Appendix E: Ione’s Personal Account of Hector McMillan’s Life
Hector McMillan was born July 16, 1915, in Avonmore, Ontario. A favorite aunt said that morning to the assembled family as she showed them a blanket bundle, “I’ve got something. Guess what it is. A little baby brother!”
In the modest framed farmhouse one-half mile west of town were gathered the other five children of slender Daniel Lochiel McMillan, a Scotch-Canadian farmer with laughing blue eyes. There was ten-year-old Archie, and four younger girls named Florence, Irene, Alice and Jean.
Jane McElheran McMillan, the beautiful brown-eyed wife of D.L. as he was known then, was thankful for a normal, healthy baby. It was nice too, to have a second son after so many daughters.
D.L. was thirty-four years when he and Jane were married in 1903. She was twenty-eight. When the babies started coming two years later they appeared fairly rapidly. The first four were just a little more than a year apart; Archie, then Florence, followed by Irene, then Alice. Jean came along two and one-half years later; then Hector three years later; lastly baby Eleanor.
The two youngest children were born in the farmhouse near Avonmore, Ontario. The family moved there because the parents wanted to be nearer the schools. The original farm near Newington where the others were born, was sold to people by the name of Thompson.
It was a Thompson boy who came to help out with the chores, milking and cleaning, when the dreadful flu epidemic broke out. It was the year following the end of the first world war. The whole family had the flu at once except the mother. There were a great many deaths from it. McMillans were fortunate, but it was a terrifying time.
How busy was Jane McElheran! The children were too young to realize just how busy she was. It is no wonder that the following year here health broke down and in a few months the family was left motherless. It was a great loss to them. They hardly knew how bereft they were. But as they grew older they never ceased to marvel how their father was able to manage. He was a great believer in keeping them busy and giving them responsibility. It wasn’t all he said, which drew their admiration, but the actions of a quiet-living and quiet-spoken man.
He sang while he started the fire in the wood stove the first thing in the morning. He loved to laugh and joke and be with people. It was just his day-to-day living that had the greatest influence on the lives of his children. They had family worship after breakfast every morning. On Sundays they had a little more time so they sang. Florence had a sweet soprano voice and would lead. D.L.’s prayer from day to day didn’t vary greatly. They mostly knew just what was coming next. But in later years Hector said that his Dad’s prayers offered at his bedside on retiring were “really something” and made an impression on the young boy who slept with D.L.
Hector was a happy little lad in the family home although very shy. He would not leave his mother at a Cradle Roll party which he attended when he was five years of age. Little did he realize that his mother whom he loved dearly would be taken from him. And in that hour of bereavement there would be that added sorrow of separation as little Eleanor was going away to live in another city.
Hector was always aware of the loss of his mother. Years later when he was a man he talked much about her. “My mother loved the Lord,” he said, “She was dying with tuberculosis but when she knew she would not live to raise her family, she trusted God to look after us. Her verse was from Psalm 138:8 – “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.””
After the mother died, older sister Florence became like a mother to them. Little Eleanor was only two years old when she was taken by relatives to be cared for in Montreal, two hours’ journey away. She was well looked after, but never lost interest in her own family in Avonmore.
Hector grew up with a minimum of care. He was so quick to do things and loved to be busy. His disposition was entirely different from Archie’s although in many ways they were similar. Hector was not too fond of school, though Archie loved it. Their Dad never forgave himself for taking Archie out of school when he was in his last year of public school (grade 8 now). But following the war help on the farm was impossible to get and it seemed the only solution. D.L. always felt he had short-changed Archie, and determined the others would have a good education.
The girls worked out a system in order to help at the farm. In spite of taking her turn at housekeeping, Alice managed to graduate from high school at the age of fifteen!
A dear aunt, D.L.’s sister Marjorie, tried to see that the clothes of the children were mended. It was a special treat to be invited to her home following church on Sunday mornings. She was a great comfort and help to D.L., and he counter on her.
The children walked the half mile to school four times a day and could never decide which wind blew the colder, the north or the east. They loved the springtime most of all when the road was bare again and the snow has melted and was running into the ditches.
