SHELLSBURG, Iowa (BP)–The motorcade carrying William “Bill” Hyde’s body for burial moved slowly through the Iowa countryside northwest of Cedar Rapids. In the fields, there is still snow caught in the stubble from last fall’s harvest. The cool air and black earth at the cemetery on the edge of Shellsburg where he was born are a sharp contrast to the tropical heat and green jungle in which Hyde lived and worked for the past 25 years.
The 59-year-old missionary was killed March 4 in a bomb blast at the airport in Davao City, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. This day, family, friends — many who knew him from childhood — missionary colleagues, and young adults who had him as a teacher gathered from across the globe to celebrate of his life.
“The journey he took wasn’t an easy one,” said Dick Hyde, Bill’s older brother. “The Lord had something in mind for Bill long before he was born.”
His middle name was Paul. And like the apostle he was named for, Hyde was strong-willed and opinionated, said his brother. And he was big. Big as a child and bigger as an adult. “His nickname was Slugger. He got it for being in fights. Lots of fights.”
By the time Hyde was in high school, his talent as a musician began to get notice. In a household of musicians, “He had the voice in our family,” said Dick Hyde, “a deep bass like Tennessee Ernie Ford. He even had offers to be a professional musician.” But there were other things stirring inside him.
He served in Vietnam. He married Garlinda (Lyn), the woman who was to be his wife for 37 years. And after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the University of Iowa, he taught music in schools in Iowa. But still things stirred within him.
“He could have had a quiet life, a happy life, (could have taught school) and touched lots of lives,” said David Miller, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Falls. “But he and Lyn chose the front lines — or rather, were chosen would be more appropriate.”
In 1978, the couple was appointed as missionaries to the Philippines by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
At first he taught MKs (missionary kids) at Faith Academy in Manila. But he had another passion — church planting — and during the latter years of his ministry in the Philippines he and Lyn moved to Mindanao and focused on that passion.
It is known that he facilitated the planting of 600 churches. In January, he hosted a Pioneer Evangelism conference. With 3,700 participants, it was probably the largest such conference ever held. There is a good possibility that 3,000 churches will result from this conference.
“This was a remarkable man,” said Thurman Braughton, a recently retired IMB missionary who worked with Hyde. “This guy took what we were doing and multiplied it 10-fold, maybe 100-fold.
“Where we were adding, he was multiplying.”
Hyde did that by training pastors and laypeople, equipping others to plant churches, rather than have those efforts depend on him or a relative few. Out of the January conference, 1,086 new church planting teams were formed. It is expected each team will plant three churches. Hyde had plans for training 150 Filipinos as trainers next year and, through them, training another 7,000 laypeople in church planting.
He was a big man with a big vision.
“It is a tragedy that Bill was killed,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin. “But the real tragedy would have been if Bill had not given his life to Jesus Christ. We praise God that his life — and his death — will bear much fruit.
“Gathered around the throne of grace will be the peoples of the Philippines because Bill was there.”
Bill Hyde was not famous “until last week,” Miller said. “He labored in obscurity in the Philippines.” But no more.
“I wish everyone here could see how many people my father has touched,” Bill’s oldest son, Tim, told a packed auditorium at his parents’ home church, Immanuel Baptist in Cedar Rapids. He told of traveling to the Philippines during the past week for two memorial services that drew thousands.
Hyde related a recent conversation his father had with his mother. His father commented that he expected only about 150 people at his funeral. “Boy was he wrong,” said his son, Steve. “Now he is honored around the world for his service to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“What happened to Bill Hyde is more in keeping with the history of the church than the comfort we enjoy in this country,” Miller said. “Bill was a man of joy, yet he had an unspeakable thing done to him.
“But Bill didn’t lose anything; he gained everything.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: HOMETOWN HERO, PHILIPINES AIRPORT SCENE and BILL HYDE.
More on Bill Hyde and the bombing in the Philippines
Further notes from Bill Hyde’s funeral:
— Steve Hyde, a son who works with an independent missions organization, Words of Life, in Cambodia, said: “My dad was a hero and a martyr for the Lord Jesus Christ. … His passion was seeing the Kingdom of God grow in the many regions of the Philippines.”
He urged the congregation to let his father’s death make them more passionate for the gospel. “The Bible says, ‘Life is in the blood,’ so my father’s life is now being lived out in the Philippines where he shed his blood.”
— Tim Hyde, another son, who lives in Dallas, said: “I’m glad my dad was in the Lord’s will. He was in the Lord’s perfect will. That doesn’t mean we won’t miss him, but he’s just gone on to a better place.”
— Ed Gregory, missions team leader for the Baptist Convention of Iowa and former pastor of Hyde’s home church, Immanuel Baptist in Cedar Rapids, told a story from Lyn Hyde of how just days before his death Bill spoke to a Sunday School class in the Philppines. He reminded the class that the body is not important, but the soul is. He guessed there would not be more than 150 persons present at his funeral (there were 380 or more). But Hyde said what will matter most is that his soul would be with the Lord. He said in recent days God had spoken to him about the shortness of life.
Gregory recounted how Bill had recently visited his son, Steve, in Cambodia. There they had walked in a fruit orchard near a pastor’s home. Steve had commented that he would one day either retire in a place like this or maybe even be buried there. Bill was aware that his son was willing to give his entire life to serve the Cambodian people. It had caused Bill to realize that “I am willing to give my life for the Filipinos.”
— Jerry Rankin: “We are comforted by the life that he lived. We should not miss the significance of this reminder to do what we can to share our faith with those around us. …
“Bill’s memory lives on in the passion for the lost and for church planting.
“Though the tragedies of the occasional deaths of missionaries raise the question, ‘Why go?'” Rankin said those in the secular media who ask that question “just don’t get it, do they?” Rankin said. “Love compels us to go. …
“It is difficult to put tragic incidents as this in perspective, but one day [many] people of the Philippines will be there around the throne of God because Bill was there,” Rankin said. “The real tragedy would be if Bill Hyde had not given his life to the Lord and responded to the call to go to the Philippines.”