Listen to Carrie's testimony
'Keep going to the hard places,' Iraq shooting survivor says6/22/2004By Erin Curry INDIANAPOLIS (BP) -- Just three months after losing her husband and being seriously injured in Iraq, Carrie McDonnall is telling people who feel called to a dangerous task for the kingdom that they'd "better go." "We have to keep going to the hard places. We have to keep going to the violent places," McDonnall told Baptist Press June 16 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis. "God's call was not just to go to the places that were easy." McDonnall was the lone survivor from a March 15 drive-by shooting in which her husband, David, and three fellow International Mission Board workers, Larry and Jean Elliott and Karen Watson, were killed while traveling in northern Iraq. McDonnall said she hopes people don't look at her and decide not to go to places like Iraq. "I hope this fires people up, not that they say, 'I can't go. Look at her, look at the tragedy in her life,' but rather say, 'Look how God has overcome this,'" she said. "He should be glorified, and He will be glorified into the uttermost parts of the world, and the church needs to rise up and go." GOD IS FAITHFUL Though she had a close walk with God long before the March 15 incident, McDonnall said she certainly has struggled with why God would allow such a tragedy to happen. But she has found God to be faithful, full of grace and mercy. "That has not changed one bit. From the time I woke up [from the coma], God has been very near. He was near when we were being attacked," she said. "I woke up and my world turned upside down, and I found out my husband didn't make it. "So therefore I'm dealing with my body being broken and my heart being broken, and His Word says that He is full of love and He is sovereign, and my heart's going, 'That doesn't sound right. That's not what I'm feeling,'" McDonnall said. "But I just continue to cling to the truth, even though there have been hours of going, 'Is that right?' and going, 'I know it's right, and I know that He is sovereign and He is full of love.'" God's hand has been evident in many ways, she said, but particularly in her remarkably fast physical healing. The bone in her left leg was shattered by a bullet, and a large gash of skin, bone, ligaments and muscle was blown out, she said. "The doctors, when they first saw it, were thinking they were going to have to basically restructure my leg so I could walk, and when I got to Dallas, they looked at it and were just going to let the wound heal correctly to see if that was needed," she recounted. It turned out the reconstruction wasn't necessary. Neither was the insertion of a rod in place of the bone. Also, the severity of her leg injury, the doctors predicted, would require about 10 months to heal. Instead, it has taken only about 10 weeks for her to go from an external fixator to a cast to a splint on her leg. And the splint, she said, should be off by the end of the summer. 'THAT'S GOD'S GRACE' "Again, that's God's grace. That's God's hand that has been upon me. I'm blown away that I'm here," she said through tears. "I was in that truck. I know what happened. His hand was upon me. He kept me alive.... "And I'm thankful so much for the prayers of the saints and everybody that has prayed and sacrificed their time to lift me up, and I know that is evident in my healing," McDonnall said. For those who want to continue praying, McDonnall said they may pray for God to give her guidance concerning what to do next. She said she had no blueprint for the way things have happened, so she doesn't know what's next. She also requested prayer for her family as they continue to grieve the loss of her husband, David. The two were married just one year and nine months at the time of the attack. The people of Iraq are still a great concern for McDonnall; the actions of a few, she said, did not taint her love for the nation as a whole. She and her husband answered God's call to Iraq to fulfill something as simple as the chance to help people in the need of clean water. "The Iraqi people are a great, spirited people. They were very kind and very loving. They need help," she said. "They have a situation over there where they need a leg up. The Iraqis that we came in contact with invited us into their homes and into their lives and were very gracious and glad that we were there to help them." FEARFUL HEARTS Many Iraqis are timid about embracing the freedom they have been given, she said. After living so many decades under brutal oppression, they still fear someone may be watching and waiting to harm them for exercising their freedom. "That's one of the things we had to deal with even from the affluent to those who were living in mud huts," she said. "It was just this sense of 'We want a hope, and we want to have this freedom, but we're not quite ready to trust you all.' "We can understand because the hope and freedom doesn't come in a stable government. It comes through Jesus. And this is something that's opening up over there, and hopefully we will be able to share that with them so they can know that hope and know that true freedom." And that's a point that leads back to the need for others to be bold in traveling to the hard places. Even when she and her husband were praying about following God to Iraq, McDonnall said ,there was a tremendous concern for their safety and several people told them not to go. "He very clearly through His Word and through prayer showed us that this is where we needed to be. ... We went, and we knew the risk, and we knew the cost, and we counted it, but we knew we had to follow what God was leading us to do," she said.