March 11, 2003
WILLARD – A Southern Baptist missionary, her 10-month-old son and four-year-old daughter from Missouri were injured when a car bomb exploded March 4 at the airport in Davao City, Philippines.
Barbara Wallis Stevens, 33, of Willard (pictured at left), son Nathan, and daughter, Sarah, were slightly wounded in the attack that killed another Southern Baptist missionary, William P. "Bill" Hyde, 59, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Stevens’ husband, Mark, was uninjured in the attack.
"Our hearts go out to these families and their coworkers," said Larry Cox, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in Richmond, Va. "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."
At least 21 people were killed and 150 injured in the blast, which occurred outside the arrival terminal of the Davao Airport in the Philippines’ second largest city.
The blast ripped through a shelter outside the terminal in which scores of people were huddled to escape a downpour.
Barbara Stevens serves as a church and home outreach worker, while her husband is a church planter. She said in a telephone interview from the hospital that her family had just arrived from Manila where they had attended a home school conference for missionaries when the bomb went off. Hyde had come to the airport to pick them up.
"I just heard it explode to my side," she said. "I was carrying my infant son so I grabbed my daughter and picked her up and ran away. I was afraid there could be more bombs."
No one claimed responsibility for the blast at Davao Airport on Mindanao Island. But the military has accused Muslim Islamic Liberation Front rebels for recent violence, including a car bombing at nearby Cotabato Airport last month in which one woman was killed.
A civil defense spokeswoman in Davao, Susan Madrid, said the explosion occurred at 5:20 p.m. local time.
"I saw bodies flying," Terry Labado, an airport official said.
"We rushed out of the building to see where the explosion happened. We saw many dead."
Hyde died sometime later in surgery from severe head and leg injuries. A former music teacher, Hyde served in church and leadership development. He and his wife, Lyn Gage Hyde, were appointed by the International Mission Board in October 1978. The Hydes have two grown sons.
Barbara and Mark Stevens, 31, were appointed in September 2000. She serves as a church and home outreach worker. Her husband is a church planter and lists his hometown as Nixa.
"They’re very close to our heart," said Tim Warren, pastor of First Baptist Church, Willard, where Barbara grew up. "They’ve come back and spoken several times, letting us know what is happening with the mission field."
"I got a call about 5:25 a.m. from the Sunday School teacher of Barbara’s mother. My reaction has just been one of unbelief."
He said Barbara had shrapnel in her foot and was released shortly after she went to the hospital.
Nathan had a bleeding disorder, he said, so the church started its prayer chain.
"The bleeding just miraculously stopped. I think there was so much prayer going up, and God just honored it. They didn’t have to do surgery."
Sarah was treated for scratches and released.
Mark Stevens was uninjured because he was in another part of the airport picking up luggage when the bomb went off, according to news reports.
Larry Stevens, a chaplain at St. John’s Regional Health Center in Springfield, said he worries about his son and daughter-in-law, but he knows they are doing important work.
"I’ve always been a strong supporter of missionary work, and I want them to be where the Lord needs them to be," he told the Springfield News-Leader.
The couple said they were excited about their mission assignment when they returned in December to southwest Missouri for a holiday visit, Warren said.
"They love spreading the good news of salvation and Jesus Christ," he said. "They were spreading the word of God’s love to the people there."
Warren said the Vacation Bible School at the church had raised money for the couple, "because they are so close to our hearts."
He said they used the money to buy cell phones, "so Barbara is able to talk to Mark when he’s dealing with the tribal people out in the middle of nowhere."
Barbara is a graduate of Southwest Missouri State University and attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Mark is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University. Mark also earned a master’s of divinity degree from Southern Seminary.
Both were church planter apprentices as International Service Corps missionaries from 1998 until they received their IMB appointments in September 2000.
Hyde was the fourth Southern Baptist worker killed in terrorist attacks in recent months. On Dec. 30, a suspected Islamic militant killed three workers at a Southern Baptist hospital in Yemen.
Larry Stevens said he doubted the bombing would diminish his son’s resolve to stay in the Phillipines.
"We talked about the fact that terrorism can happen anywhere," Stevens told the News-Leader. "Both he and Barbara feel a deep commitment to helping people know Jesus. Hopefully what happened will show the contrast between the love of Christ and the evil that some people will do." (Baptist Press, Mark Kelly of the International Mission Board, staff writer Allen Palmeri of The Pathway and the Springfield News-Leader contributed to this report.)