Slain CCC Missionary to Latvia Identified, Returned to U.S.

A missionary killed during an apparent robbery in Latvia has been identified and returned for burial in North Carolina. Andrew “Drew” Rush, who served as a missionary to Latvia for the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) was found murdered in his Riga apartment on Nov. 1, a knife stuck in his chest. Two men who knew Rush have been charged with killing him.

Rush's body arrived Friday in Charlotte, where he had lived for about 20 years and where he will be buried Monday after a funeral at the Church at Charlotte, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Rush, 50, had lived in Latvia since 1995 and taught English to Latvian military cadets, along with his missionary work, said Mara Zviedre, a spokeswoman for Agape Latvija, a Christian group Rush worked with.

Latvian authorities said one of the suspects in the killing was an army conscript. They believe Rush was strangled to death, but that the two men stabbed him to make sure he was dead, police spokeswoman Sintija Kajina told AP.

As is customary in Latvia, police would not release the names of the two men, ages 19 and 22. They informed Rush's family that Rush had counseled the soldier and was scheduled to meet with him the night of the killing.

Rush's older sister, Rosemary Thacher, herself a missionary in Nigeria, said her brother met with soldiers in groups or one-on-one. He started an English club and used the Bible to teach soldiers his native language. He took soldiers to church with him and worked with military chaplains.

"He definitely felt like he was doing a lot of good there," Thacher told AP. "I believe he would have been in the ministry for the rest of his years."

She said he never felt he was in danger.

"When you commit yourself to the ministry, if God calls you to serve, you want to obey and you go and you trust Him with your life," Thacher said. "There's danger everywhere; even here in the U.S. Drew had no reluctance to go. He never lived in fear. He wanted to serve God."

It was in 1995 that Rush joined "Commission," an arm of CCC, and took his ministry to the Ukraine. Three years later he joined the group's Military Ministry full time and in 1999 moved to Riga to spread Christianity to the Latvian troops.

"He had a heart for sharing the Gospel,” Thatcher said.

Rush, who grew up in Minnesota and Illinois and graduated from college in Iowa, had just returned to Riga from his mother's funeral in Richmond, Va. She died of cancer last month.