Orkney Bible translater killed in bus bomb attack
An Orkney woman serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators was one of the victims in a terrorist bomb attack at a Jerusalem bus stop. Mary Gardner was studying Hebrew in Israel was the only person to die in the explosion which left many others injured.
Mary Gardner, on of the most recent victims in a renewed surge of terrorism in Israel had previously served as part of a Wycliffe team in Togo that translated the New Testament into the Ife language.She had been studying Hebrew in Jerusalem with a view to returning to Togo to translate the Old Testament.
Miss Gardner, who had been a teacher in Stromness Academy died when a device went off at a bus stop near the central bus station in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The attack, which injured over 30 people, is believed to have been carried out by Palestinian militants.
Some accounts of those on the scene of the attack:
- “I heard a loud blast. I looked out the window and saw smoke rising up, and a yeshiva student running around with his legs on fire. People were trying to help him put out the fire." he said. "I saw people lying on the ground and then rescue forces started pouring in. They were at the scene within a few minutes, evacuating victims…it was all very scary."
- “I left the car and saw a boy running towards me with shrapnel wounds all over his body. He was injured in his arms and legs. He sat down on the ground and then laid down. An ultra-Orthodox woman who was there helped him, and then a guy came over with a tourniquet,"
- “It was chaos…I looked around and saw many victims and a lot of blood. Rescue forces were all over the area, searching, opening and closing doors. It takes us back to trying times," he said.
Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Eddie Arthur, described Miss Gardner as an “extremely popular and competent colleague”. “She was a very popular lady. She was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed. She was highly regarded as a translator and a linguist. People who spend more than ten years in an African village and devote their lives like that are hard to come by.”
Miss Gardner, whose parents live in Aberdeenshire had been staying and studying at the Homes for Bible Translators near Mevaseret Zion, close to Jerusalem, where she had been living with other students in a log cabin.
Miriam Ronning, a Finn who founded the centre with her husband in 1994, said the dead woman was quiet but popular among fellow students and dedicated to her task of translating the Bible for tribesmen in Togo.
"She was a very deep person, very motivated to study, very industrious," Mrs Ronning said. "You would often see her in the library. She was very much appreciated. Gentle, introverted and very kind, it is a real loss for the project in Togo and to our student body."
In a statement last night, Miss Gardner's parents, Jean, 81, and Tony, 82, said they were “devastated by the sudden loss of their daughter in this tragic and unexpected way”.
Mr Gardner said: “Mary was a very special person and we thought the world of her. She was devoted to her work and was well liked wherever she went. Her loss in this way has been deeply upsetting for us all. “We are proud of her and all that she has achieved in her life and feel truly blessed to have had her in our lives.” She is also survived by her sister Alison, 51, and brothers Andrew, 54, David, 49, and Tom, 43.
James Stockan, vice-convener of Orkney Islands Council, told of the community’s sadness at her death. He said: “Mary was a teacher in Orkney around 20 years ago and was well known to myself and my family. She was a brave, tenacious lady whose incredible achievements in translating and teaching the Bible and putting the local dialect into print for the people of Togo were immense.”
The attack has been condemned “in the strongest terms” by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who called it a “shocking and despicable act of terrorism”.
Escalation of attacks on Israel
The day after the bus stop attack and in what seems to be a renewed surge of terror incidents, a convoy numbering dozens of cars headed out on from Itamar,was hit by rockets fired by from Gaza.
One Jewish Messianic leader has written in his prayer update:
"It is hard to know exactly why the Hamas is escalating the war just now. Is it because Iran is interested in bringing the seething situation in the Middle East to a full boil? Is it because the axis of evil wants to divert the world’s attention from the massacre of demonstrators by the Syrian forces? Is it because the Palestinians want to block the west’s pressure to negotiate with Israel? Perhaps it doesn’t matter why; evil and hatred do not need a reason."
Last week five members of one family were brutally slaughtered as they slept. In the past week, Hamas has escalated its war with Israel by firing 63 mortar shells and four rockets from Gaza Strip into Southern Israel. Some of the rockets were fired on Be’er Sheba, forty km from Gaza. Some of the rockets contained phosphorous.
Last December two Christian workers were victims of a fatal knife attack. Kristine Luken who died from her injuries worked and Kay Wilson who survived the attack was a leading tour guide with Shoresh Tours in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Christians Together member GT who is working in Israel reported at the time: "These two ladies were part of the CMJ team, Kaye from Israel and Kristine (an American) from the UK. Kristine was visiting as part of the International Board meeting to discuss matters concerning the work in Israel."
Christians Together, 26/03/2011