A Fuller Theological Seminary professor said he was shocked by news that his former student and friend, Scott Adam, was killed by Somali pirates who hijacked the Americans' yacht.
"I was shocked," said Dr. Richard Peace, professor of evangelism and spiritual formation at Fuller, to The Christian Post on Tuesday. "Why would they kill these kind people?"
News broke out Tuesday that the Somali pirates had shot dead all four Americans held captive aboard the yacht, named the Quest. Adam, his wife Jean, Phyllis Macay and Robert A. Riggle were all aboard the Quest when 19 Somali pirates hijacked the vessel off the coast of Oman on Friday. U.S. navy ships managed to surround the vessel and a standoff ensued.
But the U.S. Central Command announced yesterday that negotiations to release the American hostages had failed when gunfire erupted at about 1 a.m. ET Tuesday. When a U.S. special operations team boarded the ship, the hostages had already been shot dead. Efforts to resuscitate the victims failed.
"Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds," the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported in a statement.
The tragedy hit close to home especially for Peace because Scott Adam, the yacht's owner, was not just a former student but also a close family friend.
After working in Hollywood as a production manager and assistant director for television specials, Adam attended Fuller and became a student under Peace.
While in Hollywood, Adam was a production manager for the 1985 Steven Spielberg film "The Goonies." He was also an assistant director for several television specials and sitcoms, including "The Love Boat," "The Dukes of Hazzard," and "McCloud."
Throughout Peace's and Adam's years of friendship, the two would bring their wives for dinner get-togethers, carpool, and Peace even became Adam's doctorial advisor for his PhD in Theology.
Adam had finished his master of divinity degree at Fuller in 2000 and his master of theology degree at Fuller in 2010.
As a devout Episcopalian, Adam had initially considered becoming an ordained minister or a seminarian. However, Adam never finished his PhD. Adam eventually drifted from his study and decided to leave Fuller. After selling his home, he began living his dream.
"He had a deep sense of calling," Peace recalled. "The nature and the shape of that ministry was something he was working on."
The thing Adam enjoyed the most was sailing. He regularly sailed during his doctoral studies and would finish his school assignments aboard his boat, the Quest. It was this passion that led Adam and his wife on long voyages around the world to distribute Bibles.
"His ministry really became meshed with his cruising," Peace said.
In between stops on remote islands, they connected with local churches. Adam often offered church members Bibles, and at times he was invited to preach. The Bibles he brought became popular so he began bringing Bibles in various languages to increase the number he could give out during his worldwide sailing trips. The Adams continued this work for nine years.
"It became his retirement, a form of ministry," Peace noted.
Peace is still stunned and curious about how Adam ended up in a hijacking situation. According to Peace, Adam was a skilled sailor who knew how to care for his boat and was traveling in relative safety with other boats.
While in India, Adam had emailed Peace, describing how well-maintained the ship was. Jean Adamswas a retired dentist and had the habit of keeping the vessel adequately stocked with medical supplies.
There was no reason, Peace said, for Adam to break away from the other boats. "I don't think we have the whole story," Peace concluded.
On Tuesday, Fuller President Richard Mouw released a statement, "All of us at Fuller are proud of Scott's Christian witness – as a filmmaker, through his personal interactions, and as a generous disciple who touched lives around the world through his sailing ministry. We only wish the pirates had known what precious cargo they hijacked."
The Institute on Religion and Public Policy reacted to news of the fatal hijacking incident by calling on the international community to unite in a coordinated effort to monitor and combat piracy.
"The international piracy issue has reached an entirely new level of disturbance, as it has now crossed into religious persecution," said Joseph K. Grieboski, founder and board chairman of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, in a statement.
Pirating, once largely recognized as the subject of fiction and movies, has become a dangerous epidemic off Somali shores. In the past year alone, the United Nations reports 286 cases of piracy off the coast of Somalia, resulting in 67 hijacked ships involving 1,130 seafarers.
Disruptions in trade caused by hijackings have resulted in $7-12 billion in losses to the world's economy.
Poverty and a weak central government have created an industry for high-seas pirating in Somalia. The country has not had a functioning central government for the past 20 years.
During that time, Somalia has been caught up in tribal warfare involving Al Shabaab and other Islamist militias.