Clipped Wings

"Shot down in 2001, missionary Jim Bowers moves on"
2003This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

On April 20, 2001, a Peruvian Air Force jet shot down a seaplane belonging to the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, mistaking it for drug-running craft. In the Cessna were ABWE missionaries to river villages in Iquitos, Peru: pilot Kevin Donaldson and the Bowers family—Jim, his wife, Roni, 35, and their children Cory, 5, and 7-month-old Charity. Roni and Charity were killed, and bullets shattered Donaldson's legs. The shootdown was part of a CIA-sponsored drug interdiction program. Despite calls for more oversight, the program resumed in August with no substantial changes. Deann Alford interviewed Bowers, 40, for CT. (See www.jimbowers.org.)

The shootdown program that killed Charity and Roni has resumed. Are you satisfied that another such tragedy is unlikely?

I could easily have gone on a crusade to try to change the future of drug interdiction in Peru. God did not lead me to do that. Although we learned of many "embarrassing" issues in the wake of the shootdown, I've moved on to plenty of other things in my life.

Did the two governments ever apologize for killing Roni and Charity?

Various officials from both countries voiced their sincere regrets and condolences to my family. Unfortunately, none of those who expressed their heartfelt words of sympathy were directly responsible for what happened.

Do any ABWE planes still fly in Peru?

No. Kevin has been our only pilot, and that was our only aircraft [in Peru] … I don't think it'd be smart right now to fly in that region.

Did Peru fulfill its promise to replace the plane?

No, but that should happen soon. Where the replacement aircraft will be used by ABWE is still undetermined.


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