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WORLDVIEW: No place beyond God’s Spirit — or Bill Hyde’s truck

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Bill Hyde was known for driving to the airport to welcome arriving missionaries. He was even better-known for driving Filipino pastors into the countryside to start churches.

Both activities involved the veteran Southern Baptist missionary’s truck — and his servant’s heart.

He was at the airport in Davao City, the Philippines, to meet a returning missionary family March 4 when a powerful bomb exploded. The bomb, allegedly planted by terrorists, injured more than 140, including three members of the missionary family. It killed at least 21, including Hyde.

Hyde, 59, of Iowa, was the fourth Southern Baptist worker to die violently in the last three months. Medical workers Martha Myers, Bill Koehn and Kathy Gariety were killed by a Muslim extremist in Yemen Dec. 30.

Some will focus on their tragic deaths — and the increasing threats to American Christians abroad — and neglect the lives these workers lived. That’s a shame, because Hyde’s life, like the Yemen workers’ lives, should be celebrated — and imitated.

“Bill was involved in church planting movements before we knew what to call them,” remembers Linda Phelps, a former missionary to the Philippines who now directs the children’s school at Southern Baptists’ Missionary Learning Center. “He was so passionate about church planting in the Philippines and mobilizing Filipinos to do it.”

Hyde’s 25-year missionary career included seminary teaching and a variety of other assignments. But he loved nothing so much as helping Filipino believers spread the gospel.

“Bill went out to the hard-to-reach places to train Filipinos to start churches,” says former missionary Don Phelps (Linda’s husband), now missions minister at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. “There was no place that was beyond the reach of God’s Spirit — and Bill’s truck. He would load it up with Filipino pastors and lay leaders and take them out to start churches in tribal and rural areas. There were hundreds of churches planted.”

Hyde’s two priorities, Phelps adds, were Filipinos coming to know Christ and then taking the Great Commission as their personal responsibility:

“God multiplied church plants because of Bill’s passion for the Filipinos to reach their own people and start churches. He was very humble about it. He was behind the scenes. He did not seek credit, but he was very faithful to do the things he knew God wanted him to do, and trust ministry to the Filipinos.”

That’s not just solid mission strategy. It’s servanthood. Someone said that God does not judge greatness by how many people serve you, but by how many people you serve.

By that measure, Bill Hyde achieved greatness.
Bridges, whose column appears twice-monthly in Baptist Press, is a senior writer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

    About the Author

  • Erich Bridges