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IMB’s Garvins return home for healing

VALLEY SPRINGS, Ark. (BP)–Southern Baptist missionaries Carl and Kay Garvin have returned to their home state of Arkansas and are recuperating after robbers attacked them in a hotel south of Moshi, Tanzania, in February.

Kay Garvin, who was shot in the chest, “is healing wonderfully well” and “is able to do anything she wants,” said her husband, who is healing more slowly from surgery because of a broken arm, severe lacerations and ligament damage to his knee.

“I’m restricted on doing the things I like to do,” Carl Garvin said, adding that his arm is so fragile he will not be allowed to use it for three months.

The machete one robber used to hack at his arm cut out a wedge of bone, so he has a plate in the arm. He also has had knee surgery.

The Garvins were initially treated at a Moshi clinic before being airlifted to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. They arrived home in Valley Springs, Ark., March 8 and plan to be there for about six weeks before returning to Kenya for cluster meetings with other missionaries and for a women’s prayer retreat. They expect to be back in Moshi by the middle of May.

“It was quite an ordeal,” Garvin said of the attack. “It was very frightening. But even so, we did not lose our ability to think coherently. We could still think and respond appropriately through all of it…. We do not want to be seen as heroes, because God is the hero. Throughout this experience, He showed us and many others who He is in His grace and power. Miracles bubbled out of this in our lives and in the lives of others who heard of this.”

Garvin said the police inspector in Kenya told him the robbers meant to kill the couple.

“But that wasn’t God’s plan,” Garvin said. “He only let them go so far. God is getting more glory from this…. It’s like God telling Satan he could touch everything around Job but he could not touch Job’s life. God has received glory in this. As people prayed for us, God received glory and many received a blessing.”

Garvin said they are eager to return to their ministry in Tanzania.

“This has not deterred our call at all,” he said. “In fact, it has given us an even greater sense of His call.”

Garvin expressed thanks to Baptists for placing “a prayer net around us.” He also expressed gratitude for the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which “provides for us physically in times like this as well as putting us on the field to do God’s work.”

Three Arkansas mission volunteers working with them when the attacks occurred were unharmed, Garvin said, because they were locked securely in their rooms the whole time, which likely saved their lives.

He said the volunteers, Joe and Cindy Lennon of First Baptist Church in Harrison and Rudy Dehrens of Grandview First Baptist Church of Berryville, were of great assistance from the time the robbers fled until the Garvins received initial medical attention.

“God planted them in our way to provide specifically for Kay,” Garvin said, noting that initially her injury was life-threatening.

A former nurse for 30 years with emergency medical training, Garvin was able to aid his wife immediately following the shooting. Then the Arkansas volunteers assisted them both as they traveled by car to a clinic.

The Garvins, who work in evangelism and church planting in Tanzania, were appointed as Southern Baptist missionaries with the International Mission Board in 2005. He was pastor of First Baptist Church in Valley Springs from 1988 to 2005 and she is a former elementary school teacher in Valley Springs and Green Forest, Ark. They have three grown children.

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  • Charlie Warren