One year D.L. planted corn in the 4-acre field between his farm and that of Fraser McRae. The corn was no sooner planted than the crows discovered how good it was and how fairly available. Hector borrowed a rifle from somebody and announced that he was going to shoot a crow and then hang it up for all the other crows to see what fate would befall them if they didn’t leave the corn alone!
The next morning before school Hector rushed upstairs to the small window overlooking the field. He had the gun with him. He had spotted a crow on a fence post across the field. There was a sharp bang, then a squeal of delight from Hector as he came tearing down the stairs.
“I shot a crow! I shot a crow!”
His eyes were like stars – he was so excited and thrilled! He ran all across the field and picked up the poor crow which was really and truly dead and he strung it up on post for all to see. He was a hero at school that day. Needless to say the crows were a little more cautious and in a few days the corn had a chance to sprout and started to grow.
The young boy’s love for putting together and dismantling was expended one time on a watch from Eaton’s mail order store. He managed to save $2.50 which he sent with the order. When the watch came he wore it; then he took it apart. Then he fixed it and wore it some more. When it failed to survive another episode of major surgery he sent it back to Eaton’s with a letter saying that it wasn’t satisfactory, and would they please send him a pair of roller skates instead! He enclosed fifty cents.
The public relations department of Eaton’s store must have been on their job because along came the roller skates. In no time Hector had them on and was travelling down the road to the village. He roller-skated all that summer and kept trying to do the half-mile in two minutes between the bank corner and the farm. He never quite made it but was often seen puffing from the exertion.
Other objectives were more easily attained. Such as carpentry, which he loved better than school work. Many hours did he and his friend Jimmy Tinkess spend in the workshop, building and taking apart, turning out a variety of articles. No doubt this inventive spirit prepared him for the many tasks he was called upon to do at the mission outpost in the Congo a decade later.
Hector made sure the four teachers of their school would know when to end a class period. Cousin Howard McMillan said, “He took an 8-day clock and fixed it somehow so it would ring every 35 minutes.” Perhaps his experience with the Eaton’s watch was already paying off!
It was Hector who invented a gadget to open the gates for the cows. But he never succeeded in figuring out a method for picking strawberries! Nor for the many other jobs they had to do every day, like milking, ploughing, sowing, harvesting, weeding, fixing fence, getting meals, going to school, homework. All were long remembered by all of the children. But the activity most remembered was the family worship which was a vital part of each day’s routine, just as important as the three meals which the father and children shared about the kitchen table.
School days in Avonmore for Hector came to an end in 1936, when he graduated from highschool.
To the McMillan home from time to time came cousins from western Canada, many of them either proceeding to the foreign mission fields or returning therefrom. In that year of graduation from Avonmore High School, Rev. and Mrs. Elmer V. Thompson stopped on the way from Cuba. A seed was planted in Hector’s heart, and he soon decided to enroll as a student of the Prairie Bible Institute of Three Hills, Alberta, and institute born out of the religious zeal of his own relatives in western Canada.
Having felt all along that a God of love would surely take him to heaven, he was surprised as a new student in that western school on the prairies to learn that, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Two days before school commenced Hector took Christ as his Substitute and was thus set free from the wrath of God. Later he recalled, “I was filled with joy to realize the answer to my mother’s prayer.” Hector’s mother had trusted God before her death to ‘perfect that which concerned’ her, and that included Hector, as well as all of his sisters and his brother.
The blessings were many during the four years of Bible study. Many class-room hours were fragrant with the presence and power of God as His truth was revealed through the Word.
Just before graduation, as he surrendered his will to God, the land of Brazil was laid upon Hector’s heart as the Lord’s place of appointment. He applied to and was accepted by the Unevangelized Fields Mission for missionary service abroad. The following winter was spent at the Mission Medical Institute, Toronto, where he was given valuable experience in the care of the sick.
Then came the candidate period, the month-long stage of training at the Toronto headquarters of the Unevangelized Fields Mission. Here he met Miss Ione Reed, who later became his wife.
