August 15, 2022

Availability more important than ability

By Curt Swarm

From inside their home in Bogota, Columbia, Becky Hood heard the gunshot outside in the street. Although there had been occasional bombings, and she had known of at least one kidnapping of a fellow missionary by the Colombian Cartel, gunshots in the neighborhood were not common. A sixth sense told her this gunshot was personal. Panic gripped her. Her daughter was in school, and her son was in college in the States. But her missionary husband, Charley, had gone to the bank and was due back.

She rushed for the door to the house, then had to go through two outside gates. Her husband’s truck was in the street. Charley was slumped over in the front seat. She rushed up, but he was gone from a bullet wound through the chest.

Neighbors gathered. She didn’t know any of them except for one, because the Hoods had just moved to this house. It didn’t stop Becky — she feels God was directing her. She asked one of the neighbors in Spanish if he would drive the truck to the hospital. Becky asked another neighbor if she would get in the back seat and help hold her husband. The neighbors agreed.

Someone must have called the police because they were arriving on motorcycles. After a brief discussion, they gave Becky a police escort to the hospital. Her husband was pronounced dead, and all the items on him were removed so they wouldn’t be stolen.

Becky was numb. She wanted to tell someone, like their other missionary associates. There were no cell phones in Bogota (1998) and being a Third World Country, of course, the phone lines were dead. A Spanish woman appeared out of nowhere and began praying with and for Becky and her deceased husband.

Becky was finally able to get through on the phones to her close missionary friends. They came to her aid. Becky turned to thank the lady who had prayed with her, but she was gone. Becky feels the lady was like a guardian angel.

Becky and Charley met at Southwest Baptist College (now University) in Bolivar, Mo. Charley was the oldest of five boys and a determined young man. He insisted that his name be spelled “Charley.” From an early age, he felt called to the ministry and mission work. Becky, who was the second oldest of seven children, and from a family whose father was a Baptist Minister, was quite taken by Charley. They married, and Charley, working 58 hours a week at Ford Motor Company, went to seminary.

They pastored a couple of churches, then it was time to move into the mission field. Becky didn’t know if she felt adequate enough to be a missionary, but she remembered at the age of 16, a very young summer missionary said, “God is more interested in our availability than our ability.” She knew God would guide her.

They went to missionary school and language school and chose Bogota, Colombia, because of its climate, nearly 9,000 foot elevation, and beauty. They were warned about possible insecurities, but it was typical of just about any of the mission choices.

They spent 10 good years in Bogota and started up several churches, and learned to love the Colombian people. The police never solved or put much effort into investigating Charley’s murder. The money from the bank that he had in his pants’ pocket was still there. A person on a motorcycle had been seen driving up to Charley’s truck and conversing with Charley, but neighbors were hesitant to testify. Becky will never know why but thinks it may have been a general dislike for Americans.

Becky’s hardest job was telling her daughter, Dawn, who was a junior in high school, that her dad had been killed. She was Daddy’s little girl. But like a trooper, Dawn went ahead with a singing part in a play she had coming up. She wanted to sing for her father. Becky is thankful for the kind people who informed her son, Aaron, of his father’s death.

Becky and family moved back to the states and the mission board kept her on salary for one year. They chose Liberty, Mo., as their home, and Becky earned her English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification and Masters Degree. She began teaching ESL to elementary students.

At church she met a gentleman in the choir. He is a beautiful pianist, and occasionally he would accompany Becky on her flute. They married in 2000. Becky and Ron have been married 22 years. She has lived in Liberty, Missouri longer than anywhere else.

Becky has never forgotten that when facing a new challenge or tough time, availability is more important than ability. God leads her.

Author’s note: Becky is my wife, Ginnie’s, sister. Ginnie relates that at the funeral for Charley, the speaker said, “God didn’t take Charley, Charley was already His.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com