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Iowa Baptist leader underscores Bill Hyde’s calling in Fox telecast

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The cause of Christ superseded the danger, Baptist Convention of Iowa President David Miller said of missionary Bill Hyde’s commitment on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” March 4.

“[Bill was in the Philippines] because of a sense of call he had, a desire to preach the gospel,” said Miller, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids. “He was committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the people of the Philippines. He really loved the Philippine people and he really immersed himself in the Philippines and just really had a passion for building churches and training pastors and all those things.”

Hyde, a Cedar Rapids native and an International Mission Board missionary since 1978, was among 21 people killed when a bomb exploded in Davao City, Philippines, March 4. He had gone to the airport to pick up a fellow missionary family, Mark and Barbara Stevens and their two children. Barbara Stevens and her two children were among nearly 150 people injured in the attack.

Wendy Norvelle, associate vice president for mobilization at the International Mission Board, joined Miller on the broadcast. Southern Baptist missionaries have always served in places that are dangerous, Norvelle said.

“It’s not danger that drives them to go, or danger that compels them,” Norvelle said. “They go to share the love of Christ. We try to equip our personnel to be aware of the risk and to not take unneeded risk, but to go and become familiar with the language and the people there so they can understand what may be going on.”

Norvelle added that in the 157-year history of the International Mission Board, about 20 missionaries have lost their lives in violent occurrences.

“But that’s really 20 too many,” she said.

Miller said Hyde and his wife, Lyn, knew the dangers of ministering overseas, especially in a country such as the Philippines, where rebels linked to Osama bin Laden’s terror network held New Tribes Mission workers Martin and Gracia Burnham captive for about a year. Martin Burnham was killed in a June 2002 shootout between rebels and the Philippine military. Gracia Burnham escaped injury and is now living with her three children in Kansas.

“They knew the burdens and had us praying for them,” Miller said, “but Bill just had such a passion for the work of the gospel that the danger was secondary to the cause of Christ.”

When Van Susteren noted that Hyde was not killed necessarily for being a missionary but just happened to be at the airport when the blast occurred, Norvelle agreed that Hyde was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“And I’d like to say that the events of the last months have proved to us that there’s really no safe place,” she said. “Our safety is in Christ Jesus.”

Van Susteren asked Miller how he was dealing with the loss of a friend, and he replied that he’s turning to the strength of the Lord.

“I think the real concern is for his family. Lyn is a woman of deep spiritual passion, and I imagine she’ll want to go back to the Philippines and continue the work,” he said. “I don’t know if she’ll be able to do that, but we’re looking just to minister to the family.”

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  • Erin Curry