INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–The emotional cost of sending young men and women to foreign mission fields was evident in a video testimonial by Bruce and Donna McDonnall, parents of slain International Mission Board worker and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate David McDonnall.
The video was featured during Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention June 15 in Indianapolis.
Donna McDonnall recounted a time when David was in grade school and his teacher gave an assignment for the children to describe what they wanted to be when they grew up. “David,” she said, “wrote that he wanted to be a missionary.”
She continued, “David exemplified service because he took to heart the greatest commandment: to love the Lord with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul; and the second command, to love your neighbor as yourself. David made ‘neighbors’ of everyone he met.”
Challenges abounded for McDonnall in his work in Iraq, but he faced them with good humor and unflinching faith in God. Bruce McDonnall recounted that David would tell them his work in Iraq was not so much about sowing and harvesting as it was simply to find the field.
“The sacrifices the [local believers] were making were far greater than the sacrifices he was making,” McDonnall remembered his son saying.
The anxiety many missionary parents feel was reflected in the McDonnalls’ testimony of how they worried about their son going to such a risky place of service.
“But David was less afraid of dying than he was afraid of not living his life … and the life he lived was the life of Christ,” Donna McDonnall said.
“‘Dangerous’ David McDonnall was called such because he put everything on the line for the cause of Jesus Christ,” Patterson said after the video.
Patterson described how David and his wife, Carrie, and three other missionaries were attacked outside Mosul, Iraq, on March 15 by assailants brandishing automatic weapons. Only Carrie survived.
Then Patterson brought Bruce and Donna McDonnall onto the platform, and they were greeted by Southern Baptist messengers with a standing ovation and extended applause.
“Men and women all over America send their young people to our six seminaries each day and they know that what dangers are involved,” Patterson said.
To Bruce McDonnall, Patterson asked, “Would you encourage parents to send their children to serve on a foreign mission field?”
“I would encourage them,” McDonnall replied. “Find out everything you can and make your decisions based on facts.”
To Donna McDonnall, Patterson inquired whether she had any words of encouragement to parents of children called into such service.
“I had a love that wanted to protect my children,” McDonnall told the messengers. She exhorted parents to develop faith and entrust their children’s lives to a loving God who wants the best for His followers.
Patterson concluded his report by calling on every pastor, parent and grandparent to be involved in a ministry of calling out the called.
“Who will replace David McDonnall?” Patterson asked. “Will you join in extending the invitation to thousands of young people? Send them to Southwestern and we will send them out prepared to win the world for Jesus Christ.”
Editors’ note: As of press time, a report on Southwestern’s luncheon at the SBC was not available.