Rev. and Mrs. E.J. Pudney, Directors of the Mission, had invited seven missionary candidates to the 18 Howland Avenue mission address in Toronto. There was Effie Parkhill (now Mrs. Charles Sarginson); Joy Dempsey and Vance Brown (now Mr. and Mrs. Brown); Naomi Snider, Clara Hess, and Hector McMillan, all hoping to go to Brazil. And Ione Reed was the last, hoping to go to the Congo.
Mrs. Hector McMillan tells of how she first met Hector:
“The first step toward Congo was to be accepted by the mission board, and the North American headquarters of the U.F.M. was at that time only in Toronto. Later another was established in Philadelphia, Pa. So I came to Toronto from Pontiac, Michigan, for my candidate period.
I went to Toronto in May, 1941, arriving by train at the Union Station. Mrs. Pudney sent a young man with a car to meet me. The young man’s name was Hector McMillan.
I telephoned from the station and Mrs. Pudney told me, “There will be a young man to meet you, tall, thin, with glasses, and carrying a magazine.” She meant the U.F.M. magazine, though she had not said this!
Sometime later, I telephoned again and said,
“Mrs. Pudney, I looked for the young man, but there are MANY tall young men with glasses, and they are ALL carrying magazines!”
“Well, never mind,” she said, “If you do not see him you had better take a taxicab.”
My taxi pulled up in front of 18 Howland just behind the Pudney’s car. The tall, thin young man was returning, a bit bewildered, from the WRONG station!
This was the first time I ever saw Hector. And I decided that if I ever had anything to do with that fellow’s cooking I would fatten him up a bit!”
At the mission headquarters it was soon learned that at breakfast the candidates would be asked what new blessing the Lord had given them that day. So if they were to have an answer, the prerequisite was to get that blessing before coming down those stairs from the bedrooms.
Getting something from the Lord in the early morning became a wonderful blessing, and they found it helped not only in learning how to become a missionary, but in being one later on.
“How did you sleep last night?” was a polite question asked one morning of Hector.
“All right, but the ticking bothered me.”
“Ticking? Do you have a clock?”
“No,” and his hazel-brown eyes twinkled, “It was the mattress ticking.”
His sly humor was turned on Ione one day after he had learned that a pan of her muffins turned out only fit for the garbage can.
“Is there any hope of having oatmeal muffins today?” he asked here innocently, knowing that the rest of the company knew nothing about the mishap.
“No!” She put him off rather abruptly, hoping he would drop the subject.
“But,” he persisted, “Didn’t I see you making them in the kitchen?”
And then he chuckled merrily as it became necessary to tell everybody what happened to the oatmeal muffins.
There was a large mirror in the center of the mission home dining room table. Occasionally Ione saw there a pair of large hazel-brown eyes studying her. But she never met them with her own blue eyes. He was applying for Brazil, while her field was to be the Congo.
Finally, the evening came when all appeared before the Board in order to be accepted by the mission. The seven young people stood in the kitchen, their hearts missing every other beat, until they were called, one by one. Hector and the others were accepted for Brazil. Ione was accepted for Congo.
Hector was still planning to go to Brazil in the fall of 1941, when Pearl Hiles, a new American missionary nurse, and Ione, came to the recently established U.F.M. headquarters in Philadelphia, Pa. All were together at this American headquarters for several weeks. There was some delay in the Congo sailing, so the young people made the best of their free time. There were walks at Wissahicken Park among the fallen leaves. Hector sat with Ione on the streetcar going back. It was then that he told her about the death of his mother when he was only five years old. Ione could see that it was a great loss to him. And she remembered this impression two years later when they became engaged and Hector quoted in one of his letters the last part of Genesis 24:67 –“and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Apparently, Ione’s coming into Hector’s life became a comfort just as did the coming of Rebekah to Isaac.
Thanksgiving in 1941 found Hector still at the headquarters in Philadelphia. And Pearl and Ione were still delayed in their departure for the Congo. Mrs. Pudney took a group of young people to a dinner in New York at the apartment of a dear Christian friend, Mrs. Evans.
