Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 21, 2009

A Vengeance of Love

Steve Hyde, Director of Asia for Jesus, is our host and guide in Cambodia. He is a big man with a gentle disposition. Steve is married to a Cambodian woman named Noit. They have two very beautiful kids. But, beyond the surface of things lies an amazing story. Steve and Noit have more in common than their love for God and commitment to Jesus Christ. They both have suffered the loss of loved ones as a result of acts of cruelty, hatred, and violence.

Noit’s entire family died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. She was eleven years-old when the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh in 1975 and forced the entire population of the city to evacuate. Her father was a school teacher and was executed. The rest of her family died over the next two years. She alone survived. Steve told us this story in greater detail as we stood in the shadow of the Memorial Stupa that houses more than 8,000 human skulls at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center located south of Phnom Penh. And, Steve told us this story through his tears. Although he never had the opportunity to know his wife’s family, he feels their loss very deeply.

Steve’s father, Bill Hyde, was martyred on March 4, 2003. Bill was also a big man with a big vision for reaching the people of the Philippines with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Bill and his wife Lyn served as Southern Baptist missionaries in Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao. They effectively trained national Christians to plant churches in remote Muslim villages. Over their years of service among Muslims, Bill received many death threats. However, these threats did not deter him from traveling to and working in some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines.

On March 4, Bill went to the small airport outside of Davao City to pick up fellow missionaries who were returning from Manila. While at the airport, members of one of Mindanao’s Muslim rebel groups detonated a bomb hidden in an unattended bag. The explosion injured more than one hundred fifty Filipinos and killed twenty-one people – including Bill Hyde.

When Steve received word about the bombing and that his father was barely clinging to life at Davao Doctors Hospital, he arranged to fly to Mindanao. En route, sensing that his Dad had died, he unmistakably heard God’s gentle voice telling him to avenge his father’s death with love. Later, at his father’s funeral service in Iowa, Steve said: “I will avenge my father’s death. Not by killing or violence. I’ll go into this dark world and shine the light of Jesus into dark places.”

In the years since his father’s death, Steve continues to train indigenous Christians to reach their own people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, the men who came to Christ under his father’s ministry have planted hundreds of churches with almost 10,000 believers. Jerry Rankin, President of the International Mission Board, said: “Reaching all peoples for Christ will not be accomplished without the blood of the martyrs.” He is right. And, no act of terror will halt the advance of the gospel. The blood of the martyrs is indeed the seed of the church.

After his father’s death, Steve and his family placed a wreath at the site of the explosion that claimed the life of Bill Hyde. The banner on the wreath said: “From the Bill Hyde family and Americans who love Filipinos and know they are worth dying for.” Lyn, Steve’s mom, continues to serve and prays that her ministry might one day send Filipinos to reach those who killed her husband — and train them how to give life, not take it.

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