The family of the American yachting couple killed by Somali pirates has requested donations in the name of Scott and Jean Adam be made to the Southern California church where they were longtime parishioners.
Funeral arrangements were pending at St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, but the church’s website says the family has requested contributions to its music program. Jean Adam sang in the choir and the couple distributed Bibles as they sailed around the world.
The Adams and two American sailing companions, Phyllis Macay, 59, and Bob Riggle, 67, both of Seattle, were shot to death early Tuesday after their yacht was overtaken by pirates near Oman.
The FBI released a statement from Adams’ family members, identified only as the Sem family of Escondido, Calif., saying their hearts were broken and they were grieving in private.
Dr. Lamar Vest, president and chief executive officer of the American Bible Society, said Thursday a local connection with the Adam couple began in 2002 when the couple ordered $1,434.77 from Bibles.com.
He wrote in a letter to employees that he imagined the request was processed as just one more bulk order among the hundreds of thousands of Bibles and portions sold each year. The address for that particular shipment was Venice, Calif., but that was not their final destination.
Within months, the Bibles and thematic portions were loaded aboard the 58-foot sailing sloop, Quest, bound for distribution around the globe.
While the local connection with the Adams is distant, it is not the first time Bradley County was linked to international kidnappings and murder.
Royce Parfait, of Charleston, was one of six Americans kidnapped Aug. 14, 2006, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by a group identified as the Nigerian Delta Militants. That incident had a happy ending after the commercial captain was released unharmed after being held 10 days in a Nigerian jungle.
At the time, Parfait described his captors as “... a bunch of young radicals who have political problems and money issues. They are not targeting Americans in any kind of way. They are targeting the white people. It doesn’t make a difference who you are. If you’re white, you’re money to them. It’s kind of a sad situation.”
On June 23, 2009, humanitarian aid worker Chris Leggett was fatally shot in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. A North African al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility, saying 39-year-old Leggett was killed for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
None of the three incidents are related, except in their connections to Bradley County.
Dr. Vest of Cleveland said Thursday, the American Bible Society provides Bibles all over the world not knowing exactly how they are being distributed or the consequences that will be paid.
“In the past few years, we have had several people who have lost their lives simply because they have chosen to share the Bible with people,” he said. “This just reminds us of the danger some are in simply by sharing the word of God.”
Jean Adam kept the world updated through an online journal. She wrote the Quest started an “around-the-world trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002. This is planned to be an eight or 10-year voyage.”
Scott was a retired filmmaker. Jean was a retired dentist. At a time in life when most of their friends made plans for retirement, Scott and Jean made plans for far-flung kingdom impact. Supported by their local Catholic parish and numerous partners, they prayed for where God and a steady breeze would send them as they set sail to share the hope of God’s Word.
The winds of prayer carried them to New Zealand, Mexico, El Salvador, Philippines, China, Malaysia and Thailand. At each location, they looked for ways to resource local churches and individuals – anyone hungry for God’s Word.
“Wherever they went sailing around the world, they took Bibles with them in different languages,” Dr. Vest said. “Unfortunately, they and their two friends lost their lives last week.”
Their work continued until their most recent trip from Mumbai, India; and a course charted for Oman. Though they had been purposefully sailing in the company of a larger community of vessels, they got separated.
“They were not in anybody’s territory,” Dr. Vest said. “They were several hundred miles out to sea when these pirates overtook them. They were in international waters and had every right to be there.”
According to the couple’s website that was last updated Dec. 21, 2010, they planned to join the Blue Water Rally (http://www.yachtrallies.co.uk/), which is an organized rally for yachts that wish to travel around the world in two years.
Yachts can join the group for various sections and the Quest joined the OZ-Med section from Australia to the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel’s scheduled ports of call were Galle, Sri Lanka; Cochin, India; Salalah, Oman; Djibouti, Djibouti; The Suez Canal; and Crete by April. After that, the couple planned to sail casually to Turkey and then London.
On Feb. 18, the Adams and their two sailing companions, Macay and Riggle, both also experienced sailors, were intercepted by Somali pirates between India and Oman. The Quest was hijacked and they were all taken hostage. They were held captive about the sloop until Tuesday when their lives were taken.
“While I did not have the privilege of meeting these individuals, all reports of their passion and lives speak powerfully of their love for Christ and a bold response to his calling in their lives,” he wrote.
“I’m also reminded of the honor to be any part of this work as well as the price that this mission so worthily carries.”
He asked employees to join him in prayer for the families and loved ones of the slain missionaries.
“Whether we get the privilege of seeing it or not, let’s pray that the work of our hands will impact lives exactly as God most deeply desires. In ways big and small, Scott and Jean’s story is a story about the hopes of our mission in action, and worth everything we’ve got,” he wrote.
For almost 195 years, the mission of American Bible Society is to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message.
Dr. Vest said it has been around for a longtime and within its pages shares a life-changing message that people are to love one another, live in peace and to care for one another. That is exactly what the Adams were attempting to do.
“We want to be mindful there are people who have enough faith and confidence in scripture to believe it is worth the risk,” he said. “They didn’t force anybody to receive a Bible. They just simply had them available.”
At each port of call, the couple looked for ways of making contact with local churches and individuals who wanted a copy of the Bible. They traveled to many of the ports before and there were people in each of the places who looked forward to their arrival.
“They found people wherever they went who opened their homes to them,” he said.
According to the AP, pirates currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages, not counting the attack against the Quest. The best-known case of Westerners being held hostage in Somalia was that of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple held for 388 days. The two, who were captured while sailing in their private yacht, were released in November.
The AP reported the pirates from the northern Somalian state of Puntland are not hard line Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem. Pirates in Puntland are known to spend their ransom spoils on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.