Antioch missionaries stranded in Niger following military coup

Instagram post on July 28, 2023 of Cornerstone Christian Center & School missionaries in Niger. Source: Hannah Gabrielle

Team of 11 from Cornerstone Christian Center and School

“We sent our team to Niger to make much of the name of Jesus in that country and believe they are still doing that, and we are trusting in Him to bring them home, safely,” Principal Logan Heyer

By Allen D. Payton

A missionary team from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and School, led by Pastor and Superintendent Steve Miner has been stranded in Niger, Africa following a military coup.

In a post on her Facebook page on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, Hannah Gabrielle wrote, “My family is stranded in Niger Africa. The US government has evacuated part of its embassy staff but has been unhelpful in helping us get our family out! Help me spread the word. Share and pray. Whatever you can do. Email a congressman or senator. Call the local news. Anything helps. They are in a group of 15 US citizens ages ranging from 11 to 73.

On Friday, the team posted a photo from capital city Niamey, Niger, on the church’s Instagram page that reads, “Our Cornerstone Team has had an amazing week serving at Vie Abondante kids camp in Niger!”

Photos courtesy of Logan Heyer, Cornerstone Christian Center & School.

A Sunday report by the Marine Corps Times confirmed her information about the U.S. Embassy that reads, “The Marine security guards stationed at the American embassy in Niger will remain there as the United States evacuates all but essential staff because of a coup in the country.”

A Wednesday, Aug. 2 post on X (formerly Twitter) by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reads, “Today, we ordered the temporary departure of non-emergency personnel and eligible family members from Niger. The U.S. is committed to our relationship with the people of Niger. The embassy remains open, and our leaders are diplomatically engaged at the highest levels.”

Logan Heyer, Principal of Cornerstone Christian School, said about the missionaries, “They were supposed to be back on July 29.”

He learned of the coup, early last week.

“I looked at an article in the news that there was a coup in Niger, and I heard about it on the 25th,” he stated. “The coup closed all the borders in Niger.”

The team left for their trip on July 20th.

“They were supposed to leave on Friday, July 28th to return,” Heyer shared.

Asked if any students are on the trip, Heyer said, “No. One former student, my daughter, Madison. My wife, Holly is also there and my father-in-law, Scott Wells. School starts again on Aug. 21st. No teachers. But our head pastor and school superintendent is over there, Steve Miner, with his wife, Maria.”

“There are 11 from our church and school, about 15 total,” he added.

“We have partnered with a missionary that lives there in the country,” Heyer explained. “They went to do a Vacation Bible School and get their school ready for the fall, too.”

This is the second time the team has gone to Niger.

“Pastor Steve has led two teams,” he added.

“It sounds like, from what I understand, the Royal Guard kicked out the president. It’s not targeted at Christians.

According to a July 27 report by NPR, “Soldiers in Niger have announced a coup, imposing a curfew and closing borders in a country that is a key U.S. ally in West Africa. The president of…Niger was removed in a coup late last night, local time, despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save his government.”

Asked about efforts to get the team out of the country Heyer said, “We saw online that Senator Ted Cruz got missionaries out from Niger – teenagers on a mission trip not from our group. But they met up with them. Their parents were very frightened, like we are. Senator Cruz was able to get them out of the country on an Italian plane. We saw that the Italians and French got people out.So, we contacted Senator Feinstein and Congressman Garamendi on Tuesday, and they have been pushing whomever at the State Department to get our people out.”

A KRON4 News report about the stranded missionaries, quotes Garamendi saying, “My team is working closely with the state department and the constituents to get them home safely. However, I cannot share additional details at this time due to operational security issues.”

According to a report by Reuters early Wednesday, Niger has reopened it’s borders with several neighboring countries “a week after a coup that has sent shockwaves across West Africa’s Sahel region, one of the poorest and most unstable in the world.”

‘The land and air borders with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya and Chad are re-opened from today, August 1, 2023,’ junta spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane said in a televised address.”

“We sent our team to Niger to make much of the name of Jesus in that country and believe they are still doing that, and we are trusting in Him to bring them home, safely,” Heyer stated.

Private prayer vigils are being held for the team, he shared.

the attachments to this post:

Cornerstone mission trip to Niger3

Cornerstone mission trip to Niger 2

Cornerstone mission trip to Niger 1

Cornerstone Christian Center & School missionaries in Niger

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