Family prays for resurrection of daughter killed on African mission trip

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Dec. 13, 2013 at 6:13 a.m.
Updated Dec. 14, 2013 at 6:14 a.m.

Rebekah Taylor, 28, died Tuesday in a car wreck in Niger, Africa. She is shown playing with local children on a previous trip to Guatemala.

Rebekah Taylor, 28, died Tuesday in a car wreck in Niger, Africa. She is shown playing with local children on a previous trip to Guatemala.

The last Facebook post Rebekah Taylor wrote Dec. 3 requested prayers for an 11-day mission trip to Niger, Africa.

On Friday, Taylor's 28th birthday, her Facebook page was littered with prayers and encouraging words. Others posted photos and Bible verses for healing.

But the posts weren't praying for Taylor to heal from sickness or return to the United States safely.

Instead, they were posting comments about praying for miracles and requests for others to join the family in praying for Taylor to return from the dead.

On Tuesday at 5 a.m., Taylor's mother, Susie Taylor, received a phone call that her daughter died in a car wreck in Africa and Taylor's body would need to be shipped back to Texas.

"Mom handed the phone to our sister when she heard the news. It was just too much," said Taylor's sister, Mandy Cardenas, of Victoria. "To wake up and hear something like that - it's almost like a nightmare."

Cardenas explained the wreck happened when her sister, two other missionaries from Santa Fe Family Worship Center in Santa Fe - Ruby Sprayberry, 43, and Stephanie Clawson, 35 - and the driver of the Toyota 4Runner they were traveling in, hit a patch of loose gravel and skidded off the road as they were making a turn.

The vehicle flipped several times, she said, and landed in an embankment. All four of the passengers were ejected.

The driver, Sprayberry and Clawson experienced critical injuries, including broken bones and back injuries.

Taylor, however, was the only fatality.

"The moment we found out, we started praying for life for her," Cardenas said, explaining her family's belief that God can raise people from the dead. "We've witnessed miracles and seen things happen where there is no denying God" is capable of doing anything. "We're praying for a miracle."

Taylor, who has attended Faith Family Church in Victoria since she was a girl, was no stranger to international mission trips.

It was her passion to travel the globe spreading the gospel of Christ with people of other nations.

In years past, Taylor has traveled to New Zealand and Guatemala at least twice before traveling to Niger two weeks ago.

"Her plan was to be a missionary. She just wanted to do the Lord's work," said Westley Taylor II, Taylor's brother. "She had several places she still wanted to visit, so she wasn't even close to being done yet."

Referencing Romans 8:11, "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same spirit living within you," Westley Taylor said his family's entire network of Christian friends and thousands more throughout the world are praying for God to raise Taylor from the dead.

"We don't want to say that she's gone. We know she was dead at the scene, but we're not saying that 'she's gone' or 'she'll be missed' because we're praying for resurrection power," he said.

Cardenas also believes her sister's life will be spared because days before she left for Niger, Taylor told her siblings about a "weird dream" she experienced.

"She said 'I dreamed I was in an accident in a truck, and I was laying there on the ground, but I wasn't in the vehicle. It was like I was looking at myself. And then I heard someone say everything is going to be OK,'" Cardenas said, describing the dream. "She didn't know what it meant or if it meant anything at all, but she told each of us individually about it."

As soon as Cardenas heard the news of her sister's death, she immediately thought of their conversation about the dream - and started praying for her to be healed.

"We just got a text from her on Sunday that she was excited to be coming home, and she couldn't wait to share her stories with us," Cardenas said.

The family is working with the U.S. Embassy and the insurance policy through Taylor's airline to return her body home to Texas by Monday.

The family was not discussing funeral plans as of Friday. They are believing and praying for a miracle.

Faith Family's senior pastor, the Rev. Jim Graff, said Taylor's life was an inspiration to many at the church.

"Rebekah and her family are a precious part of our church family. ... It's been inspiring to watch her, as a young adult, following the passion of her heart to share God's message of love throughout the world," Graff said. "... As a church family, we could not be more proud of the life Rebekah has lived to help others."

Westley Taylor agreed his sister is an inspiration, mentioning her many talents in ministry that gained her so much admiration from all those who knew her.

"She was very gifted in singing and music. She was a gifted speaker, and she had spiritual gifts," he said. "She was so pure."

Cardenas said her sister will be remembered for her kindness and passion for serving God.

"Rebekah touched souls; that is her calling. It's her ministry," she said. "She was supposed to go to Africa. But she is also supposed to come back."



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