The April 20 deaths of Veronica "Roni" Bowers, 35, and her daughter Charity, 7 months, were part of God's plan, Jim Bowers says. Veronica and Charity Bowers died after a Peruvian military jet, believing their pontoon plane was smuggling drugs, shot it down over northeastern Peru. Bowers, 38, and son Cory, 6, were also on board but were unhurt. Pilot Kevin Donaldson, 41, of Morgantown, Pa., who managed to land the plane on the Amazon River, suffered serious leg wounds.
Bowers tells Diane Sawyer on ABC's "PrimeTime Thursday" May 24 that he had just told his wife to wake their 6-year-old son, Cory, when a bullet went through Roni Bowers, killing her and baby Charity. "I just don't want to think about that because it hurts so much," Bowers tells Sawyer. "She was just a marvelous person. She would just break out in song and sing. She laughed a lot."
Sawyer also interviews Donaldson, the American pilot who managed to land the crippled plane on the Amazon River, despite a bullet wound to the leg. "I would love to meet those pilots," says Donaldson. "I would really like to meet them, to sit down to talk to them, to tell them I have no hard feelings whatsoever," he says. "Who am I to not forgive someone else for something minor in comparison to what Jesus Christ has done for me?"
Donaldson says only divine intervention could explain how he and Jim and Cory Bowers survived the crash landing into the river. "It shouldn't have stayed upright, it shouldn't have landed like it did." Donaldson says. "I just can see nothing more than the Lord took that old aircraft in his hand, and set it down on that river." While struggling to make it to shore, Donaldson says, "we literally just cried out to God, said, you know, 'God help us, help us.'"
The Bowerses began serving as missionaries in the Peruvian Amazon in 1993, living on a houseboat built by their church and preaching in villages along a remote 200-mile stretch of the river. They served a mission-organizing group called the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, based in New Cumberland, Pa.
The Bowerses were among two dozen or so Christian missionaries working near Iquitos, about 625 miles northeast of Lima.
A portion of the transcript follows:
Do you wish God hadn't asked this of you?
Well, no matter how much I miss her and suffer right now, I'm saying to God that He's chosen me. I don't have a choice now.
Even though I don't understand most of what God does, the real life isn't here on earth. There's going to be billions of years where that's the real life. She had her little seven months on earth and now she's in, in Eternity and, and perfection.
I'm telling God, I said, 'Well, you know what you're doing and there's obviously something great that's going to come out of this and already has.' Ronnie's goal in life was to reach people for you. Like I told the people at the funeral, if nothing else, seek God. Look for him somewhere and say, 'There's gotta be more than, to life than this short seventy or eighty years.' And that's what I'd like to tell people, is just for at least the basic, is seek Him and ask Him to show Himself. So that's my, that's my sermon for today.