U.S. mission groups stranded by Haiti unrest, and CNN — to its credit — reports on it

Summer is prime time for faith-based mission trips.

Many U.S. church groups — often including teens and college students — travel all the world this time of year.

I just returned from a Christian Chronicle reporting trip to Puerto Rico, where I followed a Kentucky congregation helping with Hurricane Maria relief work. While there, I noticed the news about unrest in Haiti, a country I visited just a few months ago to report on water well drilling. 

Just weeks ago, I reported on political violence prompting the cancellation of dozens of church mission trips to Nicaragua. Not so many years ago, of course, ongoing concerns over drug cartels began curtailing mission work in Mexico. 

Not too often, though, do major news organizations cover the impact of the dangerous world on church mission trips, even though there's frequently a compelling story there.

That's why I was so pleased to see CNN tackle that angle amid the Haiti unrest:

(CNN) A number of US missionary groups are stranded in Haiti after protesters took to the streets following a fuel price hike ordered by the government.
One group described burning barricades preventing them from reaching the airport in the nation's capital, Port-au-Prince.
The US Embassy in Haiti warned its citizens Saturday to stay inside amid continued demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and a northern city.
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant on Saturday announced a temporary stop to the price increases and appealed for calm. Prices for gasoline were to rise 38% while diesel prices were to go up 47% and kerosene 51%, the Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported.

Keep reading, and CNN offers several specific examples of groups caught in the conflict.

The story even contained — get ready for it — spiritual language:

Pastor Jeff McCauley told WFLA he stressed that the group was conscious that it had a purpose for being in Haiti.
"Continue to let our people, if we can't get through to them, know that we're safe and that their continued prayers are appreciated.
"We know that we're not here by accident. We know that God has us here for a reason, for a few extra days to make that clear. Maybe it's so that you can share that with people," McCauley told the station.

It's a newsy story that captures an angle that many news organizations missed.

For both local and national media, there's perhaps a bigger trend story here about safety and precautions that mission groups take — and don't take — when heeding what they see as God's calling to travel abroad.

If you see any such stories, I'd love to read them. By all means, please share links either by commenting below or tweeting us at @GetReligion.







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