BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (BP)–A handwritten letter from Karen Watson to her pastors is proof the International Mission Board worker was resolved to obey God with gladness as He called her to follow Him past the comforts of home and into a land where millions need to know Him.
Watson, 38, was one of four humanitarian aid workers who died in Iraq after their vehicle was ambushed March 15. Larry and Jean Elliott of Cary, N.C., and David McDonnall of Rowlett, Texas, also perished. McDonnall’s wife, Carrie, was severely injured in the attack and remains in stable condition at a hospital in Dallas.
“When God calls there are no regrets,” Watson wrote in a letter to Phil Neighbors and Roger Spradlin, co-pastors of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., where she was a member since 1997.
The letter, dated March 7, 2003, was written just before Watson left for the Middle East and was meant to be opened only upon her death.
“I wasn’t called to a place. I was called to Him,” she wrote. “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.”
Anticipating her death may cause others to question the need for the humanitarian work in Iraq to continue, Watson clearly said one of the most important things is to “preserve the work.”
“Keep sending missionaries out. Keep raising up fine young pastors,” she wrote.
In making a few requests for a funeral service, Watson said to keep it simple and preach the Gospel.
“Be bold and preach the life saving, life changing, forever eternal GOSPEL. Give glory and honor to our Father,” she wrote.
Watson quoted The Missionary Heart, which says in part, “Risk more than some think is safe,” a line that resonates with the endeavor she undertook in a war-torn country.
She listed some of her favorite passages of Scripture, including 2 Corinthians 15:5, which says, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Another was Romans 15:20, which says, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.”
In closing, Watson wrote, “There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him.”
The full text of Watson’s letter follows:
March 7, 2003
Dear Pastor Phil & Pastor Roger,
You should only be opening this letter in the event of death.
When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the Nations. I wasn’t called to a place. I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.
One of the most important things to remember right now is to preserve the work. … I am writing this as if I am still working among my people group.
I thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Surely your reward in Heaven will be great. Thank you for investing in my life and spiritual well being. Keep sending missionaries out. Keep raising up fine young pastors.
In regards to any service, keep it small and simple. Yes simple, just preach the gospel. If Jason Buss is available or his dad have them sing a pretty song. Be bold and preach the life saving, life changing, forever eternal GOSPEL. Give glory and honor to our Father.
The Missionary Heart:
Care more than some think is wise.
Risk more than some think is safe.
Dream more than some think is practical.
Expect more than some think is possible.
I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience.
Some of my favorite scriptures are: Isaiah 6, you know the one. 2 Cor. 5:15-21, 1 Peter 1:3, Col. 4:2-6, Romans 15:20, Psalm 25 and 27. You can look through my Scofield and see where it is marked. Please use only what you want or feel is best.
There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you two and my church family.
In His care,