Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or persecution? Or the sword? (As it is written: For your sake, we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) But in all these things we overcome, because of him that has loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:35-39
Last Friday, a yacht with four Americans was hijacked by pirates south of Oman. Since then, American warships have been tailing the pirated yacht back to the pirates’ base in Somalia. From CBS News today, comes this sad ending to the Somali pirate hostage situation:
A pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy destroyer shadowing a hijacked yacht with four Americans aboard Tuesday. Then gunfire erupted, the military said. U.S. special forces rushed to the yacht only to find the four Americans fatally wounded.
The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.
Like a good number of people, I have been wondering what on earth made these four Americans sail in such dangerous waters. Now we know: they were acting as missionaries in the twilight of their years, bringing the good news to people who need to hear it. Their yacht was stocked with bibles which they took to many third world locations. From the Santa Monica newspaper, where their home parish is located, comes this story of how their faith community is grieving, and also telling us a bit more about these unconventional missionaries. I am posting the entire article with the paper’s updates.
They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson tells Santa Monica Patch.
(Updated at 1:37 p.m.): On Tuesday afternoon, Torgerson shared with Santa Monica Patch his thoughts about Jean and Scott Adam.
“They’re an extraordinary couple, a wonderful part of our community,” the pastor said. “Jean had been my dentist, so I got to know her that way.”
The couple was highly active in the church, and two sons of Jean attended St. Monica Catholic High School.
They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Torgerson said.
The pastor said that, after working hard all their lives, Jean and Scott decided to “make a difference” in their retirement.
“Retirement for them was relaxed, but they went to the far-flung corners of this world and visited the poorest of the poor,” bringing Scripture to them, he said.
He added that the Scripture that was read during Mass on Tuesday morning says, “if you’re faithful, you’ll win the crown”—and, according to Torgerson, “that’s what they did.”
“They died doing what they wanted to do,” he said.
(Updated at 12:29 p.m.): The Rev. David Guffey, a priest who is in residence at the church, reflected on Jean and Scott Adam at the 12:10 p.m. Mass on Tuesday.
He told the congregation, which had gathered for the regular daily service, that “we do so today with special feelings of sadness and sympathy.”
He said the news was “tragic,” and that Torgerson is “working with” the grieving family of Jean and Scott Adam.
A funeral and a memorial service are pending, Guffey said.
Guffey noted that, last weekend, parishioners had lit a candle in the hope that the couple would return home safely.
“We pray for their eternal rest, and for their family and friends,” he said.
Torgerson said Tuesday that Jean and Scott were “faithful people” and that Jean sang in the church choir, according to City News Service.
“They were people that worked hard all their lives and decided in their retirement that they wanted to do something to make a difference in this world,” he said.
Family and friends of Jean and Scott Adam are mourning the deaths of the St. Monica Catholic Church parshioners, who were killed by Somali pirates early Tuesday. At the church’s morning Mass, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said the parish was heartbroken at the news, according to The Associated Press.
The couple had been on a voyage around the world, distributing Bibles.
The Bibles, which numbered in the thousands, had been donated to Jean and Scott Adam through grants and gifts. They referred to their effort to distribute them as “friendship evangelism.”
A “wonderful turn of events have occurred as a result of this endeavor,” the couple wrote on their Web site, SVQuest.com.
“They loved the experiences they were having with the people they were meeting and the places they were going,” Scott Stolnitz, a longtime friend of theirs, told CNN. “We asked them once if they ever looked forward to living on land again, and they both, believe it or not, said no.
“They were not proselytizing evangelicals,” he continued. “They were using their Bible mission as a way to break the ice in the Christian community, particularly in the Pacific.”
“This is all of our worst nightmares,” Stolnitz told the Los Angeles Times.
Stolnitz said the 70-year-old Scott Adam was laid-back, had a dry sense of humor and earned a theology degree later in life, after retiring as a film executive. Jean Adam was a retired dentist, according to CNN.
“She wore her heart on her sleeve,” Stolnitz said.
He added that, even though Jean Adam often got seasick on boats, she wanted to be with her husband and decided to sail with him.
“The Quest started an ‘around-the-world’ trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002,” the couple wrote on their site. “This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage.”
The couple was aware of the dangers of piracy, friends told the Los Angeles Times. They said Scott had considered shipping the boat instead, but later decided not to after learning that a rally of yachts was headed to the Arabian and Red Seas.
Ten days ago, Jean and Scott said via e-mail that, in an effort to avoid being located by pirates, they would be out of communication for almost two weeks, according to BBC News.
“They basically had said, ‘We’re not going to be in communication for 10 or 12 days because we know this is territory where there could be problems and we don’t want pirates or other people to know our location,’ ” said Robert Johnston, a professor who taught Scott at the seminary he attended.
According to St. Monica’s Annual Reports, Jean and Scott Adam donated money to the Partners in Mission effort benefiting St. Monica Catholic High School. They donated to the effort’s campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
I do not understand what happened, why the pirates would kill these hostages with the US Navy right behind them. But I believe that the Adams and their passengers died because they were following a call to witness for our faith, as part of the new evangelization. And because of their followership, they put themselves into a dangerous position leading to their deaths. This makes them martyrs for the faith, though maybe not technical martyrs, I don’t know how that is defined by the Church.
But I will pray for the eternal rest of their souls, for mercy for everyone involved, and comfort for their family and friends. I thank God for their lives and example.
As it is written–
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.