Example: [Collected via e-mail, 1999]
Origins: The thought of a God-fearing selfless missionary unjustly about to be put to death by heathen savages is enough to fire up most anyone's urges to help in any way, as our burgeoning inbox attests. The "urgent prayer request" in the name of Mike Hutchinson, a Southern Baptist missionary serving in West Africa, has continued to jump from one inbox to another even though he is now in the United
On 20 April 1999 on a road near Fatik, Senegal, a teenage boy stepped in front of the Hutchinsons' vehicle without looking and was struck by their car. The boy died while the Hutchinsons were trying to transport him to a nearby hospital. The Hutchinsons then drove to the police station where Mike Hutchinson turned himself in.
Hutchinson was briefly detained and his passport and driver's license were taken, but he was quickly released, pending a hearing. He and his wife Lynn continued to carry out their ministry while awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter.
The rumor about Hutchinson has caused the International Mission Board (IMB) no end of grief. As far back as May 1999, the IMB erected a web page denying the dangers outlined in the (even then) much forwarded prayer request. As they wrote on that page:
The temporary travel restrictions placed upon Hutchinson by the Senegal government were removed in mid-July 1999. The Hutchinsons moved from Senegal into The Gambia shortly thereafter. They have since returned to the United States and now live in Mississippi.
According to the International Mission Board's files in 2000, Mike Hutchinson's then whereabouts placed him and his family Stateside.
No one knows who started the "urgent prayer request" or why, but in the manner of so many Internet doppelgangers, the plea for prayers continues to haunt the cyber community to this day. In common with many such missives which pluck straight at the heart-strings, its message is unquestioningly accepted as factual by a huge number of those who receive it. But as we've just seen, there was very little fact to this particular call to arms. The worst case scenario Hutchinson ever faced was deportation. His life was never in danger, and there was no angry mob out to hang him high.
Hutchinson's accident was far from the first vehicular fatality Baptist missionaries stationed in Africa have played a part in, and those other missionaries have also not been subjected to overly harsh justice.
Another missionary couple, Gene and Jean Phillips, serving in Lesotho, were involved in yet another traffic fatality. Gene Phillips had been charged with culpable homicide in the
Barbara "missionary imposition" Mikkelson
Last updated: 14 June 2010
Kelly, Mark. "False E-Mail Rumor Causing Undue Worry About Missionary." Baptist Press. 26 May 1999. Kelly, Mark. "Missionary Charged with Homicide Free to Leave." Baptist Press. 22 June 1999. Kelly, Mark. "Zimbabwe Judge Dismisses Case Against Southern Baptist Worker." Baptist Press. 27 July 1999.