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Iraqi shooting survivor testifies that God is ‘faithful, sovereign’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students were presented with a profound challenge and a living example of the sacrifices of missionaries recently.

The challenge came from International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin, who exhorted Midwestern’s students to step out of the safety and comfort of American materialism. The example came from Iraq shooting survivor and IMB worker Carrie McDonnall. Both were speaking on campus during Global Missions Week Sept. 27-Oct. 1.

Less than seven months removed from a tragic attack that left her husband and three other Iraq missionaries dead and herself in a coma, McDonnall testified to a full chapel audience about God’s grace. When God calls believers to make a great sacrifice, she said, He carries them through it.

“The events of March 15 and 16 shattered my life, my bones, my world, and my view of God, which really isn’t a bad thing,” McDonnall said. “[But] I come today to tell you, to make sure you know that He who calls us is faithful.

“I didn’t come to this conclusion overnight. I have wrestled, I have struggled, I have pleaded to sweet Jesus, I have clung to His Word and by His grace I can stand here and say, He is faithful, He is love, and yes, our God is sovereign.”

McDonnall walked away from the Midwestern pulpit to a standing ovation.

“The Lord spared her so she could testify of His grace, love, purpose and calling,” said Midwestern Seminary President R. Philip Roberts. “Her testimony of faith in and love for Jesus Christ is an example to us all.”

Rankin challenged the audience to be “one of whom the world is not worthy.” He referenced the great sacrifices of McDonnall and missionary martyrs William Koehn, Martha Myers, Larry and Jean Elliott and Karen Watson. Midwestern Seminary’s north campus is named after Koehn and Myers, both Midwestern graduates.

After those tragic losses, Rankin said, the number of people that came forward to answer the call to missionary service did not decrease, but increased.

“In the aftermath of such instances, we have influxes of people who say, ‘I need to give my life,’” Rankin said of the commitments Christians make to go into a hostile world.

God did not call Christians to safety, but to obedience in reaching the world with the Gospel,” Rankin said.

“We need to explode the prominent myth that the safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will,” Rankin said. “The only place to be is in the center of God’s will, but it’s not about our safety. It’s the safest place to be to ensure God’s glory.”

Missionaries like the Elliotts, who were killed with McDonnall’s husband in Iraq in March 2004, shunned a more prosperous life in America to follow the call of obedience, Rankin said.

“I can guarantee you, one thing the three adult children of Larry and Jean Elliott are not doing in the aftermath of their [parent’s] death — they didn’t have to get together and decide how to divide an affluent inheritance,” Rankin said “No, they didn’t accumulate this world’s good. But like Moses, they choose to turn their back on what the world has to offer in order to go and identify with the people of Iraq.”

At the end of the chapel service, Rankin read a portion of a two-page handwritten letter from Karen Watson, which was to be opened in the event of her death. In the letter, Watson wrote: “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.”

Said Rankin: “I want to call you to a deeper commitment, not to ministry, not to missionary service. I want to call you to a deeper commitment to be one of whom the world is not worthy.”

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  • Cory Miller