Southern Baptist Missionary Among Philippines Dead

A Southern Baptist missionary who was among 21 people killed Tuesday by a bomb in the Philippines had dedicated about 25 years of his life to working in that country, his family said.

William P. Hyde, 59, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was greeting colleagues at an airport when the bomb went off. He died in surgery from severe head and leg injuries, according to the Richmond-based International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"We've always been afraid of the danger. My mother always worried that we would get a call some day," said Hyde's sister, Barbara Brooker, of Iowa City.

Hyde was the fourth Southern Baptist worker killed in terrorist attacks in recent months. On Dec. 30, a suspected Islamic militant killed three workers at a Southern Baptist hospital in Yemen.

Hyde and his wife, Lyn, had been missionaries since 1978. They had spent the last six or seven in Davao, a city on Mindanao, the Philippines' main southern island where the government has been fighting Muslim rebels.

Authorities said the bomb was hidden in a backpack. Lyn Hyde theorized someone set the backpack down next to her husband because he was an obvious American target, Brooker said.

"In the Philippines, he would stick out. He's a very big man," Brooker said.

Nearly 150 people were injured, including missionary Barbara Wallis Stevens, 33, of Willard, Mo., who was wounded by shrapnel in her left side and foot. Her 10-month-old son, Nathan, was seriously injured with shrapnel in the liver.

Stevens -- a church and home outreach worker -- said her daughter, Sarah, received minor injuries and her husband was not hurt. Hyde had gone to the airport to greet the Stevenses, who had flown in from Manila.

Hyde was a former music teacher who worked in church leadership and development. He and his wife have two grown sons, one of whom is a missionary in Cambodia.

A friend, Marion Livingston, said Bill Hyde loved to sing and loved to play golf.

"He loved the Lord and loved the Filipino people," Livingston said. "If he had to die, he died doing what he felt the Lord wanted to him to do."

David Miller, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, called Hyde was "kind of the teddy bear type -- kind, gentle and always smiling."

"They knew that it was dangerous over there," Miller added. "They were on our prayer sheet week by week for their safety."

Miller said the Hydes had been close friends of Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries from a group called New Tribes Mission who were kidnapped in 2001 by the Philippine Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf. Martin Burnham was killed during a rescue operation in June 2002 and his wife was wounded.

After the attack in Yemen, a group of Southern Baptist missionaries working in Muslim countries issued a statement asking leaders of their denomination to tone down their criticism of Islam for safety reasons. The missionaries said denigrating Islam put them at risk as they work to spread Christianity under dangerous conditions overseas.