Hector sat writing in the well-furnished living room in a chair next to Ione’s. She noticed Hector’s chair was beautiful but somewhat frail, even slightly unsteady on its legs. Hector concentrated his thoughts on it as he tested the strength of each leg in turn while sitting in an upright position. Then, with an overwhelming desire to see what was wrong with that chair underneath, he shocked everyone by jumping up and turning the chair upside down. Satisfied that he could do the job, he reached in his pocket for a small tool and tightened the loosened parts.
Mrs. Evans came to call them for dinner just as Hector finished the repair of the chair. She was surprised to find her chair turned over, but exceedingly pleased to find that it was now steady on its legs.
As they walked to the table, Hector quoted in Ione’s ear from Proverbs 18:16 –“A man’s gift maketh room for him.” Ione decided that Hector’s gift for fixing things would make room for him anywhere he went.
Just at the time Pearl and Ione were able, along with Miss Viola Walker, a Canadian teacher, to sail for the field on the S.S. Lashaway December 17, ten days after Pearl Harbor, Hector was suddenly stopped from going to Brazil. In fact, he would not go to any field, as a war was on, and he returned to Canada to do service with the Royal Canadian Airforce as Leading Aircraftsman in Radar.
Mrs. Pudney arranged for Viola and Pearl to ride with Mr. Pudney in the car with the hand baggage to the boat. She asked Ione to ride with her on the train as there was no room in the car.
While riding on the train, they discussed Hector’s change of plans. “The way to Brazil is definitely closed to him,” began the mission leader’s wife, “And he will need to serve his country for a minimum of two years. After that, he will be free to offer for any of the U.F.M. fields. Mr. Pudney and I would like then, to send him to the Congo.”
This was the first time that Ione knew Hector might be going to her field of service. Mrs. Pudney was quick to notice her surprised pleasure.
“Does this interest you?” she asked, and then went on to say, “and if it does, you also might be glad to know that he likes the way you cock your head on one side like a robin!” and Mrs. Pudney laughed in high girlish glee.
“If he writes to you, would you answer?” was her next pertinent question, “for if you are not interested, we will not make him miserable by sending him to your field! That fellow is too much in love to be put through such pain.”
Ione told her that she was interested, and would answer a letter if Hector wrote.
The girls left the country and began what was the first term of service for Ione and Pearl and the second for Viola. Ione looked for a letter soon after they arrived in early 1942. None came until May 30; it had not been sent airmail, but by the long, circuitous journey of sea and land. It was dated February 16. As she opened it, she made a mental note that probably Mrs. Pudney had not told him she was interested until making sure that Hector felt the Lord was calling him to the Congo.
“Dear Ione (something I have never said to you before):
Would that I were accompanying this letter. I have just looked up the verse in Daily Light that best applies and it is, “Lord, all my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee.” Psa. 38:9.
“I have a long and interesting story to tell you. It begins with a letter from Mr. Pudney on January 7th. They had a board meeting in Toronto and since the way to Brazil seemed permanently closed, they talked over my mentioning of the African field.
So Mr. Pudney requested that I enquire into the Lord’s will in the matter…..The matter seemed to settle around the verse about redeeming the time because the days are evil. So I have had my passport changed to include the Belgian Congo.”
Ione’s answer to that letter concluded with the words of the song,
“God holds the key to all unknown, and I am glad:
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me, I might be sad.”
Hector wrote regularly while he was serving in the Airforce, and in her letters Ione tried to give him some idea of what is was like in Congo.
Hector’s military commitments lasted nearly two years, and during that time the couple were engaged by cablegram on May 9, 1943. His offer of a diamond ring brought her answer by cable” “Received April 11 letter. Answer is YES. Ring idea good. Ruth 1:16.”
