THEY GAVE HIM THEIR LIVES
By Berit Kjos
January 7, 2003
"It's easy to love your neighbor and to love your friends and to love your family. The miracle occurs when you love (don't hate or resent) your enemy."  Lee Hixon, a fellow-missionary at Jibla Baptist hospital
“This (gunman) did not take their lives; they chose to give their lives.”  John Brady, the International Mission Board’s regional leader for
Northern Africaand the Middle East
Some years ago, I read a popular book written to draw young people to the mission field. It promised adventure, good fellowship and spiritual growth through short-term missions. See the world, it beckoned. Travel for God!
Clever marketing! Naturally, many answered the exciting call.
But God's call is different. He doesn't lure His servants with promises of fun and pleasure. Instead He warns us to "count the cost" and to resist the natural impulse to seek feel-good experiences. He seeks disciples who will love Him more than the world -- who are willing to share in His suffering and follow Him anywhere. Few may answer His call, but those who do will share a joy that can't be compared with the world's thrills and entertainment.
Martha Myers, the missionary doctor murdered on
December 30, 2002, knew that well. She didn't fear death when God sent her to a Muslim country hostile to Christianity. Nor did she flee when was shown to be a haven for Muslim militants, including al-Qa'eda members.  Instead, she saw a poverty-stricken people in desperate need of medical care and hungry for God's love. Yemen
The intensity and pressure of the work at the clinic didn't keep her from reaching out to the more distant people in her "free" time. Driving a Toyota Land Cruiser on bumpy dirt roads from village to village, she offered help, hope, medicine and treatment to the poor along the way. "Everywhere she stopped on the road, people flocked around and she'd write prescriptions and hold court,"  said her father, Dr. Ira Myers.
Dr. Myers knew that her safety was in God's hands. Four years earlier, a group of armed men hijacked her
and hid her under a blanket in the back of the car. When they threatened to kill her for speaking the truth, she answered, "Well, I'll be in heaven!"  Toyota
Trusting God, she had nothing to fear. Neither Muslim militants, highway robbers nor other life-threatening dangers could shatter her peace in Christ. Though friends and relatives cautioned her, "she just depended on the Lord to take care of her," said her father. 
Her 24 years of ministry in
ended when Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel, an Islamist militant armed with a semiautomatic pistol burst into into the humble Jibla Baptist Hospital which serves about 40,000 patients a year. Interrupting an early morning meeting, the gunman shot the much-loved surgeon along with two fellow missionaries, Bill Koehn and Kathy Gariety. He later told police he had killed them to "cleanse his religion and get closer to Allah."  Yemen
The surviving missionaries were quick to forgive the murderer. "My friends [at the hospital] want you to know that they don't hold anything against the assailant," said Dr. Judy Williams. "They want him to know that they forgive him and they want him to know God's forgiveness." 
"It's easier to forgive because I know her heart for the people," added her brother-in-law Mark Kingery back home in
The people they had served were devastated by the deaths. Yemeni hospital workers built caskets for Koehn and Myers, dug their graves and lowered the bodies into the ground themselves.
"This is my father," one of the Yemeni hospital workers said, referring to Bill Koehn, the slain administrator. "I have to do this."
Hundreds of Yemenis gathered at the hospital for the January 1 memorial service, while many others lined the roads to the hospital. "Something is happening in my heart," said one Yemeni national. 
That's not surprising. He had been touched by God's self-sacrificing love which has been changing hearts for over 2000 years.
"The people here who love us are decimated even more than we are, because they don’t see the big picture," said Kaye Rock, another fellow-missionary. "But the Bible says ‘Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the blood of his saints.’ The church is built on the blood of the martyrs, and any of those three people would have gladly given their lives for that.” 
"They freely chose to give their lives to serve the people of this country," said Dr. Williams. "And although their lives on earth have ended, nothing was taken from them that they hadn't already freely given." 
The natural reaction to ongoing threats is to flee to a safer place. But that's not an option for those who have trusted God with their lives. “We can’t let someone with a gun make us afraid to do what God wants us to do,” said Kaye. 
"We've been begged not to [leave]," said Lee Hixon, another co-worker. "Many [Yemeni] count these folks as family." Confident that God is in control, he knows that "the call of Jesus Christ to take the gospel personally to hurting individuals far outweighs the risks of living in a country like
."  Yemen
So he and others will stay until God leads them out. After all, it's in these hard places that God's love becomes all the more visible. As we have seen in
, nothing spreads God's good news -- and filters out the alluring counterfeits -- more effectively than persecution. For China
"...we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are
· hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed...
· perplexed, but not in despair
· persecuted, but not forsaken;
· struck down, but not destroyed
— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
As Quintus Tertullian wrote back the second (or early third) century:
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
© 2002 Berit Kjos - All Rights Reserved
Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher. Author of: A Twist of Faith, Your Child and the New Age and Brave New Schools writer of magazine articles, a popular conference speaker, and a concerned parent.
Kjos first became aware of New Age and occult influences in our society at a 1974 conference on holistic health. As a registered nurse, she was interested in methods of healing, but soon discovered that the occult powers found in New Age methods brought bondage instead of true healing. As a parent, Kjos became aware of similar New Age influences in education. She began to monitor the schools for classroom programs that taught occultism and New Age spirituality, then began to share what she learned with other parents and teachers. She also explains what programs such as Goals 2000 are all about, and why all students-even homeschoolers-eventually will be required to demonstrate competence in the new social and thinking skills before they can move on to higher education or jobs.
Kjos has given workshops and seminars at conferences such as the Association for Christian Schools International and CHEA. She has spoken at conferences for such groups as The Steeling of the Mind, The Constitutional Coalition, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Concerned Women for America.
A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed several times on The 700 Club, Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on "Talk Back Live" (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Kjos Ministries Web Site: http://www.crossroad.to/index.html