What’s next for Missouri Baptists and the demonic stronghold on Iraq?
By Bob Baysinger
March 30, 2004
|Missouri Baptist Convention leaders who worked with David and Carrie McDonnall in December prayed over the couple, asking God to use them as workers in Iraq. Pathway photo.
MBC executive director assesses the situation following the murder of four SBC workers
JEFFERSON CITY – The murder of four Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq will not end the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) efforts to take the Gospel message to the war-torn nation, according to David Clippard, MBC executive director.
“Our resolve to carry out the mission has not changed, but out strategy to carry out that mission may change," Clippard said March 24. “Our convention has pledged its support to our International Mission Board (IMB) for this cause."
The MBC leader’s resolve to reach Iraq was one of several pieces of information he shared during an in-depth interview with The Pathway following the March 15 attack in Iraq which claimed the lives of Larry T. Elliott, 60, his wife, Jean, 58, of Cary, N.C., Karen Denis Watson, 38, of Bakersvile, Calif., and David McDonnall, 28, of Colorado Springs.
McDonnall’s wife, Carrie, is the only survivor of the attack. She is recuperating at a hospital near her parents’ home in the Dallas , Texas area.
A team of Missouri Baptists had been scheduled to depart for Iraq on March 20 to work with the McDonnalls. That trip was canceled. Clippard said future MBC trips to Iraq have been postponed as convention leaders assess how best to proceed with the partnership. The MBC is the only state convention with a partnership with Iraq through the IMB.
The Pathway: What was your reaction to news that four American Southern Baptist missionaries had been murdered in Iraq ?
Clippard: I met the McDonnalls in Iraq last June. It was on the day of their first wedding anniversary. They were leading a team of people doing humanitarian relief projects, such as the distribution of a portion of the food boxes sent by Southern Baptists earlier in the year. Two things struck me during that meeting and the meal we shared.
Their love for Christ, His mission and the urgency to take Christ to the Arabic peoples superceded their love for each other. Scripture (Deut. 24:5) tells us that in the first year of marriage, newlyweds should have one year free to themselves to establish their own household and family relationship. Having met in the Middle East on journeyman assignments with the IMB, David and Carrie sensed the opportunity for the Gospel in Iraq so urgently that they set aside personal privilege and continued diligently to carry the Gospel to Iraq .
Also, this young couple were typical newlyweds. You could see their love and how they each cherished the other as a gift God had given them. Personally, I was wondering how they could at least have this one day for themselves to celebrate. Instead, they served others. Their commitment was huge.
When I heard of the ambush and loss of our missionaries, it was more than just a news report. I was deeply grieved for the tragedy and the loss of such great servants to the Kingdom and Southern Baptist missions.
The Pathway: Specifically, will Missouri Baptists be asked to go to Iraq later this year or ever?
Clippard: Every Missouri Baptist knows the inherent dangers in undertaking this strategic mission. This danger has not stopped dozens of Missouri Baptists from going or committing to go to Iraq . This tells us of the great heart for missions our MBC people have. What our partnership with the IMB will look like in the days ahead is yet to unfold. Course corrections to enhance safety will no doubt be made before any other projects are undertaken. We will pray and work with our IMB leadership to develop future strategies to carry the Gospel to Iraq .
The Pathway: You – and others — have stated that a window to take the Gospel to Iraq has opened but no one knows how long that window will remain open. Do you believe the window has closed?
Clippard: I do not believe the window has closed. As long as we have our military presence in Iraq, the opportunity is there. When the military is finally removed, the new government and Islamic culture may close the window. Historically, wherever GIs have gone, the Gospel has gone with them.
The Pathway: You have made it clear that you believe God spoke to you about the Iraqi partnership? Do you still feel that it was God’s will for Missouri Southern Baptists to partner with Iraq ?
Clippard: Yes. I do believe in prayer that God clearly spoke. Sharing this word with Missouri Baptists across the state has received complete support. Iraq has been closed to Christianity since Mohammed’s armies swept across it in about 660 AD. For the first time in 14 centuries, Christianity has the door opened to it.
The Pathway: Have Missouri Southern Baptists done all they could do up until this most recent tragedy in Iraq?
Clippard: Yes. When this mission field opened, it presented a very unique “partnership." It was unique from the standpoint that there were no IMB personnel in country to help coordinate the work of volunteers. When Missouri Baptists arrived, they were the in-country personnel. So we were – and are – doing all that is possible at this time. We are continually making adjustments to strategy to become more effective.
The Pathway: Is there more of a demonic response to the Gospel in Iraq than in other Muslim nations?
Clippard: The Bible tells us of many great spiritual battles and strongholds that have always gripped this land. I believe that prayer support and warfare prayer for the work and laborers in this land must continue. This is the land where Nimrod ruled. This is the land where all of humanity rebelled against God’s clear instruction to fill the ear and they built the Tower of Babel. It is also the place where the prophet Daniel had to wait 21 days for his answer to prayer because of a great spiritual battle between Gabriel and the demonic prince of Persia (Dan. 10:12-14). Only when the archangel Michael joined in the spiritual battle did the answer to Daniel’s prayer arrive. Spiritual strongholds are mighty here. We MUST be fervent in prayer for this land and this people.