The pastor of a Micronesian church in Neosho says his members are asking for thoughts and prayers, after a group of six people have been lost at sea. This apparent tragedy happened while some of these Micronesians were on their way to their birthplaces for a special mission.
They have been declared lost at sea for some time now. But the Micronesian pastor says his members are finding it hard to just deal with what happened by themselves.
"Because of the help of this community, we are able to cope with it. But for the past four months, we tried to help each other. Tried to support the family," says Pastor Tonis Mathew with the House of Mercy Church.
There are a lot more questions than answers right now for this church with 150 members.
"In our little community at this church, it's the most difficult thing that we've ever encountered. I never, as a pastor encountered such a terrible, difficult... It bothers me, mentally," says Mathew.
Mathew and six of his members began a days-long journey last March to their Micronesian birthplaces. They were missionaries, but their mission was cut short.
"They really loved God. They wanted to work for God, for our native people on the islands. They never made it," says Mathew.
Mathew and his church members started their journey by flying out of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. Mathew then took a 60-mile journey by boat from one Micronesian island to another, with his six church members taking the same journey one day later.
"That's a normal travel, that's a normal travel boat," says Mathew.
Mathew says the group was in a 16-foot motor boat. The weather was sunny and calm, and seas were only a bit choppy.
"I found out that the motor that they rented had some motor trouble, a problem with the motor before," says Mathew.
The group of six was reported missing at sea on March 7th, and the U.S. Coast Guard did a search by boat and air for nine days. According to Mathew, search crews have only recovered one backpack and a gas can at sea.
Mathew says travelers to Micronesia know there are risks.
"That's not the first time people have gotten lost in the water in that area. Usually, they get recovered by the Coast Guard," says Mathew.
But in this case, right now...
"Only God knows what happened," says Mathew.
Mathew adds, only God knows why it happened.
No officials searches are underway right now for the four men and two women.
"What really bothers me is the look I see in the faces of the mothers and the children. Every time I talk about it, it bothers me because we didn't plan it. It's unfortunate that the young mothers, young wives, and the young children had to lose their loved ones," says Mathew.
Mathew says some family members of the apparent victims come to pray at church nearly every day, still hoping their loved ones will somehow be found safely.
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