"...to Live is Christ and to die is gain"
By Roni (Veroni) Bowers
Roni was killed with her baby daughter in her arms when her missionary plane was falsely identified and shot down by a Peruvian plane on April 20, 2001.
"We thought you would all like to hear another part of the 'story' as told by the missionary wife who was recently killed by the Peruvian government last Friday."
Because of Calvary, Bill & Marianne,
Why does it seem God answers some prayers and not others? How many times have you sat in church listening to all the praises and prayers being answered and you have wondered, "When is it my turn?" You are not trying to be angry, but you are, slightly, and you question God. "Where are you?" "Do you hear me?" "What have I done?" "What sin is unconfessed?"
"Am I still being punished for some past sin?" So what happens when God doesn't answer your prayers? My prayer is that this story will help someone. If only one person would be helped, then it was worth the time, effort, and yes, even the pain I have known. There are many people who could write a very similar account, but opening the heart can be so painful.
I was reared in a military family. My father was in the Air Force for twenty years, so we moved a lot. I don't regret the lifestyle or the constant changes that my two brothers and I had to endure. I never had trouble making friends, though I never had a "bosom buddy" or a "kindred spirit" until my later years. Family, I came to realize, was and is very important. God's timing is always perfect. My parents were good, moral people but they knew something was missing in their lives. The week we moved into our home, following my dad's retirement, a pastor came to welcome us to the community. He invited us to church and, surprisingly, we all went the following Sunday. For the first time, we heard that Jesus Christ gave His life as a living sacrifice so that people could be forgiven, and could spend eternity with a righteous God. I vividly remember the night, several weeks later, that my dad got on his knees and asked Jesus Christ to be his Savior. I was twelve years old when I saw my need for a Savior. Our home was always open, especially for single GI's.
My dad felt they needed a place to go for a good meal. My mom always did a great job of that, especially on Sundays. Not only did we have military personnel in our home, but also pastors, evangelists, and missionaries.
What a wonderful opportunity it was to sit at the table with godly men and women and to be influenced by their lives. God sparked an interest in my heart for missions very early. At the age of thirteen, I knew I wanted to be a missionary. My parents allowed me to graduate from high school a year early so I could attend a Bible college. Looking back, it seems like I was very young to graduate at sixteen years of age and start college at seventeen, but God was in it all.
While attending Piedmont Bible College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I attended chapel programs and heard some wonderful speakers. Very early in my freshman year, a missionary challenged us to make a commitment in our dating lives. That day I made a vow to God that I would not date anyone unless he, too, wanted to be a missionary.
Finally, a young man named Jim Bowers asked me to go roller skating. He was raised in Brazil by godly missionary parents and was planning to be a missionary. Over the course of time we became true friends. After about three years, college money ran out for Jim, so he decided to join the Army in order to take advantage of the GI bill. We took a break from college and on November 23, 1985, I became Mrs. James A. Bowers.
In January of 1987, the Army moved us to Mainz, Germany. We grew spiritually by leaps and bounds under the ministry of a missionary to the military. What a wonderful experience it was. After about two years, we began thinking about having a family. Months and months passed, which became year after year. We didn't give it much consideration since we both had to finish college and we thought it might be the Lord's will for us to wait.
We reentered college in the Fall of 1990. As a married couple we both had to work full time, as well as go to school. It was a very slow process but we were determined to finish. Seeing a specialist regarding child bearing was out of the question. Our last year of college was very difficult. My father-in-law died of cancer. It was a difficult time for all of us. I had never known what it meant to lose someone. I didn't know what it meant to grieve or to know how to comfort someone who was grieving. Little did I know what was in store for me down the road.
In May of 1993 we graduated. Finally! What joy and relief we felt the day we walked together to receive our diplomas. That same summer we attended ABWE's Candidate Seminar and were appointed to Iquitos, Peru as missionaries. After many years of waiting, our dreams were finally coming true. Now we only lacked children in the home with whom to share those dreams.
We moved to Muskegon, Michigan and Calvary Church became our sending church. We were second generation missionaries at Calvary Church, because this church was Jim's parents' sending church in 1963. Our friends truly became our family. There were also several wonderful doctors, one who specialized in infertility. After many tests, we were finally told that we needed to think about adoption if we wanted children. There was no way we could have our own. It took some time to get used to the idea, to even come to the realization we would never have our own. We started the adoption papers in April of 1994 and were told it would be two to five years before we could adopt.
In the summer of that same year, Jim and I went to Peru to finalize all our plans to move there and become river houseboat missionaries. We were building our own boat and had plans to travel the Amazon River to reach many for Christ and to train national leaders to do the work of ministry.
We were quite surprised that November (1994) when we received a phone call stating that a baby boy had been born and the birth parents had chosen us to be the parents. We needed a name to put on the birth certificate in less than twenty-four hours. That's it! So with no warning and no planning ahead, we had a son. In March of 1995 we were off to the foreign field as a family. We spent nine months in Costa Rica studying the Spanish language and living with a Costa Rican family. The day we left for Peru was such a joyous day for us.
In March of 1997, with the help of three American construction crews, we began the construction of our houseboat, using parts shipped from the United States. By the end of October, we were finally on board. In July of 1997, in the midst of construction, I began feeling so tired and the work was getting to me. With the encouragement of a friend, I did something I had wanted to do for years; I bought a home pregnancy test. I took it the next morning and it came back positive. The emotion that came over me was enormous. I ran into the bedroom to tell Jim. He encouraged me to not get my hopes up until blood work was done. We went to the hospital and the blood test was positive. We were elated. I flew back, with my son, to the United States to see a doctor. No chances were being taken.
After many tests, everything appeared to be normal and I returned to Peru three weeks later with all kinds of maternity clothes. The following Friday, I was encouraged to lie down by one of the coworkers. No sooner had I laid down than my water broke. I was only ten weeks into the pregnancy. Praise the Lord, one of the people in the group helping us with the construction was a lady and she knew what to do. After about five hours of labor in the hospital, I lost our baby. Despair is the only word to describe how I felt. I knew that I had to cling to God. He reminded me of Psalm 23 and I trusted Him to "restore my soul."
I couldn't understand all the emotions, the deep depression I was feeling. What kind of a Christian was I? After months of struggles, I realized I was putting the baby I wanted before my relationship with God. I finally realized what I was doing and begged God to forgive me. More than anything, I wanted my relationship with Him back . God has not taken away the desire for a baby, but He has helped me put my priorities in order.
Now I choose to trust God fully. He is in control; He knows what is best. He doesn't owe me anything, rather I owe Him everything. When we as believers get to heaven, we won't have to ask, "why?" It will be worth it all.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Where is your heart? Where are your treasures?
Jim & Roni Bowers adopted Charity, their second child, in December 2000. (She was killed while in her mother's arms. WP)
Sent by Pastor William Plenge
Memorial Service for Roni Bowers: Celebrating the exceptional Life of the young missionary who was recently shot inside a missionary plane with her infant daughter in her arms. For a special blessing, read the statement by Elisabeth Elliot Gren, the poem by Martha Snell Nicholson, the words to the song by Steve Green, and Roni 's own testimony. Michael Loftis (ABWE President) said,
“Many people live and die without ever knowing the true purpose of their lives. Roni finished her course with joy. She placed an exclamation point on the purpose of her life, which was to bring other people the good news of what it means to personally know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
“Missionaries are human. They’re weak. They suffer pain and loss. They grieve. They bleed. But out of this suffering, out of this difficulty, God brings a beautiful message of hope to lost and broken souls all over the world.”
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