Martha Myers: Servant of Christ

Jan 07, 2003 11:40 AM EST

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Saturday, January 4, 2003, more than 1,200 people gathered at Dalraida Baptist Church in Montgomery to commemorate the life of a friend, daughter, physician, missionary, and beloved servant of God. Martha Myers, the slain Alabama Baptist who devoted her life and Career to medical work in Yemen, was remembered throughout the celebration as a selfless, obedient and loving child of God.

"Martha was a victorious Christian and was obedient until death," said Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida, Myers' home church. He continued, "She had no life of her own, it was of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Evans spoke of the gospel that burned within the 57 year old obstetrician who devoted her life for the International Mission Board work in Yemen. Quoting passages from the bible, Evans testified her faith as that of apostle Paul and the Martyred Stephen.

Evans quoted Philippians 1:21 which states, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," and 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

"All three stayed on God's course," Evans said. "[Staying on course in God's will] is not easy because it is a life of self-denial, but they never denied his will.

"What a misguided, deprived heart meant for evil, God has meant for good," Evans said.

"[Martha] was always obedient to the call of God," Evans remembered, "even as a GA [Girls in Action member] and as a medical student."

He continued on, reading a poem dedicated to Myers by a schoolmate, "We sang, she went. We sang, she told."

"Because of her ministry and her obedience, there was a difference made," Evans said.

Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, carried on the dedication, witnessing Myers' faithful service, reminding friends and family members of her beloved life.

"Only those who saw her take a sick Arab child in her arms could understand what a servant is," Rankin said. "Each day she lived there, ... she died to self.

"Martha's colleagues said the gunmen did not take her life," Rankin noted. "She lost her life to Jesus Christ years ago when she trusted him.

"Martha was not living for herself ... but to serve others. Her life exemplified Jesus Christ," he said.

Rankin continued, reminding those at the memorial service that faith is "not just hope of personal salvation but also the hope that everything one lives for will one day be fulfilled. Could it be the gain [of death] will one day be the salvation of the people of Yemen?"

Myers' life as a servant of Christ was respected, but most of those gathered there testified here friendship. Pat Harris, a close friend of Myers, shared at the memorial service of the love of Myers for Yemen. While Myers was home for a year through technical problems, she wished every second to return to Yemen, shared Harris. She continued to say that God used her services that year in Montgomery.

"I already had a walk with the Lord, but Martha ... in her gentle and soft ways ... showed me that I was not a selfless servant," Harris said.

"She was a wonderful mentor," Harris said. "She was so close to the Lord that she didn't realize how much wisdom she had.

"She had a divine appointment with me," Harris said. "I praise the Lord for the opportunity to have her as part of my life."

At a prior service at January 2, 2003, Lynette Granade, a fellow congregate of Myers said, "She was our Baptist version of Mother Teresa -- that says it all."

"Over the years we stayed close friends, and our children just loved her too," Lynette Granade said, reminiscing upon the times Myers stayed with them throughout the year when put on stateside assignment from Yemen.

At this memorial Service held in Mobile, several colleagues, pastors and friends presented Myers as a person full of love, dedicated to serving others. Jim Fisher, the first vice chairman of the board of trustees for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City represented Phil Roberts, president of the seminary where Myers studied before leaving for Yemen in 1978.

Myers graduated from Samford University in 1967, and earned a doctor of medicine degree from the Medical College of Alabama at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1971. Soon after her graduation, Myers visited Yemen where she fell in love with the people and the country.

"Yemen was where her heart was," said Myers' younger sister, Joanna Kingery, in an interview following the shooting. "She had become Yemeni, and they counted her as one of them. She was committed to them."

Even if Myers had known she would be killed, Kingery believes she would have stayed anyway.

"She wouldn't have done it any differently," Kingery said, noting that Myers once said, "If I'm fortunate enough to be here when I die ... ."

Myers' body was buried in Yemen under the consent of the entire Myers family.

"In Alabama, Martha's grave would just be a grave," her father, Ira Myers, said. "In Yemen, her grave is a testimony."

The Yemeni people built a casket for Myers and Koehn, another slain International Missions Board worker, who had also requested to be buried in Yemen. "It was built with love by the people who loved her," Kingery said.

Myers and Koehn were buried together Dec. 31 in one of only two Christian cemeteries in the country. The one where they were buried is located at the top of the 22-acre compound where Jibla Baptist Hospital sits. The joint funeral service saw 40,000 participants, many of them Yemeni nationals lined in the streets for half a mile outside the hospital gates to pay their respects.

During the funeral 40,000 Yemeni nationals gathered at the hospital and lined the street for a half-mile outside the hospital gates to pay their respects. The lined gathers then sang in Unison, "He Is Lord" in Arabic and recited the Lord's Prayer, in spite of the threat of death for professing their faith.

"They had to be sensitive, but they were there," Rankin said. "Something motivated them -- Jesus Christ. ... Our Father is being glorified in the lives of those who gave their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ."

Evans said, "[The faith of the workers who died] is becoming reality because they and others have given their lives to sharing the gospel."

After the funeral, the Myers' family visited with friends and guests for 3 hours.

A souvenir table was also set up to commemorate the moments of Myers' life. The table was filled with pictures of Myers and the countryside, attractive dolls and other Yemenis handmade items and also a book of forgiveness.

"We are not angry," said Myers' father, a physician and former state public health department director. "Our faith in God is what we depend upon, and God is love," he said. "There is no place for hate."

By Pauline C.