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CBN.com They stumbled through the doors of an Iraqi hospital. Blood flowed from their wounds. Every second was critical.
Just minutes before, automatic gunfire had pierced the steel and glass of a white SUV. The five people inside were defenseless against the deadly barrage. But this was not just another random attack on the streets of Mosul, Iraq on March 15, 2004.
Months earlier and half a world away, newlyweds David and Carrie McDonnall were living in Texas. But that's not where their hearts were.
“We were in seminary, and we knew that seminary was just kind of a stopping off point. We were very restless at that point,” Carrie says. “Both of us wanted to be back into the Arab world. We missed everything from the food to the smells to the people. It was like we were homesick.”
David's and Carrie's hearts were tied to the Middle East. Their courtship began in Israel's West Bank while they were both doing humanitarian work in the region. When they fell in love something more than "chemistry and romance " drew them together.
“There was a huge sense that-that God had both of us together,” she says. “Here was a man that loved the Arab people and wanted to spend his life serving and sharing the gospel among Arab muslims.
“Our love for one another was built on a strong friendship. He was my best friend, and I was his way before we ever said, ‘I do.’ He was everything I ever dreamed of.”
When David's mission's organization sent him to Iraq, he was excited. He'd faced simiiar challenges doing relief work in war-torn sudan.
“My husband would often say, ‘How can I love such an unlovable place?’ And he knew that it was from the Lord giving him that love.
“We were not naïve about the type of situation Iraq was in. We knew that it was a war zone. There was definitely times that we spent on our faces before the Lord and just trying to take His peace.”
David and Carrie's love for Arab muslims outweighed all the risks of moving to Iraq. But were they risking too much?
“All the Iraqis that we met were very open and hospitable,” she says. “They said, ‘We’re going to help you as much as we can because we know that you’re here to help our people.’
“On March 15, we were working around Mosul doing some surveying of different camps. We spent the day in homes. They were very welcoming to us, but they’re also very clear that they had a need. They were basically like, ‘We need water.’
“We were driving back through mosul. Right about that same time I thought I felt like sand or glass hitting my face.
“I heard the machine guns, and I knew immediately what was happening. I blacked out briefly. I came back hearing David telling everybody to get down.
“That gunfire sound was just bullets and shrapnel. It was thick. and it was just pouring into the vehicle. I began yelling for help in arabic, and nobody really stirred.
“About that time, David sat up and asked me, ‘Babe, are you hit?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’m hit bad. We gotta get to the hospital quick. Are you hit?’ He said no, and he jumped out of the truck and started hollering for the men to come over. They immediately responded and helped us get to safety and get to a hospital.”
International news services quickly descended on the scene to report on the carnage. Missionaries Larry and Jean Elliot and Karen Watson were killed instantly in the hailstorm of fire. Although David fainted twice, he was miraclously able to get Carrie to an Iraqi hospital. David had indeed been hit in the chest by gunfire.
“I just kept hearing David talking to the soldiers everything,” she says. “I was pretty confident that he was going to be okay ‘cause his voice just sounded so strong.
“My last thought before they took me into surgery was: Is my husband going to make it? I wouldn’t let them take me back to surgery unless they gave me an answer. They said, ‘He’s going to be fine. He’ll be fine.’
When Carrie woke up, she found herself in Dallas, Texas….
“My sister was bby my bedside, and I asked her, ‘Mom and Dad are not telling me. You tell me where’s David?’ She got Mom and Dad, they came to my bedside, and my father told me that David didn’t make it.
I couldn’t believe it at first because he was so strong. When I left him, I’d been assured that he’d be okay.
“The room literally spun around me. I was just broken. My body was broken, and then my heart was broken.”
David died being transported to a Bahgdad hospital. He entered eternity in the region he loved, serving the people he was willing to give his life for. His last act on earth was to get his wife of 20 months to safety. The scriptures say, “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend.” David McDonnall and his colleagues Larry and Jean Elliott and Karen Watson were the kind of people who lived that truth.
Carrie is still recovering from her injuries and grieves David’s loss daily. With everything she’s endured, you may wonder how she feels about the people that killed her husband.
“I can guarantee you that if I didn’t know Jesus that I probably would hate,” she says. “But we’re called to forgive. I’ve had to pray through it and pray for their families that they would know the love of Christ.
“When I see the violence of the Middle East, I hurt in two ways. I know faces that live there among that violence. I know that they don’t want the violence. They want peace. I hurt in another way because I know that only true peace is going to come with the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
Carrie’s plans for the future are uncertain. She is still willing to go back to the Middle East if God calls her there. Her love for the muslim people is so great.
“I’ve loved muslim people. I know they’re not all terrorists. They’re not all full of hate,” she says. “My life is different on every level yet there is a hope that I know. I’ll always grieve. That pain will probably always be there, but at the same time I know that Christ is good. He is faithful, and I will be able to carry on. I will keep living this life and live it hard.”
He has overcome life and he’s overcome death. And that there’s nothing to fear.
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