Present Day Martyrs: Four Baptist Missionaries Killed While Serving in Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq. -- Barely one year since a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary was killed in a terrorist bombing in the Philippines, and 14 months since three missionaries were murdered at the Baptist hospital in Yemen, four workers who were researching needs for humanitarian projects in northern Iraq were killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, March 15, 2004.

Police in Mosul reported that the group of three women and two men had been delivering relief items at the time of the shooting. According to the report, attackers sped alongside the vehicle, ambushed them, and then sped off. Four of the workers died from bullet and shell fragment wounds fired by the unidentified assailants wielding automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Of those attacked, Larry T. Elliott, 60, and Jean Dover Elliott, 58, of Cary, North Carolina, and Karen Denise Watson, 38, of Bakersfield, California, were immediately killed.

According to the IMB, Watson, who was a member of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., had been with the board since March 2003.

The Elliotts, members of First Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., had served with the International Mission Board in Honduras since 1978 and transferred to the Middle East in February 2004. They kept close tabs with members of the church; whenever they were stateside, they stayed at First Baptist’s mission house.

David E. McDonnall, 28, and Carrie Taylor McDonnall, 26, of Rowlett, Texas, who joined the International Mission Board in November 2003, were critically injured from the ambush.

Late Monday night, David succumbed to the wounds, raising the death count to four; Four U.S. military surgeons had worked six hours to save his life.

"One of the wounded persons died overnight at approximately 3:30 am (1230 GMT) en route by military aircraft from the US Army combat support hospital in Mosul to the combat support hospital in Baghdad," the military said.

Carrie remains in critical condition as of March 16.

The McDonnalls were members of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. The McDonnalls, who had met as IMB workers in the Middle East, celebrated their first wedding anniversary during a volunteer trip to Iraq last June.

The IMB president, Jerry Rankin, said in a statement, that all Southern Baptists share in the sorrow and grief of the families and co-workers of the victims.

"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 also mobilized its prayer network, and asked Christians worldwide to pray for the healing of the injured and the comforting of all families.