Just at the time Hector was released from the Airforce, and was ready to sail for the Congo, Ione’s furlough time came. It was still during wartime in December of 1944 when Ione’s boat docked at New York. She had no way of knowing whether Hector would be able to meet the boat and there were war restrictions barring anyone from coming near to the boat. Furthermore Ione was delayed in the ship five hours in the care of a sick lady. She looked for a way to get a message to shore so that Hector would know that she was on that boat. Another passenger, the Vice-Council to Angola, was going ashore, and she asked him to look at the entrance of the dock for a tall young man with glasses and PERHAPS a box of chocolates under his arm!
“I saw no more of the Vice-Council to Angola,” she said later, “But I learned that he DID meet a young man at the gate and asked, “Are you Hector McMillan?”
“Yes I am,” said Hector, “And is Ione Reed on that boat?”
“Yes she is,” said the Vice-Council, “And, say fellow, you’d better get you some chocolates!”
Hector managed somehow to find some chocolates by the time Ione disembarked. But she was surprised to have him tell her that when they took her baggage off that ship, they were going to put his baggage on! That didn’t sound like getting married. But the boat docked for one month and during that time they were able to make plans for a wedding in the Congo. Ione took a short furlough on ten months and then returned to the field by way of the Nile River, hoping to be married at Juba, in the Sudan.
After leaving the ocean liner, Ione took a train which went to the boats on the Nile River. She spent 18 days on a small river boat. The wedding dress was hung in the middle of the cabin so that she could check it every day. One day she noticed the insects had eaten holes in the finger-tip veil. So she stopped off at various villages looking for ribbon and lace to cover the mended places with rosettes and lover’s knots. The dress looked quite nice by the time she arrived at Juba. And Hector was waiting there on the dock. No chocolates! But he was waving the marriage license and shouting, “We can be married in five days…..and I’ve got WITNESSES!” The witnesses were Chester and Dolena Burk from western Canada, who had come from their U.F.M. station of Boyulu.
Hector and Ione were married November 27, 1945, at Juba, Sudan and then travelled the 1000 mile journey to their field in the Congo.
Then came the little boys – six of them in 7 years. Two during the first term after marriage; one in Canada during the next furlough; two more during the next term; and the last one in U.S. on the ensuing furlough.
When the McMillans saw that the Lord was sending them all boys they decided that it was to meet the shortage of men on the mission field.
Ione asked Hector, “How do you intend to raise missionaries?”
“With the rod and the Book,” He showed her the short strong strap and the Bible. “If they learn to obey their parents, they will hear God’s voice and obey Him.” So they set out to raise missionaries.
Sons Kenneth, Paul, John and Stephen were born in the Congo; Timothy in the U.S. And David was the one born in Canada.
During their first furlough in 1949 and ’50, they stayed at Three Hills, Alberta. Hector took a refresher course at Prairie Bible Institute and also a course in Bookkeeping.
Ten years later another furlough was spent in Three Hills and the six children were able to attend the Prairie Grade School. Ione took a correspondence course then on, “Suffering Saints,” from the book of Peter. This was a real preparation for the difficulties through which they passed during the rebellion in the Congo a few years later.
Hector was a general missionary, doing all sorts of maintenance work, in addition to village and station preaching. He gave a message one furlough on the subject, “Twenty-five Things a Missionary Should Be.” He pointed out the many varied departments of the work and how God’s faithfulness was manifest in each job.
He wrote a letter in 1950 to Will Dawn (Wamba, H.A.M.) a friend from his P.B.I. days. He said,
“There is enough work at Bongondza to keep the whole carpenter gang of P.B.I. busy for at least a year. There are a few power machines such as a buzz saw, grinder, and lathe, but I would just love to have a planer and a saw mill. Some of the native lads are doing well, and that is a bit of encouragement. Ione is helping in the boys’ school, taking singing and handcraft classes.”
Hector was happy at his work at Bongondza at the workshop. In a very short time he had installed a 3-drum water tank for the station leader, Mr. H. Jenkinson. It had an indicator on it which told how full it was. He made an oven for Miss Verna Schade, a schoolteacher. Also, a new-style food cupboard. Then there was a buffet for Miss Joan Pengilly, a book-case and ‘what-not’ for Miss Mary Rutt. For his wife there was a cupboard, a box for knives and forks, rubber feet for chairs, and a very special baby carriage. The carriage had knee action for its rubber-tired wheels and was made of beautiful mahogany wood.
