Laura Silsby’s Messiah Complex

Laura Silsby, leader of the group of American Baptists arrested for illegally attempting to take Haitian children to the Dominican Republic, appears to suffer from delusions of grandeur and a messiah complex.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Laura Silsby and her live-in nanny Charisa Coulter formed a non-profit organization last November. The “New Life Children’s Refuge” is, according to Silsby,

dedicated to rescuing, loving and caring for orphaned, abandoned and impoverished Haitian and Dominican children, demonstrating God’s love and helping each child find healing, hope, joy and new life in Christ.

Drew Ham, one of the pastors at Central Valley Baptist Church of Meridian, Idaho, informs the WSJ that the pair brought their idea to his congregation, which shared their desperate desire for heroics by swooping in uninvited and “rescuing” children in other nations with different cultures.

In 2006, Silsby was eWomen's Businesswoman of the Year.

The Godly gals traveled to the Dominican Republic late last year, to begin preparations to purchase land and build an orphanage for 200 children. The Wall Street Journal reports that Silsby also met with Eric Evans of Eric Evans Construction in Meridian about building a “multimillion dollar complex” for runaways. (Update at end of story; Evans denies this.)

Unfortunately, it seems Silsby hadn’t any money to get these grand plans off the ground.

Ms. Silsby had purchased a two-story house in Meridian, where a neighbor said she was known for her blue Lexus convertible and her dog, Bentley. Her financial difficulties mounted last year. Idaho court records show several judgments against Ms. Silsby in 2009 . . .

One suit, filed in federal court in Miami, alleged that Personal Shopper [Ms. Silsby's now failed business] owed more than $320,000 to Florida-based TSG Media Inc. The suit was settled in November 2008, according to an attorney for TSG, David Filler. He declined to disclose the terms of the settlement, but he said that Personal Shopper failed to make good on the settlement

In December, her house was foreclosed on, according to John Browning, a Boise broker who said he was hired to sell the house as part of the foreclosure.

Ms. Silsby said she would be leaving the country soon, said Mark Ehlhardt, who runs a UPS store in nearby Kuna where Ms. Silsby rented a mailbox.

Further, 14 former employees of Silsby have filed suit, seeking unpaid wages over the past two years — including time before the company ran into financial difficulty. I guess Silsby doesn’t need to honor her commitments.

Following the quake, Silsby and Coulter got busy. Shucking off all connection to reality — lack of funds, lack of legal counsel, complete personal financial collapse — they came up with a half-baked plan and took advantage of the quake to gain donations.

. . . they planned to rent a 45-room hotel in Cabarete, a coastal town in the Dominican Republic near Magante, where they intended to house Haitian children while building their permanent facility. The plan was to drive a bus to Port-au-Prince “and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages,” and return to the Dominican Republic, the document said.

The document may be found here. In part,

Another attempt to gain glory leads to another fall.


The Plan:
Rescue Orphans from Port au Prince, Haiti
• Friday/Saturday, Jan 22nd : NLCR team fly to the DR
• Sun Jan 23rd: Drive bus from Santo Domingo into Port au Prince, Haiti and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages, then return to the DR
• Mon Jan 24th: Bus arrives in Cabarete, DR at New Life Children Refuge
• Haiti Team: Laura Silsby, Charisa Coulter, Carla Thompson, Nicole & Corrinna Lankford
Paul Thompsons Team from East Side Baptist Church, Twin Falls
Provide love and care for the children
• Interim New Life Children Refuge Location: NLCR is in the process of buying land and building an orphanage, school and church in Magante on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Given the urgent needs from this earthquake, God has laid upon our hearts the need to go now vs. waiting until the permanent facility is built. He has provided an interim solution in nearby Cabarete, where we will be leasing a 45 room hotel and converting it into an orphanage until the building of the NLCR is complete.
This interim location will enable us to provide a loving environment for up to 150 children, from infants to 12 years old.
• Team Needed: NLCR is praying and seeking people who have a heart for God and a desire to share God’s love with these precious children, helping them heal and find new life in Christ. Please prayerfully consider a 2 week or longer mission trip to help NLCR provide rotating staffing for the care of the children over the next 6 months.

Prayer Requests
• For discernment of God’s will and direction throughout this trip and for Him to prepare the way before us
• For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the DR
• For God to guide us to the children He wants us to bring to NLCR and for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing

Not having money for this expensive feat was no problem. After all, their deity was helping them in their heroics. And people online were praying for them! (Oh, and asking for donations. We can’t expect God to do the heavy lifting.)

Showing up with a bus, with no knowledge of local laws or culture, would be far more helpful than, say, contributing to aid organizations working to do something useful!

Silsby wouldn’t let details get in her way . . . like documentation. She had a mission from God to save these children from voodoo and introduce them to her far better deity!

Last week, the group entered Haiti from the Dominican Republic, met with the pastor and gathered a group of children, Mr. Ham said. The group had signed permission “to take children from Haiti back to the Dominican Republic,” as well as documentation from the Dominican Republic itself, he said. But when the group got to the border, Haitian officials told the group they lacked “one document,” Mr. Ham said.

