Missionary Death Brings Wave of Grief ... and Faith
- Art Toalston Editor of Baptist Press
- 2003 4 Mar
As death struck again on the mission field - this time claiming a worker March 4 in the Philippines after the loss of three workers Dec. 30 in Yemen - Southern Baptist leaders voiced ongoing grief and, yet, faith.
"The death of Bill Hyde reminds us once again how increasingly dangerous the world has become," Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church, said after Hyde and at least 18 others were killed in Davao City in an airport blast.
"This strikes extremely close to home for our Prestonwood church family, in that the Hydes twice furloughed in our missionary home," Graham said. "A number of our church family have been involved with the Hydes in missionary service in the Philippines. The Prestonwood church family is prepared to minister to Lyn and her family as she experiences this tremendous grief.
"Bill loved the Lord Jesus and gave his life to fulfill God's calling to spread the gospel," Graham said. "A Christian's death is not a random event. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, the psalmist said. We grieve for Lyn and her family, for the International Mission Board family but rejoice that Bill is in the presence of our wonderful Savior.
"This is a reminder that all of us should live with an eternal perspective and give our lives to what lasts, the Kingdom of God. Southern Baptists should be praying for all of our missionaries and their families at this time in that this event increases insecurities and promotes fear. But our comfort and our strength is in our Lord," Graham said.
Hyde, appointed by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board to the Philippines in 1978 with his wife, Lyn, was at the airport in Davao City, the nation's second-largest city, to pick up a fellow missionary family, Mark and Barbara Stevens and their two children. Barbara Stevens and her 10-month-old son were among nearly 150 people injured in the attack.
Hyde's death follows the Dec. 30 slayings by a lone gunman of three workers at the Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen: administrator Bill Koehn, physician Martha Myers and purchasing manager Kathy Gariety.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said in a March 4 statement to Baptist Press, "We grieve with the family of William Hyde and share the burden of care with the family of Barbara Stevens and her son who were wounded in the terrorist acts in the Philippines. We commend them all to the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We sorrow, but not as those who have no hope. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"These are times of worldwide tumult and uncertainty," Chapman said. "Our missions staff is often on the very front lines of the conflict that is boiling up in various parts of the earth. This sad affair underscores once again the jeopardy our missionary staff is subject to and strengthens our resolve to faithfully pray for our missionary staff around the world.
"We ask Southern Baptists everywhere to join with us and redouble their prayer efforts in behalf of the family of missionaries spread around the world in the interest of the gospel," Chapman said. "Our Christian interest in the matter is spiritual and evangelistic - we need to pray that a peaceable environment may prevail so that the gospel of Christ may be spread around the world."
Wanda Lee, executive director/treasurer of Woman's Missionary Union, told Baptist Press, "We are deeply saddened by the news of the bomb explosion at the Davao airport in the Philippines that took many innocent lives. We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of missionary Bill Hyde, along with the other victims.
"May we all be reminded of our responsibility to fervently pray for our faithful missionaries who stay focused on God's calling in their lives to share the love of Christ," Lee said. "We pray God will provide healing and be the source of strength and comfort to the Stevens family as IMB representative Barbara Stevens and her son, Nathan, recover from their injuries."
Robert E. Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, said, "We are praying for Bill Hyde's family and friends and for all of our brothers and sisters at the International Mission Board and of course we are also remembering Barbara Stevens and her son, Nathan, who were injured. Bill Hyde's death reminds us that we don't know the number of days God has given us to serve him here on earth.
"When a man or woman answers God's call to serve, sometimes it is a call that will lead even to death. As a missionary, Bill Hyde made the most of every moment God entrusted to him," Reccord said. "My prayer is that his life will inspire all of us as Christians to live each moment more intentionally focused on how we can point others to Christ."
James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said, "We are so sorry to hear of this and want to encourage everyone to pray for the Hyde family and for the Stevens family. This underscores the dangers missionaries face and their need for our prayers. Pray also that God will use this tragic situation of these that loved him for his good as it promises in the Book of Romans."
Julie Walters, Martin King & Chris Turner contributed to this article.
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The International Mission Board (www.imb.org) is an entity of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. It has 5,441 missionaries working among 1,497 people groups worldwide. In 2002, Southern Baptist missionaries and their co-workers baptized 421,436 new believers and organized 8,369 churches.