It was Hector who invented shingles for the African houses. He produced them on an assembly line in great numbers. His round house was famous as it took a minimum of kiln-dried bricks and also a minimum of time in the building. Miss Schade, who lived in the house, said that one advantage of a round house was that there were no corners to collect the dust!
Missionaries on the other U.F.M. stations often sent various items to be repaired. Mrs. Jim Carter from Boyulu sent not only items from their station but carried a clock from a missionary in Ruwenzori, two day’s-journey away. Her letter read,
Here are the clocks from Harry Hurlburts at Ruwenzori. Harry would like the one mended, and the other package is spare parts which he thought you might be able to use. I’m also sending my glasses. I shall be very glad if you could put a screw in.”
When building houses, he did not lack for help, but it was not skilled labor. Sometimes he stored nails in a wooly head of hair. He had very little hair of his own! Then he would reach for the nails one by one from the African head in order to spike some rafters to a ridge pole. By talking to the Africans while he worked, he was able to learn much of the Bangala language in this way.
He wrote home about it.
“It must be my Canadian accent that makes me so hopeless at the language. Several of the carpenters and masons were trying to help me pronounce various Bangala words. So, in return I tried them out on the English word for the same thing. As distinctly as I could I said, “Rafter.” Then came a chorus of voices, “Laughter.” They see no difference between R and L.”
Once the language was learned, there was no limit to the opportunities of missionary work in and around Bongondza. Week-ends would find them in villages, Hector and Ione both preaching as well as looking after their babies. One time they forgot to take boiled water for the powdered milk, so they just sat around the fire and chatted with the Africans while the water was boiled in a big clay pot. Ione strained it through a cloth, cooled it and it met their need acceptably.
During their furlough of ’49 and ’50, they lived in Three Hills, Alberta, next door to Hector’s Aunt Mabel McElheran. This became a great blessing to Ione as well as to Hector. Aunt Mabel’s advice and prayer burden for the young couple helped them to go on for God in a real way.
The furlough of ’60 and ’61 was spent in Three Hills as well. Aunt Mabel was getting older by then, but still as vital in her ministry before the Lord for others. The daily visits to chat with Ione became more and more precious. She showed Ione how to make long winter under for the six boys out of the long sleeves of discarded sweaters which they received from the Institute. Also she showed her how and helped here to make quilts from the usable parts of cast-off coats. She often brought over fresh rolls or bread or other nice things to eat.
The book, “Nothing in My Hand,” was being dictated by Aunt Mabel one day as she came over bringing something. “Your book says, “Nothing in My Hand,” but I have yet to see the time when you have come to our house with nothing in your hands!”
After a year at Three Hills, the McMillan family was refreshed and longing to return to the Congo. Political affairs of that country were none too steady at that time, but Hector said, “I just can’t avoid God’s will.”
It was the end of August, 1962, when they finally found themselves packed and ready in Hector’s home town of Avonmore, Ontario. They were disappointed to learn that they could not travel together, as the ocean liner had a place for only one, plus the truck they were to take. But the boys enjoyed the big two-ton Chevrolet truck while it was being loaded to take on the boat to the field. Some of the boys even went with Hector to Montreal to put it aboard the steamship “Thorsriver”.
Hector was to travel alone with the truck by boat. And Ione was to take the six boys by plane. Everything was in order except the visas which had already left Washington, D.C. and would be delivered at the boat. Hector’s baggage was put aboard, but as yet, no visa. It came time for the boat to leave and still no visa came. Accustomed to ‘deadlines’ which the Lord always caused somehow to turn out all right, Hector and Ione sat quietly and watched the boat pull out, with truck and baggage, but Hector was not allowed to go aboard without his visa.
