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Southern prof remembers victims of bombing
March 10, 2003
By Jeff Robinson
Mark Terry has never lost contact with Mark and Barbara Stevens during the couple's three years as missionaries to the Philippines.
Terry, professor of Christian missions and evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, taught the Stevens' during their years at the school and keeps abreast of the couple's work by way of their monthly newsletter.
Barbara Stevens and the couple's 10-month-old son Nathan were injured along with 146 others March 4 when a terrorist bomb exploded at the airport in Davao City, Philippines. Bill Hyde, a Southern Baptist missionary to Manila, Philippines since 1978, was among 21 killed in the explosion. Hyde, 59, died in surgery from severe head and leg injuries.
As of March 5, Nathan was listed in stable condition at a Davao City hospital. He had been in delicate condition for 48 hours after receiving a shrapnel wound to his liver. Barbara Stevens was only slightly injured.
In 1998, Mark Stevens was the first to enroll in Southern's "2 Plus 2" missions program which combines two years of classroom work with two years of service as a missionary apprentice. Stevens became the program's first graduate in 2000. That same year, the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board appointed the couple as career missionaries to the Philippines.
Terry receives the Stevens' newsletter about once a month.
"They are outstanding young missionaries, very dedicated, very sharp young people who are truly committed to the cause of Jesus Christ and to the Great Commission," said Terry. "If I was going to hold up an example good first-term missionaries, they would be splendid examples."
During the family's time in Davao City, Mark Stevens has coordinated efforts to reach Philippine tribal groups with the Gospel. The Stevens' were injured by a bomb placed outside the arrival terminal at an airport Terry had flown through numerous times. Terry served as a missionary from 1 in Davao City. He knows well the unrest in the southern Philippines.
"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Terry said. "The Muslim separatists have been conducting a campaign of terror in the southern Philippines for the last several years. This is just one in along series of explosions and terrorist acts perpetrated by Muslim separatists. They are trying to force the Philippine government to make the southern Philippines an autonomous or a semi-autonomous Muslim state.
"The missionaries know very well [that] where they are serving is a volatile place. They understand that. The bomb wasn't targeted at them. It was simply a random act of terror and they just happened to be there when it detonated."
Terry also served on the mission field with Bill Hyde for more than a decade. Hyde and his wife Lynn came to the Philippines in 1978 but served on the north Island in the capital city of Manila.
Hyde first worked as a music teacher at Faith Academy, a missionary boarding school. Later, he returned to Southwestern Theological Seminary and obtained another degree before returning to Manila to work with the IMB in leadership development.
Terry said his path crossed with Hyde's infrequently but remembers the late missionary for his personality.
"He [Hyde] was Mr. Personality," Terry said. "He had an ebullient personality. He was very outgoing, very friendly. I didn't see him very often. We were in Davao City and he was 500 miles north in Manila. I saw them once a year at the annual missionaries' meeting, but I remember what a nice man he was."
In the wake of Hyde's death, Southern Baptists have responded with outpourings of prayer and sympathy.
"Our hearts go out to these families and their coworkers," said Larry Cox, an IMB spokesman. "... We ask Christians everywhere to pray that God would show Himself strong for these families, their coworkers and the other members of the Southern Baptist missionary family."