A court in the city of Petit-Goave, Haiti, is seeking the return of a missionary who is alleged to have molested children in that country while working for Christian Aid Ministries, which is headquartered in Berlin, Ohio, and has a large distribution center in Ephrata.
The missionary — identified as Jeriah Mast — fled Haiti on May 5 and returned to his home in Holmes County, Ohio, that same day.
In a statement on its website, Christian Aid Ministries said Mast left Haiti without the organization’s authorization or approval and that he has since been discharged from the organization.
Christian Aid Ministries, which is supported by a number of Amish and Mennonite groups, added that it is cooperating with authorities.
“We understand that the individual made a confession to leaders in his local church in the U.S. and has reported himself to Ohio state legal authorities,” the Christian Aid Ministries statement read.
Mast’s church, Shining Light Christian Fellowship, also released a statement Wednesday which begins: “The horrible deeds that Jeriah Mast has done and confessed are sins before God and against young boys.”
The website post states that he had “confessed multiple instances of immoral sexual relationships with boys” and that he “lied to cover up his sins.”
Richard Haun, chief deputy for Holmes County, said in a phone call that his department also is investigating allegations that Mast sexually assaulted victims years ago in that county.
Haun said Mast met with local police and gave them the names of his victims. He said the local victims, who are Amish and Mennonite, are now adults.
Haun said his department only has jurisdiction over cases in Holmes County. Cases involving Haitian youths are being handled by federal authorities.
Mast initially was confronted about sexually abusing boys in 2010 by the Rev. Brucely Delma, who serves a church near Petit-Goave. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Delma said he excommunicated Mast at that time and that Christian Aid Ministries would have been aware of that fact.
On June 6, Delma was summoned to a court in Petit-Goave for failing to report Mast. He told the Post-Gazette that he had followed biblical guidelines to discipline a wayward member, but now regrets not having contacted authorities about Mast’s abuse. Delma’s case is pending.
The newspaper also reported that Emmanuel Louiceus, a Haitian attorney, represents five Haitian clients allegedly abused by Mast. He told the newspaper that Mast faces prosecution and that Christian Aid Ministries faces a civil lawsuit.
Trudy Metzger, of Ontario, Canada, a blogger and advocate for Amish and Mennonite victims, told LNP that she has asked Christian Aid Ministries leaders to reveal what they knew about Mast’s past actions.
Christian Aid Ministries has a presence in 118 countries and territories. The organization reported that it shipped nearly $70 million in medicine, vitamins, nutritional items and medical supplies to 387 medical outlets in 2018.
Its statement of purpose reads: “CAM strives to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”
Officials at the Ephrata distribution center referred all calls to the Ohio headquarters. The Ohio office did not return phone calls.