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Missionary to Peru to recount fatal downing on ABC telecast

NEW YORK (BP)–Every day, 6-year-old Cory Bowers learned something from his mother. Sometimes it was a bit of a song praising God or a Bible passage. Other times, it might be a lesson in good manners. No matter what the lesson, “Roni” Bowers taught it well.

“She was great at teaching Cory in every way, as far as his schooling, but also in teaching things he needed to know,” Cory’s father, Jim Bowers, told Diane Sawyer in an emotional interview taped for ABC’s “PrimeTime Thursday” to be aired May 24 from 10-11 p.m. Eastern.

The interview is the first interview Bowers has given since his wife and their seven-month-old daughter were killed April 20 when a Peruvian Air Force jet shot down their small plane in Peru’s Amazon jungle region.

“I’m not in agony thinking that everything has been destroyed,” Bowers says in the interview. “Because Roni’s purpose was eternal and that’s where she is now.”

Also on the telecast, the pilot, Kevin Donaldson, describes in detail what happened when bullets tore into the small plane carrying missionaries with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. “In the back of my mind danger is always there,” Donaldson says. “There was often political unrest, but nothing I worried about, nothing that bothered me, that haunted me, that kept me from doing what I had to do.”

Religion correspondent Peggy Wehmeyer also will take a look at what motivates missionaries who continue their work in the name of God in the face of danger.

Missionary Veronica “Roni” Bowers, 35, was holding her adopted daughter, Charity, on her lap when a bullet struck her in the back, killing both her and the child. Donaldson, a veteran missionary pilot, received leg wounds. Bowers and Cory, also on the plane, were unhurt. Once Donaldson got the plane on the water, the survivors sat on pontoons before being rescued by some Peruvians in a dugout canoe. The U.S. Embassy has said the Peruvian pilot mistook the Bowers plane for an airplane transporting contraband drugs.

In the interviews, Bowers and Donaldson provide key details about the morning the plane was hit. Bowers said when he first saw the fighter jet, he told his wife to wake Cory, so he could see the plane. Then, he heard was what he describes as a sound like popcorn. “Loud. And things flying because there was a hole in front of my face. A large hole in the windshield. And those bullets came from behind.”

Donaldson is an experienced pilot and has worked for the missionary association since 1985. His parents were missionaries, and he grew up in Peru. “The Lord directed me, and assured me that my experience, the language that I knew, the culture that I knew, was certainly for a reason,” Donaldson tells PrimeTime Thursday about his decision to carry on the Lord’s work.

Bowers tells Diane Sawyer that his faith in God has helped sustain him and his family while they struggle to understand the tragedy. “I’m saying to God that he’s chosen me. I don’t have a choice now. I’m telling God, ‘Well, you know what you’re doing and there’s obviously something great that’s going to come out of this, and already has. Roni’s goal in life was to reach people, for you.’ I told God that.”
(BP) low res photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BEFORE THE TRAGEDY.

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