If you've been reading my blog this week, you know that three of the American missionaries in Haiti--being officially investigated for criminal association and kidnapping--are related to me. If you've followed the news like I have, you know that, like most legal situations, it's hard to sift through exactly what happened.
What did happen? I don't know. Unfortunately, I don't have a bunch of "inside information." I'm not going to be naive and say I'm certain the team did everything the way they should have. I don't know seven of the ten missionaries (including the leader, Laura Silsby, who spearheaded and organized the effort to bring children into the Dominican Republic.)
What do I know? Well, I've known Drew Culberth, my first cousin, all my life. I've known Paul Thompson, the husband of another of my first cousins, for well over 20 years. I've known Silas Thompson, Paul's son, since he was a baby--but I haven't spent much time with him since he was small, so while I do trust him, I'll refrain on commenting on his character.
So what do I know about Drew and Paul? They are men of deep integrity. They wanted to serve others in this mission. They are men who live out their faith, day to day, in a real way. Paul lives sacrificially every day, pastoring a church and driving a school bus to support his family. Drew has a career of service as a firefighter and also leads a church youth group. Paul and his wife Renee have raised two men who, from all I can tell, have character--their oldest is in the Air Force, and their youngest is in Haiti with his dad. Drew and his wife are loving, joyful parents of four young children.
We haven't heard much of what Drew and Paul have to say about this situation, but I don't even have to hear it to know this: I believe them. Whatever they have told the judges, I believe them.
I've read news stories throughout the years with people that seem to blindly trust their relatives who are suspected of wrongdoing. And I'm realizing, in some cases, it's not blind trust. In some cases the people involved really are so trustworthy that their families can know they are telling the truth.
If you want to reserve judgment, that's okay. I'm reserving judgment on the team members I don't know. I'm reserving judgment on exactly what happened and who knew what.
But I'm standing by my cousins. When people have proven themselves trustworthy through the years, I owe them my trust. They have it.