Antioch missionaries stranded in Niger on flight to France Friday morning

Antioch missionaries serving in Niamey, Niger and at the airport Friday morning, August, 4, 2023. Photos courtesy of Cornerstone Christian School.

Niger had refused to refuel plane, State Department negotiated

“Just pulled up from the runway. Super emotional.” – Pastor Steve Miner of Cornerstone Christian Center

“They have passed the borders and are three-and-a-half hours out of Paris.” – Logan Heyer, Principal, Cornerstone Christian School

Holly and Madison Heyer on the plane to France Friday, August 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of Logan Heyer

By Allen D. Payton

A team of 11 missionaries from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and School were stranded in the West African country of Niger, following a military coup, last week. They were supposed to fly back last Friday, July 28 and be home by Saturday. But they were not permitted as the borders had all been closed. (See related article)

According to Ron Eckstein, spokesman for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Office in Washington, D.C. in a phone call at 11:45 AM Friday, August 4, 2023, “the 11 individuals are on a flight to France. We were told by the State Department. It departed about 11 AM Pacific Time. Our office has been working on it since Tuesday, August 1.”

“I was not expecting such a positive resolution. But good news,” he added.

A post on Corrnerstone Christian School’s Facebook page at  11 a.m. Friday reads, “On behalf of Cornerstone Christian Center and Cornerstone Christian School we are so incredibly grateful to be able to announce that our Niger Mission team is safely on their way home. We would like to thank the offices of Senator Feinstein and Congressman Garamendi for their consistent support and vital information over these trying days. We are so thankful for the help of the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Niger. We would also like to recognize the effort of KTVU FOX 2, KRON 4 and the Antioch Herald for their assistance in spreading awareness of this serious situation and their care and attention for our family members back home. The professionalism and concern that was demonstrated for this situation by our local media was truly amazing. Last, and most importantly, we would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his continuous protection and care for our team while they were serving in Niger.

Our focus now turns solely to the people of Niger and our thoughts and prayers will be directed for peace in that nation and that democracy will continue to be pursued so that the nation of Niger can be free. Thank you for all your prayers and support during this challenging time. The people of Cornerstone are what make this place one of a kind and I am personally grateful to be a part of such a special place. Our team landed in Niger 16 days ago with the goal of making much of the name of Jesus and we return knowing that His name was high and lifted up.”

School Principal Says Niger Was Not Going to Refuel the Plane

When reached for details at 12:15 p.m., school principal Logan Heyer, whose wife, Holly and daughter, Madison are among the 11, exclaimed, “They have passed the borders and are three-and-a-half hours out of Paris.”

“They got to the airport about 2 AM our time, which was 10 AM their time and sat there for about an hour but Niger was refusing to refuel the plane,” he shared. “So, I got a hold of Senator Feinstein’s office and they said they had been in contact with the State Department who were already negotiating with whoever is in charge of Niger, at this point.”

“I got a Whatsapp from Holly saying, ‘we’re on the plane. We don’t know where we’re going,’” Heyer stated. “Then a few minutes later she shared ‘it looks like we have enough fuel to get to France.’”

“Then we got the photos from them in the airport and one of Holly and Madison in the plane,” he continued. “Then I got a Whatsapp message from Pastor Steve that read, ‘just pulled up from the runway. Super emotional.’”

Asked if they expect to be back in Antioch tomorrow Heyer said, “She didn’t even have time to tell me the rest of it. She just knew they were going to Paris. They’re expected to arrive in about three hours.“

“Senator Feinstein’s and Congressman Garamendi’s office have been very helpful. They’re everything you could hope for in a representative. I was proud to be an American, today,” he added.

the attachments to this post:

Holly & Madison Heyer on plane to France 080423

Antioch missionaries in Niger & in airport 080423

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