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Missions celebrated, safety noted in Bill & Lyn Hyde’s newsletters

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (BP)–“Kidnappings, bombings, burning of villages, ambushes, killings, injuries, threats, evacuations and other forms of terrorist activity have become the norm for people living on our island of Mindanao,” International Mission Board missionaries Bill and Lyn Hyde wrote to family and friends in an August 2000 newsletter from their mission location in the Philippines.

Bill Hyde died from severe head and leg injuries March 4 when a bomb hidden in a backpack exploded at the international airport in Davao City, Philippines, where he was picking up another missionary family, Mark and Barbara Stevens, on their return from a trip.

The Hydes had served as Southern Baptist missionaries in the Philippines since 1978 and were fully aware of the dangers inherent in such a country.

“It is a complicated situation that dominates the central and western parts of the island as well as the far east coast of the island,” they continued in the August 2000 letter. “The reports primarily speak of two sides, the Muslims and the military (government). However, everyone living in the areas of conflict are drawn into the fighting, and all are suffering.”

Bill and Lyn Hyde explained that the primary reason the hostilities have continued for decades in the region is because the Muslims desire for the island of Mindanao to be autonomous, functioning under Islamic control rather than a part of the Philippine nation.

“Although there have been a few small bombs and a lot of bomb threats in the city where we live, we feel quite safe,” the Hydes’ newsletter continued. “We pay attention to news reports and are cautious in our moving about. Traveling in the province is restricted at times, but the Lord’s work continues in spite of the peace and order problems.”

The Lord’s work was the burning passion that kept the Hydes in harm’s way. They reported that on their island of 18 million people, less than 10 percent are evangelical Christians. Bill Hyde worked as a church planter to train pastors and other church planters, and they reported that as a result of the training Bill had done in basic evangelism, discipleship and church planting, more than 300 churches were planted between 1998 and 2000.

The Hydes reported that Filipinos were eager to be taught in a December 1998 newsletter.

“Unlike American seminars, when Filipinos have this kind of opportunity, the sessions continue almost non-stop for hours and even days,” Bill Hyde wrote. “They take a short time for meals, but they often talk and share throughout the night with only a few hours of sleep. It is common for my trainers and I to take turns sleeping on a back bench when we are not teaching so that we can carry on for 20 straight hours.”

Although travel, food and lodging conditions were challenging, Bill Hyde reported that he enjoyed his job assignment, taking leadership training to believers who would otherwise not have opportunity for spiritual growth and understanding God’s purpose for their lives to redeem the lost world. “It’s always an adventure being on mission with God!” he wrote.

In October 1999, Bill and Lyn Hyde noted that statistics indicate new churches are four times more effective in evangelism than existing churches, and they had seen that to be true in the Philippines. An example they gave was one of Bill Hyde’s trips to the Maragusan Valley, about four hours from Davao City, where he took two of his trained church planters along to establish and train a new church planting team with Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church” concept.

“In early July, a church planting crusade was conducted, resulting in the salvation of many people who then began to meet regularly for Bible study,” the Hydes wrote. “Since the [Purpose Driven church planting] began in June, the initial group of believers has become an established church with more than 80 attending weekly. They have constructed a cement block building with a cement floor and tin roof.

“They have established extension Bible studies in five separate villages with more than 100 tribal people being baptized since the first of June. It is fully anticipated that the five Bible studies will also develop into churches, and the multiplication will continue.”

In a December 1999 newsletter, the Hydes reported in that year they helped train more than 3,000 Filipinos in evangelism, discipleship and church planting. As a result of church planting crusades, they said, 120 churches were planted during the previous four months, and most of the new churches had an average attendance of 60 to 80 people.

Another story of missions success came in September 2002 when the Hydes wrote about Bill and his fellow church planters’ plans to show the “Jesus” film one evening at a new ministry site.

“It was going to be shown in the open central plaza of the community. Each town and city has a plaza, and this is where ‘everything’ happens,” the Hydes’ newsletter recounted. “The night of the film showing, the rains came, the equipment became wet and would not work, so the showing had to be canceled. The following night the community had scheduled a disco for all the youth and young adults. However, the next day Bill’s team was able to get the equipment working. They talked with the Barangay captain, whose decisions are usually final. The disco was canceled, and in its place the Jesus film was shown!”

Lyn Hyde was active in leading women’s Bible studies and prayer groups, and in September 2000 she chaired a committee that brought Beth Moore to speak in Manila to missionary women of the IMB’s Western Pacific region.

Family was important to Bill and Lyn Hyde, as many of their newsletters contained information about and prayer requests for their grown sons, Steve and Timothy. Steve is an independent Christian worker in Cambodia who married a Cambodian Christian named Noit in 1999. Timothy lives in Dallas. In June 2002, Lyn wrote that her prayer had always been for God to let her and her husband see their children at least once a year. The Hydes were on stateside assignment during parts of 2001 and 2002 and were able to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary with both children in the United States.

The Hydes’ newsletters during the time of Martin and Gracia Burnham’s captivity in the Philippines included pleas for prayer for the New Tribes Mission workers who were kidnapped by rebels linked to Osama bin Laden’s terror network.

“Continually on our minds are the welfare of New Tribes missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, kidnapped for ransom and held captive since May 27 by the Muslim terrorist Abu Sayyaf group,” the Hydes wrote in December 2001. “This is the group that is active on our island of Mindanao…. Please pray with us that Martin and Gracia will be released unharmed and will be reunited with their children soon.”

Martin Burham was killed in a June 2002 shootout between rebels and the Philippine military. Gracia Burnham escaped and is now living with her three children in Kansas.

The Hydes’ ministry in the Philippines could be summarized in a newsletter from December 1997: “Our leadership training for Filipinos is in areas where there is no missionary presence. The purpose of our work is so that the eyes of Filipino hearts will be enlightened in order that they will know the hope to which they have been called and know the riches of His glorious inheritance and know His power that is working in them.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: BAPTIZING NEW BELIEVERS, BRAND-NEW CHRISTIAN, TOGETHER AGAIN and GATHERING FOR BIBLE STUDY.

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  • Erin Curry