A bronze statue of the late medical missionary Dr. Martha Myers was unveiled in the Samford University Library Friday, May 11. Appropriately, the life-sized memorial by Georgia artist Glynn Acree is housed in the library's Marla Haas Corts Missionary Biography Collection.
Dr. Myers, a 1967 Samford alumna who served the people of Yemen for more than two decades, was shot and killed at Jibla Baptist Hospital by a Muslim extremist in late 2002.
The statue shows the Alabama native dressed as she might have been on a typical day at the hospital: covered from head to toe, as is the custom for women in Yemen.
At a dedication service, Samford president emeritus Thomas E. Corts recalled the career missionary's legacy and dedication, and that she had been killed "doing what she wanted to do: keeping a promise."
Her calling to medical missions led her to medical school and appointment to the mission field where her hospital treated, over a 24-year span, nearly a million people.
Giving her weekends to care for people in remote areas, Dr. Myers became a local legend.
"Wherever she stopped on the road, people flocked to see Dr. Martha,'" said Corts. "She loved the people of Yemen, for whom Christ died as much as the people of Alabama. And the people of Yemen loved her."
Corts said he hoped that students who casually pass by her likeness may be stirred by her story and inspired to surrender their hopes of ease and prosperity in favor of treasures eternal.
The late missionary's father, Dr. Ira Myers of Montgomery commented that his daughter believed in preparing for what God had called her to do.
"She had a genuine enthusiasm for learning to do what she was called to do, and how to deliver it," he said. By offering skilled care and specialized surgical procedures for women, she earned the admiration of many people. "But male Muslims don't love Christians, and that led to her demise," he said.
"By her martyrdom, she may have influenced more people than she would have by her continued service," said Dr. Myers, who is also a Samford graduate.
Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland and Dr. Myers unveiled the sculpture, which Acree designed from extensive research and photos supplied by the family.
The missionary is dressed in a short-sleeved white medical jacket over a long-sleeved top, a below-the-knee skirt over slacks that reach the ankles, and sandals. "So that no skin would show, she always wore socks, not hose," noted Acree.
In her hands, she carries a roll of bandages and a prescription pad.
Because his subject was fluent in the Arabic language, Acree used both English and Arabic to inscribe the memorial with her name, birth and death dates, and the words, "She Loves God." The phrase also appears on the stone monument at her gravesite on the grounds of the hospital compound in Jibla.
"The present tense of the expression speaks volumes," said Acree.