Wycliffe mourns the deaths of two well-loved and faithful workers.

By April 7, 2005

Guyana (MNN) — FBI authorities have been asked to assist Guyanese investigators in the autopsies of American missionaries Richard and Charlene Hicks killed last week in Guyana. The couple worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Wycliffe representatives are also closely involved with the investigations.

Rich, 42, and Charlene, 58, were found dead last Wednesday evening outside their burned home in an isolated part of southwest Guyana near the Brazil border. The Hicks’ home and everything in it was destroyed by the fire. The murders have upset the small, close-knit community where the Hicks were well-loved and respected.

Local police are searching for two men – one a Brazilian and the other a Guyanese who had been working at the ranch where the Hicks lived. Both disappeared soon after the bodies were discovered. The motive behind the killings has not been confirmed.

Bob Creson is the president of Wycliffe, USA. “In this day and age, we’re living in a time where missionary work is really not for the faint-hearted, probably never has been. But the areas where the remaining needs are, I believe we’re going to face more and more opposition. So you can be praying that missionaries will continue to have courage, that they would continue to be bold in sharing their faith and the good news of the Gospel message.”

A funeral service and burial, organized by the local church and friends, will be held Friday afternoon in Lethem near the farm where the Hicks lived and served. Lethem is in southwestern Guyana near the Brazilian border, a 12-hour bus ride from Georgetown, Guyana’s capital. It is expected that many Wapishanas and others from the community will attend. Memorial services honoring the lives of Rich and Charlene will be held in Minnesota and Canada.

The New Testament translation in the Wapishana language was within a few years of completion. Although the most current language data appears to have been lost in the fire, much of the backup translation materials are safe.

Creson says, that despite the great loss of Rich and Charlene, the work will carry on. “They’d been invited down there to do language development work. Of course, part of that is Bible translation as well. So that work will continue, and Lord-willing we’ll see a body of materials develop there, including the New Testament one day.”

This tragedy has hit Mission Network News close to home, as MNN staff member Faith Maguire is a relative of Richard Hicks. Maguire says, “It seems so senseless when missionaries are killed, but somehow God is able to use such a tragedy to further His Gospel work. My prayer is that more people will fill Rich and Char’s shoes and meet the Bible translation needs around the world.”

The grief is shared by many who knew the couple, says Creson, “It’s really been a tragedy and this tragedy has touched so many lives. I wasn’t aware that it had actually touched you guys (at Mission Network News) that closely, but of course across our family of organizations many people knew the Hicks and so it’s really having a huge impact. And our hearts go out to all those people who are being touched, the immediate family as well as the larger family.”

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