Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jan 2002
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2002 Chattanooga Publishing Co.
Author: Clint Cooper


The American missionary whose wife and daughter were killed in late
April when a Peruvian air force fighter mistakenly opened fire on
their plane is concerned about the fighter pilots who shot them.

"There is nothing for me to forgive," said Jim Bowers, who survived
the incident along with his son and the plane's pilot. "They were just
doing their job. They had no right to deny their orders."

Now a missionary for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism
in Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Bowers will be sharing his story Wednesday at
7:15 p.m. during the 53rd annual Missionary Conference at Highland
Park Baptist Church. He will speak to students at Tennessee Temple
University on Thursday.

However, he said he would be "fighting God's will" to try to assess

"Lots of people are surprised," he said, "thinking that the pilots who
pulled the trigger committed a crime, because they assume that's what
happened. Like Russians, they're trained not to question for a second
what they're told to do. I feel terrible for (the pilots), though,
because apparently they're going to be put in jail."

"There is no doubt in anyone's mind that it was gross negligence," he
said. "Since the first days, though, we have had peace in our hearts.
No one hated Roni (his wife) or Charity (his daughter). It was a
complete accident."

Scott McCurdy, associate pastor at Highland Park Baptist, said the
conference can both uplift Mr. Bowers and be uplifting to those who
hear him.

"We want to be an encouragement to him, to let him know there is a
vast family of God out there that loves him, that he is doing God's
work," Mr. McCurdy said. "He can share how God has been sufficient,
and that what Satan meant for evil, God can use for good. God does
that in all of our lives. His is a highlighted incident."

E.C. Haskell, executive administrator of mission relations for the
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, said Mr. Bowers has been
an inspiration.

Mr. Haskell said the incident, instead of dampening interest in
missionary work, has fueled an interest in the field, especially in

"Of the people in our candidates class," he said, "three people were
there just as a result of what happened."

Mr. Bowers, who started a Bible training center and was in the process
of trying to organize Baptist churches in Peru before the incident
last April, is now trying to begin a church for Hispanics in Raleigh.
He and his 7-year-old son live with his widowed mother there.

He also plans to make trips to Peru to assist his successors, check on
the progress of his earlier work and help get a new sports complex
built in Iquitos, Peru. The city where he and his family were
headquartered, located in the midst of jungle territory, has no road
access, he said.

The sports complex, he said, was a dream of his wife's and was one of
the last things she was involved in before she was killed. When built,
he said, the center will provide a place for 100,000 young people to
play and hear Christian outreach. It also will be a meeting place for
churches, he said.

To build the complex, which will be erected as a memorial to his wife
and daughter, Mr. Bowers hopes to raise $250,000 within the next
month. Money already sent as memorials for his wife and daughter has
been designated for the center, he said. Anyone wishing to contribute
may visit

"If God Should Choose," a book about the Bowers family written by an
association staff member, will be published by Moody Press in March.
E-mail Clint Cooper at  ---
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