OMAHA (Christian Examiner) – A missionary couple and their three young children were killed in car crash on a Nebraska highway July 31, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their children – 3-year-old Ezra, 23-month-old Violet and 2½-month-old Calvin – were en route from Minnesota to the last leg of their missionary training at the Colorado headquarters of WorldVenture when the accident occurred.
The couple had one month of training left before they would have been assigned to Japan.
According to Nebraska State Patrol, the couple's van was hit by a tractor trailer and pushed into three other westbound vehicles. Police arrested the driver of the semitrailer on suspicion of five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide. He is expected to be charged formally soon.
Others injured in the accident were transported to area hospitals for treatment and are expected to survive.
WorldVenture released a statement saying Jamison and Kathryne Pals were "all about the people of Japan being reached for Jesus, that they might know the joy of salvation."
"Following their language acquisition training they anticipated sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling new followers of Jesus. In speaking with WorldVenture President Jeff Denlinger, Jamison and Kathryne's fathers each echoed this sentiment: 'Though we are devastated, we are praying that God would bring many to Christ through their testimonies and this tragedy,'" the statement said.
The Pals were members of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., where they served in the church's local ministry. They also worked in the church's international missions efforts. The church is well known for its pastor, John Piper, who stepped down as pastor in 2013 after nearly 30 years of service.
The church issued a brief statement via social media. It said the couple and their children will be sorely missed.
"We weep and mourn and ache together as their church family in a very specific way. Some look at death and see a tragedy – the tragic end of all their hopes and dreams. As Christians, we look death in the face and see ultimate victory, not tragedy, because Jesus defeated sin and death for all of his people. Facing death without Jesus is an eternal tragedy – weeping that never ends," the statement from the church said.
But it continued:
"And so, while we grieve, we rise up with the resurrection faith as we embrace together our blessed hope the Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And so, we celebrate the fact that the Pals family is not dead, but more alive than ever because of the grace of God that is ours in Jesus Christ."
The Pals were planning on serving the Christ Bible Institute in Nagoya, Japan.
The Pals kept a blog "For the Joy of Japan." It features articles on their children, their planned move to Japan, and a fair amount of encouragement for the church to consider missions.
"The thing that makes Christian missions unique is Jesus Christ. And, Jesus Christ manifests himself to the world through his people. Therefore, we aim to reach the unreached by establishing local, visible expressions of Jesus Christ," Jamison Pals wrote July 15.
"In this age, the Church is imperfect, to say the least. We are not blind to her shortcomings. Yet, we dare not downplay her beauty either. The Church is, after all, the Bride of Christ. Wisdom would tell us to think twice before insulting a man's wife. The Lord did not consider himself above dying for the Church; he does not now count himself above dwelling in her midst and working through her. If you care about people knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ, you should care about the work of establishing churches among the nations."