IMB missionaries in stable condition after attack in Tanzania

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)--Southern Baptist missionaries Carl and Kay Garvin are in stable condition after two robbers attacked them Feb. 23 in Tanzania.

The two Arkansas natives were airlifted to Nairobi, Kenya, where Carl, 60, underwent surgery for a broken arm and lacerations. He also will have surgery to repair ligament damage to his knee. Kay, 56, was shot in the chest. The bullet entered close to her heart, missing the aorta by half an inch. It went through the lung and nestled against the skin on her back. The surgeon will make an incision to remove the bullet.

“She’s a walking, talking miracle,” Carl said from his hospital bed. Despite being shot in the chest, Kay had no damage to her heart or lung.

“We are both living miracles,” Kay said, squeezing Carl’s hand. “God was with us throughout the entire ordeal.”

The nightmare began the night of Feb. 23 when two robbers entered their hotel room. The Garvins, first-term missionaries, were working with an Arkansas volunteer team in an area south of Moshi, Tanzania. The two intruders beat the hotel door down with a machete. Carl tried holding the door, but an arm swinging the machete crashed through and sliced into Carl’s forearm, breaking it and cutting it open. The second intruder entered the room and shot Kay in the chest.

A nurse for 30 years in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and the National Guard, Carl’s medical training took over. He immediately applied pressure to the chest wound and treated Kay, an action that medical consultants say probably saved her life. He also wrapped his arm and applied pressure to stop his own bleeding.

“We can see God’s hand in everything, from saving our lives to putting a driver there,” Kay said.

With no ambulances in this part of Tanzania, the Garvins’ car became the impromptu emergency vehicle. Carl said with his broken arm, there was no way he could drive. With no cell phone service in this area, Carl was unsure how they would be able to get medical attention until a Tanzanian man stepped forward and announced he would drive them the two hours to the nearest clinic.

The Arkansas volunteers rode in the car with the Garvins and immediately started ministering to the injured missionaries. One of the volunteers prayed continuously throughout the journey, the stop at the Moshi clinic and until the couple were put on a plane for further treatment. Another, who was a nurse, applied pressure to Kay’s chest wound and made her as comfortable as possible along the bumpy African roads. The third volunteer sang praise and worship songs for the entire journey.

Kay said God performed a miracle in their lives because so many people around the world interceded for them. Word went out on the International Mission Board prayer network, while their son, a pilot in the Air Force, got word out on the Air Force prayer network. The church where Carl was a pastor, First Baptist Church in Valley Springs, Ark., also joined the prayer efforts.

“God is in control of all things and He will get the glory from this,” Carl said. “Even though it was a frightening experience, God was still in that room with us. We were protected. I can’t wait to see how He is glorified and His Kingdom expanded from this.”

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