MBC/Iraq partnership will go as Missouri Southern Baptists grieve, react to the loss of life in Mosul
By Don Hinkle
March 16, 2004
|Worth the risk
David McDonnall loved the people of Iraq deeply, and it was his love for them and for God that led him to risk his life and give the ultimate sacrifice in service to the Kingdom. McDonnall died Tuesday morning on a helicopter that was ferrying him to a military hospital in Baghdad after four U.S. military surgeons worked for six hours to save his life. McDonnall’s wife, Carrie Taylor McDonnall, 26, of Rowlett , Texas , remains in critical condition.
|Carrie McDonnall (left) with Karen Watson.|
JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) partnership with Iraq will go on despite the deadly March 14 attack by terrorists in which four Southern Baptist Convention relief workers were killed and one seriously wounded.
A team of Missouri Baptists had been scheduled to depart for Iraq March 20 to work with the slain workers, but that trip has now been cancelled. Future MBC trips to Iraq have been postponed as MBC leaders assess how best to proceed with the partnership. The MBC is the only state convention with a partnership with Iraq through the International Mission Board (IMB).
The five Southern Baptist victims of the terrorist attack were on a humanitarian mission and were looking for an appropriate water purification system site when they were hit by a hail of gunfire from at least two gunmen.
The four dead are Larry T. Elliott, 60, and Jean Dover Elliott, 58, of Cary, N.C., Karen Denise Watson, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif.; and David E. McDonnall, 29, of Rowlett, Texas. McDonnall died Tuesday morning on a helicopter that was ferrying him to a military hospital in Baghdad after four U.S. military surgeons worked for six hours to save his life.
McDonnall’s wife, Carrie Taylor McDonnall, 26, of Rowlett , Texas , remains in critical condition.
The Missouri Baptist Convention is purchasing plane tickets to fly Carrie McDonnall’s parents, Jon and Margaret Taylor, to Germany to be with their daughter. Before their departure they are being joined in Dallas by an IMB representative and David McDonnall’s parents, who learned of their son’s death while traveling on vacation from their home in Colorado to Louisiana .
Lt. Col. Joseph Piek, a spokesman for American forces in Mosul , said the five Americans were traveling in one car on the eastern side of the city when they were attacked.
An off-duty Iraqi policeman found the car right after the shooting. He told the Associated Press that three were dead at the scene. The officer took the McDonnalls to an Iraqi hospital before U.S. Army medical helicopters transported them to a combat support hospital in Mosul .
The Elliotts had served with the IMB in Honduras since 1978 and transferred to the Middle East in February 2004. Watson had been with the board since March 2003.
“The Elliotts were a great couple who were doing what God wanted them to do," said Ken McCune, a church planter who worked with the Elliotts in Honduras from 1988 until 1996. “Larry and Jean were sweethearts from a young age. Larry was valuable in the Lord’s service in many ways, but most notably doing what we understand he was doing at the time they were killed, which was to help provide clean, fresh water to nationals. In the process there is no telling how many came to know the Living Water through that ministry. Jean also served in many ways, but we especially recall her coordinating the eyeglass ministry in Honduras , which again helped many know both spiritual as well as physical sight."
There are people all over this country and the world who are deeply sadden by this tragedy, said Bob Griffin, pastor, Parker Road Baptist Church, Florissant, Mo., and an IMB trustee who took part in Watson’s missionary commissioning ceremony last year.
“Karen had a deep desire, a spiritual compulsion to find people who needed the Lord and to help them in every way — including sharing the Gospel," he said.
David Clippard, MBC executive director, asked all Southern Baptists in Missouri pray for the families of the slain and for Carrie McDonnall and her family. Clippard and Roy Spannagel, MBC associate executive director who has coordinated the state convention’s partnership with Iraq , called the Taylors March 16 to express their condolences.
“Margaret said, ‘I have never seen anybody who loved Jesus as much as David McDonnall did,’" said Spannagel in relaying some of what was said in their telephone conversation March 16. “Carrie and David were an awesome couple. They learned Arabic just to be able to share the Gospel with Arabic speaking nations. David had a warmth that radiated the presence of the Lord."
Clippard said he was also struck at the deep commitment the McDonnalls had in their work for Christ.
“Having met and spent some time with the McDonnalls, I know they had a passionate heart for Jesus and their desire was to see the Iraqi people come to Christ," Clippard said. “I pray that God will grant the vision that they worked — and laid their life down — for."
Scott Brawner, MBC student evangelism specialist was David McDonnall’s instructor for IMB desert survivor training and remembers his friend fondly.
“I’ve known David since 1999 and had worked with him in Sudan , Jordan and Iraq ," Brawner said. “I’ve never known a more honorable man or someone so passionate about the Gospel than David. My friend will be dearly missed, but he has received his ultimate crown of victory from the Lord Jesus and we celebrate his life and death by praising God from whom all blessings flow.
Brawner said that David had told him about his wife Carrie, but that had never met her until this past December when he went with a team of Missouri Baptists to work with the McDonnalls in Mosul .
“Carrie’s love for David and the Lord was evident and her commitment to proclaiming the Gospel will continue to be an inspiration to me," Brawner said.
IMB President Jerry Rankin said all Southern Baptists shared the sorrow and grief of the families and co-workers.
“In times like this, there are no words that will take away the pain of a loved one’s violent death," Rankin said. “Everyone in the IMB family and everyone who loves Southern Baptists’ overseas workers are grieving with the family members and co-workers of these precious souls.
“We are grateful that God Himself comes alongside us in our deepest sorrow and comforts us in a way no one else can."
The IMB has mobilized its prayer network and is asking Christians everywhere to pray for the healing of the injured workers and the comforting of all the families involved. The board is ministering to the families of the victims.
The deaths of the four the SBC workers comes barely a year after IMB missionary Bill Hyde was killed by a terrorist bomb at the airport in Davao City, Philippines. Just 14 months ago, Southern Baptists also suffered through the deaths of three workers who were murdered by a terrorist at the Baptist hospital in Jibla , Yemen .