FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–David McDonnall, one of four Baptist workers killed March 15 in Iraq, and his wife, Carrie, “endeared themselves to our church,” pastor Michael Dean said.
The McDonnalls, kneeling at the altar of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, were commissioned and prayed for by the congregation before they departed last fall for fulltime service in Iraq.
“No doubt that image is still very vivid in the minds of many of our people,” Dean said. “It puts a very personal touch to the risk of the calling of missions.”
The spiritual impact of McDonnall’s death may extend far beyond the Fort Worth, Texas, congregation, Dean reflected.
“On a road in northern Iraq, there was a collision between some American civilians and some Iraqi terrorists, but it was really much more than that. It was a collision between love and hate.”
Everybody knows, Dean said, that “love always wins out.”
“This could be a hint that a spiritual awakening is in the future for Iraq,” the pastor said. “If it holds true that the blood of the martyrs is the fuel of the fires of the Gospel being spread, this could be a great note of hope that the Gospel could make great inroads in that part of the world.”
Dean recalled a visit with the McDonnalls in his office last fall as David wondered aloud about security concerns in Iraq and even whether he should buy a gun. But, as they talked, it became clear they would choose to heed any recommended safety precautions but, otherwise, they would trust in the Lord.
Speaking with McDonnall’s parents in Colorado the day after his death, Dean said he had an opportunity to tell them “their son was one of the most godly and courageous young men that I’ve ever met.”
McDonnall’s wife, Carrie, remained in critical condition March 16, the lone survivor of a drive-by shooting attack in which David and three other IMB workers were killed.
The couple had met while serving as two-year Journeymen with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in northern Africa and the Middle East. They subsequently enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth to prepare for further missions service.
Last summer, the McDonnalls led a team of about a dozen Southwestern students to Iraq on a three-week volunteer trip to do food distribution, renovate an elementary school, and explore possibilities for other humanitarian initiatives in northern Iraq.
During that trip, the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary.
Southwestern’s president, Paige Patterson, and his wife, Dorothy, were in Germany at the time of McDonnall’s death and were planning to remain in the country to minister to Carrie McDonnall when she is flown there for further medical care.
McDonnall, 29, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., had an “absolutely charismatic personality … [and] always had a story to tell about the adventures of being a worker in the Middle East,” said Brennan Searcy, a Southwestern Ph.D. Old Testament student who participated in the volunteer trip the McDonnalls led to Iraq last summer.
McDonnall “loved God with all his heart and had a heart for the people of the Middle East to know Christ,” Searcy said.
He was fluent in Arabic and was “a gentle shepherd in the way he led our team,” Searcy said.
Carrie McDonnall, 26, a native of Sulphur Springs, Texas, meanwhile, is a “strong, godly girl who loved her husband and [is] a skilled missionary herself” with a similar heart for God and the people of the region, Searcy said.
“David is a hero of the faith,” Searcy stated. “Just as people sacrificed their lives so that the Gospel could come to North America centuries ago, he’s done the same thing in his effort to take the Good News to the people of Iraq. …
“We should pray,” he continued, “and we should go and do whatever it takes to do what these four people sacrificed their lives doing.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SENDING FORTH, WORTH THE RISK and DAVID AND CARRIE MCDONNALL.