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A thank you note from Mark and Barbara Stevens
March 24, 2003
By Mark and Barbara Stevens, IMB Missionaries

Editor’s note: The following is a letter written March 9 by Mark and Barbara Stevens in light of the March 4 terrorist bombing in Davao City, Philip-pines. Mark is a “2 Plus 2” graduate of Southern Seminary. Barbara and the couples’ 9-month old son Nathan were injured in the blast. International Mission Board missionary Bill Hyde was killed.

To our faithful prayer partners, our beloved family and friends, our mission family near and far, Southern Baptists across the U.S. that support us through their prayers and giving to the Cooperative Program and to Lottie Moon, and to countless others whose concern and love has been showered on us at this time.

The out-pouring of love and concern for us has been great during these last few days. So many have written and called to express their best wishes and concern for our family. Each prayer has been heard and answered by our loving Father. We have known His comfort, wisdom, peace and strength. In this spirit, we are now ready to share a very brief and simple account of the events of Tuesday, March 4.

While Mark was still awaiting the arrival of our luggage in the baggage claim area of the Davao International Airport, Barbara exited the airport along with Sarah (age 4) and Nathan (age 9 months).

They walked across a street to a waiting shed area to meet our cherished friend and next-door neighbor, Bill Hyde, who was there to pick us up. The waiting shed is a roof under which people can wait to meet arriving passengers at the Davao City airport. At this hour, more than 100 people had gathered to meet arriving passengers.

After a brief conversation, Bill gave Barbara the keys to the car so that she and the kids could go and sit in the car to wait for Mark and our luggage. Bill waited to assist Mark and show him to the car. A few seconds after Barbara and the kids turned to walk in the direction of the parking lot the bomb exploded. The kids and Barbara were still under the waiting shed and only around 5-8 meters from the bomb. The explosion was directed toward the airport so Barbara and the kids were just behind and to the side of the explosion. Also, they had just stepped to the side of a wooden snack shop. Although the snack shop was destroyed, it provided some measure of protection from the blast.

I (Barbara) ran to the car carrying both kids. Several “on-lookers” were never able to locate Bill or Mark for me, nor was I able to reach Mark with my cell phone. I was able to reach Bill’s wife, Lyn, on the phone and told her to get help and meet us at the hospital.

After some time, I felt I needed to take the kids and myself to the hospital. I held Nathan on my lap and applied pressure to the wound on his tummy with one hand and put my other hand on the horn. God steered the car and shifted the standard transmission. I guess the clutch smelled pretty bad when we got to the hospital! I could not hear the horn or Nathan’s cry.

Mark immediately exited the airport and saw Bill lying on the ground. He found help to carry Bill to a police vehicle going to the hospital. Mark stayed and continued to search franticly for Barbara and the kids. He was able to contact a missionary, Steve Anderson, to come and help. While Steve drove to meet Mark at the airport, he passed Barbara on her way to the hospital. He was able to call and assure Mark that he saw Barbara driving the car heading towards the hospital.

Nathan had only a few small wounds, but there was one wound on his side that looked somewhat like a deep burn, about the size of a nickel.

It was our immediate concern because it was caused by a piece of shrapnel, which had gone into his liver. Nathan was taken to Pediatric ICU, and we were prepared to med-evac him to another country for surgery if it was needed. Thankfully, there has been no internal bleeding and no signs of infection. Therefore, it was determined that surgery was not needed at this time because it would be more traumatic to his liver to try to locate and remove the shrapnel than to leave it in the liver. His body will encapsulate the material. Nathan was released Friday afternoon after three days of observation.

Sarah has only a few small cuts on the back of her legs and knees.

Barbara has shrapnel in both of her lower legs and in one arm. Most of her shrapnel marks, wounds and bruising are on her back and left side. She has a few stitches in her back. Of primary concern is her hearing loss. While it has improved greatly, there is still a significant amount of loss especially in terms of higher pitched sounds such as her children’s voices and cries, music and phone rings.

Our friend and neighbor Bill Hyde died a little later at the hospital due to severe head injuries and other trauma. His wife and many of our fellow missionaries were at the hospital by the time of his death.

We wish to express our overwhelming gratitude to our loving, gracious and awesome God for sparing our lives and for living out His strength, peace and wisdom in our lives. We are also so very thankful for your concern and prayers, as well as for the care and comfort of our mission family and friends -- many of whom traveled a great distance to offer help and support.

We continue to thank God for the support structure that we have through the International Mission Board. The speed of the support and help during this crisis situation was truly amazing. Everything we needed was there immediately when we needed it.

Thank you Southern Baptists for your support of the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that makes that possible. We are also so very thankful to United States Embassy personnel here in the Philippines, a most kind and professional hospital staff, government officials and countless others.

As you pray for us:

* Pray for Lyn and her sons, Steve and Tim, as they are grieving the loss of Bill. Pray for the Hyde family as well as ours to find some peace and rest away from the media and “swirl” of activity.

* Pray for our family in the States to be comforted, supported, encouraged and ministered to at this time. Pray that their fears would subside. Pray for Nathan’s wound to his liver to heal completely with no future effects. Pray for Barbara’s hearing to return.

* Praise God for His protection and divine sovereignty, as well as for His balm of comfort and peace.

Know that although our hearts and bodies are still healing, our spirits are strong in the knowledge of our sovereign and loving God. To God be the glory! He is good. And, He is still on the throne both now and forevermore! We will continue to work until all of the tribal people of the Philippines know Him.

With love and deep appreciation, Mark, Barbara, Sarah and Nathan Stevens


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