Pastor Held Hostage in Egypt Tells Story in Somerville
Rev. Michel Louis and Lissa Alphonse, of Everett, who were held hostage in Egypt for four days, attended a celebratory service in Somerville Sunday night.
Rev. Michel Louis, the Dorchester minister who was held hostage in Egypt for four days earlier this month, was in Somerville Sunday night to tell members of Boston's Haitian church community his story.
Lissa Alphonse, an Everett woman who was held hostage with Louis, also attended Sunday's celebratory ceremony, which was held at the Missionary Church of the Haitian Community (at 100 Temple Street in Winter Hill).
Speaking in Creole (a few segments of which were kindly translated into English for Somerville Patch by Eli Salomon of Waltham, a member of the church community), Louis talked about his abduction by Bedouins, who kidnapped the Americans to pressure Egyptian authorities into releasing an imprisoned uncle.
At one point, Louis said, their Egyption guide, who was also held hostage with them, was taken outside by the Bedouins, and soon afterward Louis heard gun shots. He feared someone had been shot, but it turns out the Egyptians were just shooting the guns at targets for fun. The story drew laughs from the crowd.
Louis said that when he and Alphonse were finally released, the Egyptian government offered to put them up in a hotel. Louis, who hadn't showered for four days, said at that point he wanted to get out of Egypt immediately and go to Jerusalem, and he would wait another day to shower until he got there.
Alphonse, who attended Sunday's service with her husband and two children, also spoke of the experience. She said she was still traumatized by the ordeal, but the help of the Haitian church community was helping her to heal.
According to an account of the kidnapping in the Boston Globe, Louis, Alphonse and a group of Boston parishioners were in the Sinai Peninsula as part of a tour of holy sites in Egypt, Israel and Jordan when their bus was surrounded by machine-gun wielding men in pickup trucks. The men stormed the bus and grabbed Alphonse, punching and kicking her and forcing her off the bus. Louis, the leader of the group, told the kidnappers to take him, too. Their Egyptian guide was also kidnapped.
They were taken into the desert, and over the course of four days they prayed and put their fate in God's hands, Louis and Alphonse said about their experience.
The Dorchester pastor thanked American and Egyptian officials, including Massachusetts senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, for helping secure their release.
They also said prayer and faith in God helped to free them. One of the lessons Louis took away from the ordeal was to put family first, he said.
Somerville Pastor Rev. Exenor Fevrier was also on the tour bus when the kidnappers took the Americans. He said he was thankful to the community in Boston who supported them through the whole situation.
The Sunday night service included a lot of singing, and Marc Biennestin, president of the Haitian Pastors of New England, said it was a "night of celebration and to thank the Lord."