Baptist missionary among at least 21 dead in Philippine airport attack
Southern Baptist missionary William P. Hyde, who has been a missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board for 24 years, was at the airport in Davao, on the troubled Philippine island of Mindanao, to pick up another missionary family when a bomb exploded.

Hyde and at least 20 others were killed in the blast; some of the missionary family—Barbara Stevens and her 10-month-old son, Nathan—were among the 170 wounded.

"I just heard it explode to my side," Stevens told the Associated Press. "I was carrying my infant son, so I grabbed my daughter and picked her up and ran away. I was afraid there could be more bombs."

"Our hearts go out to these families and their coworkers," said International Mission Board spokesman Larry Cox. "We are moving quickly to assist the missionaries affected by this tragedy. We ask Christians everywhere to pray that God would show himself strong for these families, their coworkers and the other members of the Southern Baptist missionary family."

Though the Philippine military initially blamed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the bomb, which was reportedly hidden in a backpack, the group denied it. The Abu Sayyaf has since claimed responsibility for the attack. That's the Muslim terrorist group that held American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham hostage for more than a year. Another Associated Press story reports that Hyde and his family were close friends with the Burnhams.

"They really knew it was not safe," said Hyde's sister, Barbara Brooker. "We've always been afraid of the danger. My mother always worried that we would get a call some day."

"They were aware of the risks, but their purpose for being there—to share the love of Jesus Christ—was far more important," Ross Robinson, associate pastor of evangelism and missions at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, where Hyde and his family were members, told the Plano Star Courier. "Their purpose brought them great joy. They loved being there, they loved the people. And their lives, the life of Bill and Lyn, reflected it."

"I remember both Bill and [his son] Steve as being alike: big physically, with big smiles and big hearts and just always looking for a way to help somebody else," Dan Crawford, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor of evangelism and missions, tells the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. "I wasn't surprised when I learned that it was Bill Hyde who went to the airport to pick up this missionary family. It was the kind of thing that he would have volunteered to do."

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Baptist Press has several reaction stories, and will surely post more today. Associated Baptist Press also has a report.

Making ashes: not as easy as you think
Tradition holds that the ashes on Ash Wednesday are from the burned palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday. But burning the palm fronds isn't as easy as it sounds, reports the Detroit Free Press.

"The first time the Rev. David Eardley tried to make ashes a few years ago, he fired up a hibachi stoked with dried palm leaves inside a United Methodist church. … He nearly smoked out his congregation," writes David Crumm.

"It was a mess—really smelly," Eardley recalls. "I didn't even like the consistency of the ashes I got. And the church had that smoke smell for days."

The lesson: don't do it inside. Eardley now gets ashes from a parishioner who runs a crematory. And he's had trouble too. "The ash is so dry that, the first time I did it, I opened a door and—boom!  the ashes shot out like a cloud," he said.

Many churches are forgoing the burning altogether and are simply buying their ashes from church supply companies. But even that can be a messy business. Crumm notes this advice from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's website: "Like sin, ashes are very dirty and go a long way."

More articles

Ash Wednesday and Lent:

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  • Fasts for health, spirit | There are valuable health benefits, as well as spiritual ones, to be gained from fasting (The Washington Times)


War with Iraq:

Military life:

  • Chaplain prepares to serve spiritual needs of troops | Part of his unit is in Mideast already. (The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  • Group seeks cash to help soldiers' kin | Operation Home Fires, a project of the Christian Service Center, on Tuesday called on area churches to help support military families who are sometimes unprepared to face the difficulties of going from two incomes to one when a spouse is called to active duty (The Orlando Sentinel)
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Bush's faith:

Representatives walk out on Muslim prayer:

Politics and law:

  • Aceh's Sharia court opens | It will apply to property and family law, and some cases of criminal law, but the exact overlap with the existing district courts was still unknown (BBC)

  • Also: First Sharia court for Aceh | The mainly Muslim province was involved in civil conflict with Jakarta (BBC)

  • Two Amish men resort to rare activism | They organized a petition drive to change a zoning ordinance so each could keep a horse on his property (Associated Press)

  • Hispanics to wield clout at union rally | But some evangelical insiders wonder if pastors' involvement is merely a political move by the union in order to muster public support and exploit economic rage (New Haven Register)

Texas newspaper investigates televangelist's funds:

  • Profit in the pulpit | A Denton televangelist who says his mission is to rescue people from poverty is living lavishly, while the ministry he founded spends most of its money on overhead, an examination finds (The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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Zimbabwe police arrest clergy:

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