PHOENIX – A family from Arizona was scheduled to returned to the states on Sunday after they embarked this past spring to find refuge elsewhere due to their concerns about the American government’s increasing infringement upon religious freedom.
Hannah Gastonguay and her husband Sean gathered their two children and Sean’s father this past May and set out for the tiny island of Kiribati. They said that they were tired of the way the U.S. was headed, especially its imposition of immorality upon Christians.
“Abortion, homosexuality, the state-controlled church,” Hannah detailed to the Associated Press as being a few of her frustrations. “[We are] forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”
“Jesus isn’t the head of the church. God isn’t the head of the church,” she said. “Churches aren’t their own.”
Kiribati, on the other hand, is predominantly Christian. It has a population of just 100,000 but is largely underdeveloped.
The family moved to San Diego last November and lived aboard a ship for several months in preparation to set sail for Kiribati. During this time, Hannah gave birth to the couple’s second child. In May, the Gastonguay’s embarked on their journey, but two weeks later, they found themselves struggling in the midst of difficult storms. With each storm, the ship became more battered.
After two months, their food supply was becoming low and they were unable to proceed due to the condition of the ship.
Hannah Gastonguay told reporters this past week that she believed God would take care of them, so the family prayed while lost at sea. A few ships would pass by as the weeks went on, but none stopped to help.
However, after three months stranded in the waters, a helicopter recently spotted the ship and a Venezuelan vessel came to their rescue. The family spent several days aboard the vessel, and were eventually transported to Chile, where they have been waiting to return to the states.
“[T]hey didn’t have sufficient expertise to navigate adequately,” police prefect Jose Luis Lopez told a local newspaper of the reason why the Gastonguay’s became lost at sea.
The family was to have returned to the states on Sunday, but says that they are still seeking to leave the country and will be working on a plan B.
Reaction to the Gastonguay’s excursion has been mixed.
“This could most certainly create an exciting new wave of exiles of people who believe what they do,” one commenter wrote. “Kudos to you all for standing your ground, because many here do not.”
“I feel sorry for our country that Christians want to flee. God help us,” another stated. “But maybe this was God’s way of telling them to stay and fight for our country instead of running away. I don’t know, and I don’t know the answer. But I know that our country is way off the path it should be [on].”