MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- If Martha Myers had been told that she would be shot and killed in Yemen, she would have stayed there, her friends and relatives believe.
"She had such a passion for ministry to the people of Yemen," Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., where Myers was a member, told The Birmingham News. "She gave her life to it. It's all she wanted to talk about."
Myers, 57, was one of three Southern Baptist International Mission Board personnel killed Dec. 30 when a lone gunman smuggled a rifle into the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen where Myers was a physician.
The Birmingham News reported Dec. 31 that Myers was known to drive a Toyota Land Cruiser through the mountains of Yemen, immunizing children and dispensing salves and eye drops to the poor. She was greeted with shouts of "Dr. Martha" wherever she traveled in Yemen, relatives told the Montgomery Advertiser.
"She loved the country, she loved the people and she loved being a doctor to help take care of them," Pat Harris, a friend from Montgomery, told The Birmingham News. "She'd give her last dollar so someone else would have food or medical help."
Myers was aware of the danger posed in Yemen but her love for the people kept her there. About four years ago, armed men hijacked her Toyota, forced her to lie down in the back, threw a rug over her and threatened to kill her if she spoke, the Birmingham newspaper recounted.
"Well, I'll be in heaven," was her reply, according to her brother, Grady Myers. The men soon abandoned Myers and the vehicle when it stalled.
In another testimony of her faith in the Lord and devotion to the people of Yemen, Grady Myers said his sister gave most of her money away to help those in need. Recently, she gave her savings account to help pay the cost of a kidney transplant for one of the hospital patients, Myers told the Montgomery Advertiser.
"Martha was unusual," he said. "She didn't care about money. It was all about who she could help."
During brief periods of stateside assignment in 1999 and 2001, Myers visited churches throughout Alabama, talking about her mission work and collecting supplies for the Yemeni people, the Advertiser recounted. She collected enough supplies to fill 15 trunks to send back to Yemen.
She loved Yemen so much that her brother said she had requested to be buried in the country. The Advertiser reported that the family is honoring the wish, and the Yemen funeral will be videotaped and sent to the family in the States.
"She's in heaven, for sure," her father, Ira Myers, who was Alabama's state health officer from 1963 until 1986, told The Birmingham News. "That's why you don't have any fear. So from that standpoint, we'll see her again. It's a matter of who gets there first."
By Albert H. Lee