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Wade, Nancy Watts thank Southern Baptists for prayers

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–Wade Watts, who lingered in a coma for a year after he was injured in a 1996 head-on car wreck in Peru, said he did not regret going to Peru as a missionary and asked Southern Baptists assembled in Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center June 10 to join him in going back to South America as missionaries.
His wife, Nancy, thanked Southern Baptists for their continued prayers over the past two years.
Strapped upright in a wheelchair, his speech still slurred by his injuries, Watts nonetheless represented a miracle to thousands of Southern Baptists around the world who have prayed for him and his family in the 28 months since the accident.
The February 1996 head-on collision on a winding mountain road in Peru left Watts and his 9-year-old son, Marcus, in comas. Watts’ wife, Nancy, suffered fractures in her hand, face and back. A second son, 7-year-old Joshua, received a broken ankle. Five days later, after doctors were able to stabilize Marcus for transport, he was airlifted to Memphis, Tenn. It would be another eight days before Watts could make the six-hour flight.
Doctors doubted Watts and his son ever would emerge from their comas, and, if they did, were not expected to regain physical function.
Nine months later, however, Marcus had made a miraculous recovery, completing the fourth grade in a Memphis school and even being released from physical therapy. Six months later, Watts himself returned home, able to feed himself and speak.
The couple joined IMB President Jerry Rankin and Avery Willis, the agency’s senior vice president for overseas services, on the convention center platform June 10 as the International Mission Board appointed 38 new missionaries for overseas service.
“Wade, I want to ask you, are you sorry you went as a missionary to Peru?” Willis asked the missionary.
Watts replied: “No. I know that I was in God’s will. I’m not sorry.”
Nancy Watts thanked Southern Baptists for their continued prayers over the past two years.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for us as a family to be able to say to so many Southern Baptists that are here this evening that we truly appreciate your prayers for us during the past two years and four months,” she said. “It has meant so much to our family, especially myself. It has given me lots of encouragement and strength from God knowing that so many Southern Baptists from all over the world have been praying for us.”
One of the first things Watts said after he regained his ability to speak was, “I plan to go back to Peru.” His wife echoed that sentiment from the SBC platform.
“Serving as missionaries in Peru at times was very challenging. It was very heartwarming, very exciting, very adventurous and sometimes very disappointing,” she said. “But we loved every minute of it and we’re looking forward to the day we’ll be able to go back and serve you once again overseas.”
Watts asked Southern Baptists to continue praying.
“First, I would ask that you pray that I would walk,” he said to messengers. “Second, I would ask that many of you would join us in going back to South America.”
Rankin pledged Southern Baptists will continue to pray and told assembled messengers many of them should consider Watts’ appeal to join the work in Latin America.
“Wade and Nancy, we’re grateful you could be here and see a small representation of the millions of Southern Baptists that will continue to pray for you that you will walk and, in God’s providence, may someday go back to Peru,” Rankin said. “That will be a while yet, but I know your hearts are blessed to know we have three missionary couples being appointed tonight who have responded to God’s call to Latin America.
“And we trust that many who are here tonight will respond to that appeal to go in your place to share the light of the gospel to people who are in darkness,” he said.
More than 160 people made commitments to career missionary service overseas at the conclusion of the service.

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  • Mark Kelly