Carlos Castillo, the Dominican Republic’s consul general in Port-au-Prince, gave a different account: In an interview he said he met with Ms. Silsby on Friday and told her she lacked any documents to transport children, and warned her not to try or she could be arrested.

Sounds like someone’s not telling the truth. Does anyone care to guess who?

What is accomplished when we decide to engage in great heroics that bring us personal glory, instead of helping in a more humble, yet productive way? In this case, a number of children are removed from their parents, and put through additional hell, to no useful purpose. And the would-be heroes likely get six to nine years in jail.

My question for Silsby: If your goal is to help children, aren’t there plenty of abused, poverty-stricken, neglected kids right here in the United States that you can help? Why is it necessary to be the Great Hero swooping into another nation and taking children away from their home?

Granted, it does have certain Christian appeal. Many Christians, for example, believe in the “Rapture”, in which all “True Christians” will be abducted by aliens lifted up to Heaven in an instant, before God unleashes years of torment upon humanity. Is that not exactly what Silsby was trying to do? Provide a “Rapture” for Haitian children, snatching them away from the failing world of their birth to take them to a new, beautiful place where they would live in peace and serenity with God?

UPDATE on Laura Silsby:

Silsby’s group attempted to abduct the adoptive children of a Bowling Green, Kentucky couple during their Haiti trip.

Richard and Malinda Pickett of Bowling Green, Kentucky have spent five years working to adopt three Haitian children. Despite Malinda’s insistence that they did not want Silsby’s “help”, Silsby showed up at the orphanage in Haiti to pick up their children . . . claiming Malinda had sent her.

More HERE. And a h/t to PPT at Websleuths.com for pointing out this disturbing twist!

UPDATE on Eric Evans:

Evans wants everybody to know that not only is he not building a complex for Silsby, but he’s never even discussed it with her:

Evans has been deluged by reporters calling him and knocking on his door wanting to know more about the Kuna project, which he had never heard of until today. He said he did talk to the Journal, but did not know where the information about the Kuna home came from.

Kuna City Planner Steve Hasson also has not heard of any such project.

Evans met Silsby, who has been charged with child abduction in Haiti, a couple of years ago when he sold her a house in Meridian. He has not worked with her on any other projects since then, Evans said.

Thanks to commenter Tai for the Evans update! -Jenny

11 Responses to Laura Silsby’s Messiah Complex

  1. God is probably Laura Silsby’s last line of defense. Whether she actually believes in a religion or a God is beside the point now as her scheme has turned into something bigger than even she might have imagined. I have been following this story from its inception. I’ve worked in PAP myself for a non-religious NGO. My opinion of the situaton is that the other nine should be found guilty of a lesser charge, fined and returned to the US but that she should be held pending the determination of the entire judicial process. She is the leader and she was told of the Haitian requirements and chose to ignore them (in the name of God/Jesus) assuming or hoping that she would be forgiven by the humans involved because they would pity her and believe she had good intentions. Some commenter suggested recently that if the Haitian government was going to retain ten God fearing US citizens who had such good intentions then ALL the Christians helping out in Haiti should leave fore with until the Silsby Ten were released. There are and always have been thousands of US citizens helping in Haiti and they are really needed there right now. They know how to respect Haitian law. Don’t pull them out because of her! Remove the other nine with a stiff fiscal penalty for each and restrict them from ever entering Haiti again. Keep Ms Silsby in prison in Haiti for the full extent of the Haitian government’s judicial process. If she is found guilty, she serves time there just like any other criminal in that country. If she isn’t penalized in some way, even then I would suggest that her bridges are burned and she will have to seek new suckers elsewhere, which is a different type of penalty.

    • I would like the religious leadership to call for those helping out to leave unless she is released. The ones that do leave aren’t there to help as much as they are to put on a display of their faith. The ones that refuse to leave are the ones that really believe in helping those in need of help. I believe it would make things run a bit smoother if those just trying to score points were out of the way. I do agree that most of the nine should be convicted, fined and deported with the agreement that they will never set foot on the island again. I doubt Silsby was the only one with the full details about what was going on and if any other member of their groups did know they should be treated as she is treated.

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  3. Who is Eric Evans? Why is this woman financing a hotel to put the ‘orphans’ in? Why put them in a different country? Isn’t Port au Prince a huge human trafficking spot? Has she done this before? Is she working for somebody else? Where are the other children she has “saved?” And, I agree with the article above statement asking: why not help U.S. children and families? There are so many people right now living on the streets or in shelters that are in need. There are so many empty, foreclosed buildings that could easily be rehabbed. Churches own a bunch of them! Investigate Laura Silsby and Eric Evans. A criminal search will no doubt show a surface scratch of what they are up to. She had a fake business and a UPS box (what name did she pick up her mail under?). She was going to flee the country leaving debt and judgement behind. and start an orphanage? Really? Please. Common sense, this woman and nher ups mailbox, New Whatever Church, and Eric Evans “the developer” were up to child trafficking. Thank God they were caught.

    • Jess - Eric Evans is a contractor who says Silsby wanted to hire him to build her multimillion dollar complex in Idaho. That’s all.

