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Iowa Baptists mourn loss of native son missionary Bill Hyde

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (BP)–Bill Hyde, killed March 4 at a Philippines airport, and his wife, Lyn, were “well-loved missionaries all across Iowa.”

O. Wyndell Jones, retired executive director of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, described the Hydes as key missions advocates as Iowa Baptists grew from fellowship status in the Southern Baptist Convention in the early 1970s to state convention status in 1995.

“They were kept real busy” during their furloughs in Iowa, said Jones, who led Iowa Baptists for 15 years and is now interim pastor of the Hydes’ home church, Immanuel Baptist in Cedar Rapids. “Everywhere they ever spoke, people really did appreciate them. Iowa Baptists felt real proud to have them as foreign missionaries.”

Hyde, a native of Cedar Rapids, was among 21 people killed when a bomb exploded in Davao City, the Philippines’ second-largest city. 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 10-month-old son were among nearly 150 people injured in the attack.

Describing the Hydes as “very warmhearted missionaries,” Jones said their enthusiasm and commitment made Iowa Baptists certain that the duo were “very conscientious about their work” in the Philippines, where they had served since their 1978 appointment by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

In Cedar Rapids, Immanuel Baptist Church “is saddened beyond words,” Jones said. “The Hydes were here just here a few months ago,” arriving just before the death of his mother.

“We have been apprehensive for their safety for some time,” Jones added. “They have been much in our prayers,” especially during the year-long captivity of New Tribes Mission workers Martin and Gracia Burnham by Philippine rebels linked to Osama bin Laden’s terror network. Martin Burnham was killed in a June 2002 shootout between the rebels and the Philippine military. Gracia Burnham escaped injury and is now living with her three children in Kansas.

Jimmy Barrentine, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, in a statement issued March 4, said, “This is a terrible loss to the people and churches of our state. But at times like this it is good to remember that a life entrusted to God is never lost, never wasted. Even beyond death, God preserves life and extends the reach of Christian witness from one generation to another.

“Our duty now is to pray for the people of the Philippines until each and every one has experienced the love of Jesus. It is also our duty to continue to love, pray for and forgive those who mistreat us and those who count us as their enemy. This tragedy will also serve to strengthen our resolve to faithfully pray for the Hyde family and for the missionaries who serve throughout the world.”

David Miller, president of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, also issued a statement: “We are shocked and saddened by the irony of a man as sweet, gentle and kind as Bill Hyde being killed in an act of such hatred. The Iowa Baptist churches that knew the Hydes loved them and appreciated their ministry on our behalf. The Hydes knew the danger they were in and yet continued their ministry because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and the people of the Philippines. We are saddened by Bill’s death, but inspired by his commitment and sacrifice.”

Ed Gregory, missions team leader for the Baptist Convention of Iowa, described Hyde as “the epitome of the missionary spirit.” Amid periodic family needs and concerns, with some urging them to stay stateside by saying, “it’s safer, it’s better,” Gregory said Hyde and his wife “just kept on going back to the field where God had call them.” Gregory and Hyde first met during the early 1980s during Gregory’s 17 years as Immanuel’s pastor.

Over the years, Hyde “kept retraining … fulfilling different roles … teaching, church planting. He was constantly developing Filipino pastors, helping them get new work started and then mentoring them in their roles.”

His wife, meanwhile, likewise has been devoted to missions. “She was constantly preparing for and leading devotional life conferences for the women there,” Gregory said.

Marion Livingston, a retired Cedar Rapids businessman and close friend to the Hydes, struck up a friendship with the family in the late 1970s after noticing their names posted on a bulletin board at Immanuel Baptist Church as missionaries in the Philippines — the destination of frequent business trips he was making at the time.

During his next trip to the Asian nation, Livingston made a point to meet the family — and the next day he joined the Hydes and their two sons, Steven and Tim, and their Filipino pastor in a cookout and devotional time for 15 youth on a cookout in the mountains about 50 miles from Manila.

The invitation to join in came from the Hydes’ then-10-year-old son, Tim, who also cautioned, “It’s going to be dirty, it’s going to be hot.”

“I could see where the Lord had called Bill and Lyn to the Philippines,” said Livingston, who visited the Hydes two or three times a year for a number of years. “They loved meeting the needs of the Filipinos.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MISSIONARY IOWANS.

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