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Indiana man recounts his own brush with death as a missionary in Haiti

Rex Byers and three other missionaries from Kokomo were shot near Port-au-Prince in November 2011.

SHARPSVILLE, Ind. — As Rex Byers watches the headlines out of Haiti - the rise in violent crime and, most recently, kidnapping of more than a dozen American missionaries - his mind returns to his own dangerous trip there almost exactly ten years ago. 

It was an attack that easily could have cost him and other Indiana missionaries their lives. 

"Oh easily," said Rex Byers. "We should’ve. We really should’ve. It was like ducks in a shooting gallery."

Byers was among a group of 14 people from Kokomo on their own church mission trip to Haiti in November 2011.

One night, a group of local bandits tried to break into the building where they were sleeping, outside the capital city of Port-au-Prince, to rob them. 

"We resisted, they started shooting, busting out the windows and all hell broke loose," he said. "One of the eeriest sounds of that night was when it went silent. And then one of the guys said, 'Oh my God, I can hear them reloading.'"

Byers and three others were shot.

"I felt it immediately," he said. "It hit me in the middle of the leg."

Amazingly, though, they all survived. None of their injuries were life-threatening. 

Byers insists it wasn’t luck that allowed them to survive, but divine intervention. The bullet that struck him narrowly missed his femur.

"You know how people say, ‘that’s a coincidence’ or ‘that kind of stuff happens.’ Yeah, that’s true. That kind of stuff happens, but who directs it?" Byers said with a smile.

It was one of several miracles that night that Byers said kept them alive.

He recounted the story in "Mission Under Fire," a book he wrote in 2013.

At the time the group returned home, they told 13News they hoped what happened to them wouldn’t cast a shadow on the people of Haiti.

Ten years later, despite recent reports of lawlessness and violent crime on the rise, Byers said the majority of people of Haiti are kind and still need help.

"I’m sure the Haitian people right now are so embarrassed by what has happened because they so need the people to come in from different countries to help them," said Byers. "The people there have great hearts. And if not for the grace of God, we might be living there. That’s the thing. We get to grow up in one of the greatest countries in the world. And not everybody gets that hand dealt to them."