RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Eight Southern Baptist workers have given their lives over the last three years to follow the call of God to reach the lost peoples of the world.
A just-released book, “Lives Given, Not Taken: 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs” by International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin and IMB senior writer Erich Bridges, tells the story of the martyrs.
“Their lives were not taken from them, for they had already given them,” Rankin said of the missionaries.
During the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 21-22 annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., both Lives Given, Not Taken and another new book by Rankin, “Empowering Kingdom Growth: To the Ends of the Earth” about the International Mission Board’s global strategies, will be available for half price. Rankin and Bridges will sign copies of the books at LifeWay Christian Resources’ convention bookstore and the IMB booth.
Bill Koehn, Kathy Gariety and Martha Myers, medical missionaries, were killed Dec. 30, 2002, at Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen by a Muslim militant. Bill Hyde died in a terrorist bombing in the Philippines on March 4, 2003. David McDonnall, Larry and Jean Elliott and Karen Watson — a team of humanitarian relief workers — were killed by insurgents on March 15, 2004, while driving in Iraq. All of them, in their own way, died serving the Lord.
The book describes the impact the martyrs had on those around them, not just through their deaths but also during their lives.
Bridges said they were not “super-saints” but regular people — a bookstore manager, high school music teacher, newspaper reporter, sheriff’s deputy, grocery store manager and a doctor. The eight workers were different ages and were called to service at different times in their lives.
“Martha [Myers] wanted to be a missionary since she was a little girl,” Bridges said. “Bill Koehn and his wife were well into their lives before they answered God’s call.”
Each life is different, but they all have the same story — a life devoted to Christ.
“They share a common death, but they also have in common their servant spirit,” Bridges said. “That is where the title of the book came from. It is something I had heard many times when talking to the families.”
Through the book, Rankin and Bridges also wanted to remind Southern Baptists that martyrdom is still part of the life of the church, particularly among people groups where following Christ often means paying with one’s life.
“Reaching all peoples for Christ will not be accomplished without the blood of martyrs,” Rankin said. “Jesus sent His disciples into a hostile environment to share the Gospel and demonstrated the cost by giving His own life on the cross.”
After Bill Koehn’s death, his wife, Marty, returned to the field to continue serving as a missionary. Bill Hyde’s wife, Lynn, also returned to continue the work she started with her husband. David McDonnall’s wife, Carrie, was wounded in the attack that killed her husband and fellow relief workers; she is recovering and traveling to churches and other events speaking about her experience.
“I want to challenge pastors, youth workers and church leaders to put this book in the hands of Christian young people,” Bridges said. “The book will make an impact if a new generation follows in their footsteps of being obedient to the calling of God.”
After the convention, Lives Given, Not Taken: 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs will be available through the International Mission Board at 1-800-999-3113. The cost will be $14.99 plus shipping.