Hector was silent as he went to inform the airway line that the boys and their mother would need to take a later plane. But there was no later boat. And the “Thorsriver” had already left with all possessions on it, except the hand baggage of Ione and the boys. When Hector came back from cancelling the flight, he sat down beside Ione with his elbows on his knees and his chin cupped in his hands. He shook his head, and said, “Only faith has the courage to fail.”
He put Ione and the boys on a small train which took them back to a town near Avonmore where they were met by a cousin and looked after for the five days until the next plane. He stayed at his sister Florence’s house in Montreal. The visas came the next day.
Hector did some calculating and inquiring. He found that the “Thorsriver” made several stops in the St. Lawrence River before it put out to sea. And several days were involved in this journey of about 1000 miles. Could he fly to catch up with the “Thorsriver”? He found that he could. By the time the big ocean vessel left its last port of call in Canada, Hector was aboard, and praising the Lord that He is never too late.
Ione’s plane left a few days later and she arrived in Congo in time to put the children into school at Rethy Academy, the African Inland Mission school for missionary children.
One letter written by Hector while on the “Thorsriver” said, “I remember how Uncle Fergus Kirk told us to get hold of a life principle and use it. I have been getting hold of one; it is that I might have a simple, uncluttered life.”
Hector’s last term in the Congo became simpler and less cluttered as the days went on. The intensity of his messages in the villages became stronger as tensions mounted politically. The family learned to live with less and to trust God more as everything material was swept away in the rebellion of 1964.
The last letter which the couple were able to send out before Hector was killed, was dated July 3, 1964:
If it takes trial to make our hearts burn for Jesus, then Lord, send us trial. This prayer was made a few days ago by Machini Philip, the pastor from Bongondza. Just what sort of trials might come to the Congolese Church is hard to predict.
Reports of people being shot with arrows and skewered with spears may be true, and we don’t say that it could not happen here. But for the present time, the situation in our particular area does not seem to indicate trouble immediately.
It does not appear that the change of the Congo government should bring about as great an upheaval as their Independence four years ago. It may not greatly affect the missionary efforts. We expect to carry on as we have been unless there is evidence that we are not wanted.
Just now there are 52 missionaries working in Congo under the Unevangelized Fields Mission. National workers number over 350, making up a team of ordained pastors, evangelists, qualified nurses and subsidized teachers. These are the leaders of 250 congregations, 8 dispensaries and 95 schools.
Our mission is calling for reinforcements in the Congo. This means that qualified persons even at this present time can apply. Especially needed are teachers for secondary schools, teachers’ training and seminary.
Your fellowship with us in this adventure is necessary for the full achievement of our hopes for the Congo. Our supporters have not let us down as yet. The money gets through – always – somehow. Letters of encouragement are being received. Some airmail letters include much needed sewing needles! Periodicals keep coming, and parcels often contain just the items which are unobtainable here.
Prayer can always get through for us, if offered by a sincere heart of one who truly loves the Lord. Some are praying for the Lord to remove the danger. We would like you to pray that the Lord’s people here may have grace to go through danger, and prove that God cares for His own.
We have daily communications by radio with the other U.F.M. stations. We also have contact with the African Council in Stanleyville who will advise us if it is necessary to leave the country.
Whatever trials may be brought to bear upon these people through government changes, there will be some Christians who will be strong in the Lord. Men like Machini Philip with hearts burning for Jesus, will go on serving Him no matter what happens.
At this writing we are enjoying quietness. On our way to Stanleyville this week we were stopped several times and searched. There is a curfew enforced so we must always be clear of this. Any moves we make must be planned carefully and sometimes authorities notified. It takes time and patience, but the work goes on.
Be assured that we are well and happy.
Lovingly yours. Hector and Ione McMillan”
To sum up Hector’s contribution as a missionary, it has been said that he was, “A servant to the servants of the Lord.”
Ione was unable to finish this chapter, but his information may be obtained from, “Out of the Jaws of the Lion,” by Homer Dowdy; “Congo Crisis,” by Joe Bayly; or “Congo Saga”. Also, Prairie Overcomer of Jan., 1965, has an article by Ione McMillan entitled, “The Passing of Hector McMillan.”