woke up in the morning until the minute he went to sleep at night. He wanted to be a youth pastor and he was in Costa Rica on his first mission trip," Shoaf said, fighting back tears.

Shoaf's husband and the family's pastor are en route to Costa Rica searching for answers about their son. All 12 of the people on the missionary trip were set to return Thursday night. They had been in Costa Rica for about a week, Shoaf said.

"They were going to orphanages and handing out toys and books and crayons to kids and helping build a church," she said.

Kai Lamar, 16, is the teen who is still missing.

Twenty-five Red Cross rescue workers are continuing the search, said Escalona, aided by two Costa Rican Coast Guard vessels and two police aircraft. The U.S. Coast Guard has pledged to support the search effort.

Drownings have long been a problem on Costa Rica's beaches, resulting from a lack of trained lifeguards. Some 47 people have drowned already this year, according to the Red Cross.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Christian Missionary Mistaken for Jewish by Palestinian Killers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Four Palestinian men have been indicted in the stabbing death of American woman Kristine Luken, who the suspects say was killed because they thought she was Jewish.

Luken, 44, was a Christian missionary working in Israel.

Four more Palestinians, all from the West Bank, have been arrested for providing logistical support to the alleged killers, but have yet to be indicted.

Luken was stabbed to death while hiking in a forest outside Jerusalem with a friend, Kaye Susan Wilson, Dec. 17, 2010.

Israeli police tell ABC News they arrested two men who confessed to the murder within 48 hours of the attack, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes.

"The cell's activity had an initial criminal orientation," Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said. But after the killing of Hamas leader El Mabhouh in Dubai, for which Hamas holds Israel responsible, "the cell decides to kill in revenge for [that]," Rosenfeld said.

El Mabhouh was a senior Hamas military commander. He was assassinated Jan. 10, 2010, shortly after checking into a five-star hotel in Dubai under a fake name. No one has been arrested in the killing.

The indictment states that two suspects, Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, "decided to enter Israel illegally in order to kill Jews."

In a forest inside Israel but adjacent to the West Bank they encountered Luken and Wilson. Wilson "tried to convince them they were not Jewish, in order to convince them not to hurt them," according to the indictment, but one of the suspects grasped at a Star of David necklace around her neck, saying, "What's this?"

The suspects then stabbed both women repeatedly, killing Luken, according to the indictment. Wilson, badly wounded, played dead, eventually reaching another group of hikers before she collapsed and was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds in her chest.

The cell is accused in a string of murders, rapes, robberies and shooting attacks against the Israeli military and Jewish civilians dating back to 2009. Some of the attacks took place in the same area where they killed Luken.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio