RICHMOND, Va. — Instead of celebrating with flowers, chocolates and a romantic dinner, emeritus missionary Lyn Hyde spent her 43rd wedding anniversary alone. On June 12, 1966, Lyn had vowed to love, honor and cherish her husband, Bill, until death parted them. In 2003 a terrorist’s bomb at a Philippines airport did just that.
As she sat on an airplane following her husband’s body back to the United States, Lyn decided she would never return to the Philippines.
But God had a different plan.
God began impressing on Lyn’s heart the story of Joseph and how many trials he had to overcome.
“Even though he was sold into slavery by his brothers, he was wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife, he was thrown into prison … he never gave up,” Lyn says. “Even though he maybe did not understand why all this was happening, he still trusted and believed in his God. And so the Lord was teaching me. I may not understand why God allowed my husband to be killed by a bomb, but God understood and I could still trust Him. And even though going back to the Philippines would not be easy, I could still trust that there was a purpose (in) going back and not to give up.”
When Lyn returned to the mission field the following year, her new assignment was helping train Filipinos to work in closed-access countries.
It was during this time she found comfort in God’s faithfulness to Joseph.
“God really used those passages in Genesis for taking me back to the Philippines and keeping me there on some of the days when I said ‘I can’t do it, God. I just can’t be here,” she says. “I can’t do what you are asking me to do.’”
Ironically, it was among the Filipinos that Lyn found closure.
One Sunday evening, she attended the worship service of a partnering Baptist church. The guest speaker, before giving his life over to the Lord, had made it his mission to kill Christians. He was following a legacy passed down from family members who were imams [Muslim leaders].
His message at church that night was about his conversion from Islam to Christianity.
Although the speaker had never met Lyn, “he just shot off that platform and came directly to me and grabbed my hands, and he said to me, ‘Please forgive my people for what they did to you and to your family,’” she recalls. “‘I have killed Christians because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. And many of those people, I have not ever been able to go back (to their families) and ask for forgiveness.’”
Lyn told the man she forgave him.
“(That was) one of those moments I knew that’s why God called me back there — not only to give me some comfort, but to release this man from the things he had done before he knew Jesus Christ,” she says. “That was just something the Lord knew He needed to put in my life so there would at least be a face of one [former terrorist] that was sorry for having killed my husband and taken away the father to my children. [God] enabled me to stay until He made it clear that He was releasing me from the Philippines to come back to America.”
After 31 years of missionary service, Lyn retired in June 2009.
She and Bill had dreamed of living in the mountains someday but put that dream on hold when they moved to the Philippines. Now, however, Lyn has made a home for herself in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“As I was praying about when to retire and where to retire, the Lord just clearly led me that I was to follow that desire that my husband and I had — and that He has something special for me there. So I’m going to continue with that…. I think Bill would be pretty happy.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Anderson is a correspondent for the International Mission Board.)