February 25, 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, 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 19 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 left side and 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."
He said the Vacation Bible School at the church had raised money for the couple, "because they are so close to our hearts."
Warren 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. (Baptist Press, Mark Kelly of the International Mission Board, staff writer Allen Palmeri of The Pathway.)