A church mission group from the East Bay is finally on the way home after being trapped in the west African country of Niger for almost a week. The government there was toppled by a military coup, preventing the group from flying out.
A group of 15 people from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and school boarded a flight to Paris, chartered by the U.S. State Department after six days of sheltering in place.
11 members of the church group flew to Niger on July 20 and joined four other American missionaries to provide support and resources to a local bible school.
But the church group’s flight home last Friday was unexpectedly grounded indefinitely. Niger’s military had detained the country’s democratically elected president and staged a coup.
“When we hear they were stuck without fuel, we just started praying like crazy,” said Logan Heyer, Cornerstone Church School Principal.
Heyer’s teenage daughter, wife and father-in-law were stuck. He contacted Contra Costa congressman John Garamendi’s office for help as well as senator Dianne Feinstein.
“Our office immediately started working with the us embassy in Niger and our contact at the state dept. in Washington,” said Ron Eckstein, Press Secretary for Sen. Feinstein.
The State Department negotiated a chartered flight out Friday morning but after everyone had boarded, the group was told they weren’t going anywhere.
“It got really stressful, that was the first time we got like, oh, what’s going to happen?” Heyer said.
Nine painstaking hours later, they took off and headed to Paris.
“It’s an answer to prayer,” Heyer said. “I don’t care if they spend the whole week looking at the Eifel Tower. I don’t care, they’re safe.”
The group will fly to Washington D.C. and then home to California. Their exact date of return is still up in the air.
Source: NBC Bay Area