CORPUS CHRISTI?Every time Terri Caswell attends a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention gathering she remembers the first year the state convention met.
“I had the great privilege of having my name on that charter and to see what God is doing through the SBTC,” the Southern Baptist representative to Yemen told a supportive crowd of more than 1,000 messengers and guests Oct. 27 during the SBTC’s sixth annual meeting.
The story of Don and Terri Caswell’s lives goes back much further than the five years since SBTC was formed, however. “It started before the foundation of the world,” she said, citing Psalm 139.
On Dec. 30, the Caswells, members of First Baptist Church, Eustace, will mark the first anniversary of the shooting at a Baptist Hospital in Jibla, Yemen which killed three Southern Baptist workers and sent Don near death.
After Don rested up from his injury and subsequent surgery, the family returned to the United States for a six-month furlough to decide their next step.
“We really didn’t know if we were to go back to Yemen or exactly what God had in store for us,” Don said, admitting that he didn’t expect they’d return. “But during that period of prayer and meditation, over time, God revealed to us the same call he gave us in the beginning.
“We could forgive them and love them just as God loved us,” Don said.
Further encouragement came as the widow of martyred worker Bill Koehn continued serving in the area where her husband was killed. Although the Islamic religion offers no security as to one’s eternal destiny, Don said all of the Muslims with whom he had talked expressed confidence that the three workers who were killed are now with God. “That is a great testimony to the lives they lived among the people.”
Don asked, “What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to go? If we don’t obey God’s call, then we will never experience the peace and joy that he has in store for us when we obey that call.”
Fear, middle age and safety were three of the reasons Don hesitated to respond to God’s call, he said. Despite those excuses, he related how he felt closer to God when the gunman prepared to pull the trigger than at any moment in his life. “A closeness of my God with me at that time gave me a peace and comfort I can’t describe. I thank God he allowed me to experience that at that time.”
Terri Caswell remembered the day the opportunity was extended to serve in Yemen. Looking on a map to see where it was, she said, “Immediately, with no hesitation, we said, “‘No!'” She added, “It was right smack dab in the middle of the Middle East and we didn’t feel God would call us to take our children to that place.” In time God worked to change their hearts, providing “calm assurance” to the Caswells.
During their first months in Yemen, Terri Caswell cried every day, she recalled. “I missed my life. I had my own car. I could go to Wal-Mart whenever I wanted to go?even at
Her unpleasant circumstances were compounded by the need to homeschool her children for the first time.
“For all of you mothers who love to homeschool, bless you. But I believe God made schools for mothers,” she quipped. “I had once told a friend of mine if God wanted me to homeschool he would have to hit me over the head to make me do it.” Instead, she said, “He sent me to Yemen and made me homeschool.”
One day while “whining, telling God how unfair it was,” God began to show her what it meant to be a living sacrifice. “He gave me a new way of looking at the service I was doing. If it took me all day to do school I wouldn’t fret.”
Gradually, she developed friendships and discovered creative ways to minister to those who needed to know God. When the news came that the hospital would be chan