      • Except that he denies that so it becomes yet another thing this woman says that doesn’t match reality. “Eric Evans wants to make one thing clear: He is not building a multi-million-dollar complex for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna for Laura Silsby as reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Evans has been deluged by reporters calling him and knocking on his door wanting to know more about the Kuna project, which he had never heard of until today. He said he did talk to the Journal, but did not know where the information about the Kuna home came from. Kuna City Planner Steve Hasson also has not heard of any such project. Evans met Silsby, who has been charged with child abduction in Haiti, a couple of years ago when he sold her a house in Meridian. He has not worked with her on any other projects since then, Evans said.” Source: http://www.idahostatesman.com/earthquake/story/1069437.html?pageNum=2&mi_pluck_action=page_nav#Comments_Container

  4. I don’t see 9 of the 10 having a big problem getting home – and they shouldn’t if they really didn’t know the details and thought they were helping in a legitimate fashion. Silsby, however, would seem to be another story altogether. Silsby : Hero in Haiti

  5. Korean orphans during the Korean War and the Haitian children. Tuesday, February 09, 2010 During the Korean War, when the Korean and American troops retook the Won ju city area, I had chance to brief visit to a refugee house in the city. I saw a group of about 15 children gathered in a small room under the car of a youngman who was a Christian refuge himself from the North. He couldn’t stand up in the weakness in starvation. All the children were stood up as I entered the room, all half naked, none was sitting on the floor, with just frightened facial expression as they had experienced the horror in the bombings and the battles and they lost their parents and family members. Fortunately, they were picked by the American or Korean soldiers up on the roadways or from the fields. They starved in horror. That was why they had but an expression of horror in despair as they could remember only frightening of the brutal war during the communist invasion. I met an American army chaplain visiting the refugees. Although we saw the sufferings, we had no special means at hand to help them. So I asked him if we could offer a special services for them. He gracefully agreed. In the following morning, he led a special service for the sorrowful group, mostly women. The chaplain preached in the most heartfelt emotional tones for those who in desperate situation. I acted as his interpreter. The refugees worshipped, sitting on the small yard front of the house, spent the tearful moments during the services. I always remember the chaplain’s, emotional facial expressions and the lamenting worshippers, wailing for heavenly help. Since then, I do not know about their fates but their facial expressions. Nowadays, whenever I see the disaster stricken Haitian refugees in the news, my old memory recalls me to the half-naked Korean orphans’ images. But the immediate contras to the Haitian orphans was that the difference between them is that the Haitian orphans have the timely supply of food and other aids from the neighboring Americans and others and are fed well, and lively, happily jumping around, many of them are hope to be adopted into the American families. But the Korean orphans during the war time never had any such timely luxury whenever I had chance to see them in the many war torn areas. Later, in America, I had chances to see the happy faces of the some adopted children under Mr. Holt plan in Oregon and The Welcome House plan under the leadership of the well known Pearl S. Buck, Doylestown, Pa. By now, I believe that many of the grown up Korean children in the American adoptive families would be playing very rewarding roles in various ways for this society. Laura Silsby Laura Silsby is very characteristic leader for the missionary group often failed her own business in the recession as many others, but always her heart was to help the homeless or the disadvantaged children over the world, according to the news. She seems to be very able person and hastily organized this Missionary group to help the Haitian orphans at this time. One’s business failure does not necessarily mean any moral defects at all. Unfortunately her group in Haiti mistakenly ended up in the jail as the suspected orphan kidnappers as they missed some legal steps in confusion of the disaster stricken land. Although they were in the situation very much needed a legal advice and consent from the authorities, they didn’t seem to have had such a timely opportunity in confusion. During the court hearings, some parents testified that they willingly gave their own children to the Missionary goop in contrary to the accusations. The incident appears not to be in a mutual malice at all but the disconnection in the confusion of the land of the great calamity without the functional infrastructure as if a heavenly strike. As the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated graciously to the public that the Haitian judicial authorities would determine the case in honor, According to the news, the court seemed to have discovered the truth. Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has the final word soon on whether to free the missionaries, on the basis of the hearings and Defense attorney’s request. The judge’s brilliant determination will gladify everyone concerned about them in the world. In God’s grace, hopefully, Laura Silsby could find a graceful way to continue her inherently passionate instinctive humanitarian mission towards the needy people in Christian faith. We pray for the relief efforts by the American Christians, Mr. Bill Clinton – pray for his quick recovery, Mr. George H. W. Bush, the UN Secretary Ban Key Mun and all the people in good will towards the disadvantaged. We are all the children of God. Sincerely, Chae S. Sone

  6. I think most should pull out of HAITI!! I MEAN YOu’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME !! There protesting against Americans That have been wiping their ass for generations !! Thats right generations!! when does the handout stop? and what about the parents who ADMITTED! releasing theirs kids to a better life! Child trafficking?? comon Man! when does the Barbs against America stop to an UNGRATEFUL people who have NO business biting the hand that feeds them. All volunteers should just leave so these American bashing fools can raise their kids in there stubborn squalor!

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