Testing the Loving
Ione and Hector have the family together for the Christmas vacation, but life is not easy, there are shortages to contend with, so packages from home are gratefully received as seen in Ione’s letter to her sister Lucille written on 10th January 1964 from Stanleyville:
Thanks for the package received on December 30. It contained sewing materials, iron-on patches and candy. Thanks very much. The patches came in time for the knee-holes in the pants the boys brought home this time. All of which Ione had previously requested in letters home in 1963).
Their (the six boys) vacation was short this time. But we did manage to take them out one week-end into the district. And we had some happy times at home.
We tried to do some shopping in Stanleyville but it takes hours to find simple things like salt & matches. No one has them displayed as they are so scarce. But praise the Lord we did get some and there is flour (but no yeast!!), cooking fat and potatoes & some fresh vegetables. I have some salami (smoked) which is nice.
We are well and happy. Love, Ione
By the 16th January 1964, the boys are back at school and Hector and Ione are at Bongondza, whilst most of the letter is written with a positive spin, there is an indication that both Hector and Ione are aware that there may be troubles ahead: Ione writes to her mother:
I am glad to have your telephone number. I’m going to call you up sometime from Kampala! I found out while I was there that you can telephone to the States for about $15. Some of our friends called England and it went through OK. But I would like to arrange ahead of time the day so that you will be sure to be there. I think it is 8 hours ahead of your time (it is 7 here). Could you give me some idea of your plans for April? We are thinking of going up to the mountains for the children’s next vacation which is April 1 to 30. We may take a cottage and have some time just as a family, then go over the border for some shopping in Kampala. I can’t give you a telephone number there, but we are going to try to stay at the Namirembe Guest House, C.M.S., at Kampala. They have a phone there.
Don’t feel sorry about not doing anything for Christmas. I would have felt bad if you had, for I know this has been the hardest Christmas yet. I believe the Lord is preparing us for something special, as He seems to want us to be more and more dependent upon Him.
We could not play the “Singing Dogs” (a recording of an American show where people bring in their hounds and sing along) this vacation as the tape recorder is not working just now. But the boys know about it and we hope to let them hear it next time. I’m glad I got to hear it before the recorder stopped working.
The boys went off to school this time in another missionary’s truck which he has fixed up with a closed-in body and they call it the “Ark”. This was a very short vacation, made especially short because of a field council meeting at the beginning and the children had to wait several days in Stanleyville for their trip home. Then the end was cut short because they left Stanleyville (Kisangani) on Monday and had to spend the week-end on the way to Stanleyville. And Kenny had to go with them and wait for about a week at Rethy until time for his plane to Kijabe. That’s why we want to go up next time and not bring them over that hard road again so soon.
The report for Paul was especially good this time. Mrs Sigg said that he had proven that he was able to take Kenny’s place at Rethy. He is taller than I am now and is getting quite nice looking. He trusts the Lord continually for help in his school work and gives the Lord credit. At Kenny’s school they do not give a special time for the high school children’s private devotions, and it seems quite an effort to have a quiet time. Kenny has five boys in his room, all missionary children, and not one of them gets up early enough to have devotions (they have breakfast at 6:15!). Will you pray especially for this as Kenny has been used to reading and praying regularly even when he was in the hospital. He wants to, but I am wondering if he will be tempted to skip it as his schedule is so full.
I’m going to have the headquarters send you some money to buy you and me some things. Several folk have sent things but I guess I’m getting too fat or too old to wear them. The underpants you sent are just right but are all I have. Ada Wideman sent 6 but all too brief and tight! I have given them to some little African girls. She also sent the fold-up bedroom slippers and they are too short. But don’t tell her. I need cotton slips and one or two comfortable cotton brassieres, #38 (if they’re not made in Japan!). I got some in Stanleyville and they are tight and pokey. We are in the hot season now and I notice it more. I don’t know what you need, but whatever Hector thinks I should send, you take half including the postage. My nightgowns are going, but I think I can make some here.
All for now. We are happy and praising Him for blessing day by day. Love, Ione
Ione writes to her mother again on the 27th January 1964, the news has more substance now as there are radio reports from West Congo where some people have been killed with machetes. Ione takes comfort in that these atrocities happen a long way from where she and Hector are. She writes:
But be sure that should this sort of thing come our way, the Lord would give grace for such a trial. We have been enjoying such wonderful liberties in preaching and leading souls to Christ that I would not wonder if the enemy of the soul would stir up trouble of this sort.
Dr. Sharpe (Dr Ian Sharpe and his wife Audrey were missionaries with UFM who came from England. Originally, they were based at Ekoko but they moved to Bongondza in 1961 to rebuild the hospital Dr Westcott originally built. As Audrey was a qualified nurse, they made a powerful team. It is the same family that share the driving when taking the children to school and who looked after Ken when he needed surgery.) preached a wonderful message yesterday on being born again, and a number of school boys accepted the Lord. Pray for the 50 girls which come to me every week for sewing and for my small Bible school.
Ever practical, Ione continues in a lighter vein:
I will be excited to know what you get with the money. But if you have debts you should use it for that first. I am about 33 in the waist now. Do you think I should wear those stocking socks that fit into the shoes and don’t show? The younger missionaries think these socks with cuffs on are old-fashioned!! And it’s too hot for stockings that are long or even knee-length. They say this will be the hottest hot season in 4 years as it is leap year!
We are well and happy, and can always have a good laugh. We planted some rose bushes all along the front of the house today. They need to be watered a lot during this season. I got them from an old Christian down the road, the only one around here who has roses. I wish you could come to our lovely station, smelling of jasmine and gardenias. Many things were cut down after Independence when the Africans lived in the houses, but much of the beauty is coming back. And the most beautiful part of the station anyway is the lovely spirit between the whites and blacks.
Don’t get discouraged. Pray especially for the new events which are stirring our Congolese people once more. The Lord said, “I will build my church.” He did not say just how He would do it. Much love, Ione X
In a letter to Hector’s sister Florence, written on the 9th February, Ione explains why the McMillan’s have two bank accounts, one in Stanleyville for purchases they need to make there and another in Kampala, Uganda, across the border from Congo, the exchange rate is better in Uganda and Ione shops more there when taking the boys to school. Ione writes:
Our life here is simple, and we do not have the problem of choosing what we will eat or wear, as there is no choice! Our biggest problem, as in the homeland, is always ourselves, and our own wicked ways. II Corinthians 9:11 – “Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God”.
But there are also hardships:
Mail service is very poor, but we have heard from the children twice since they left.
Hector’s project right now is re-roofing the hospital. This has not been done for twenty years, so is a real job. And it has to be done in the hot, dry season, which makes it more exhausting. But he has some helpers and has his materials on hand.
Hector is quite heavy just now, I think, too heavy, as it slows him down. He is going to have a check-up soon.
Nothing special seems to be wrong, just gets tired fast and has to stop now and then. I seem to be OK and have gotten over the operations all right.
Ione does not dwell on the hardships, but turns her attention to her family:
……it was nice to have some news. We were wishing to hear more about Carol (one of Hector’s nieces and Florence’s daughter). Where is she working? We are glad that Douglas (Florence’s son) is feeling better and that Audrey (Florence’s eldest daughter) did not have hepatitis. But she should be careful and take just a little more rest. Tell Shirley (another daughter) to keep up the good work in school. Give Joan (another daughter – there are seven siblings in the family!) our greetings. She is a dear girl, and I was so glad to have a little time of fellowship with her and her darling girls, that day of the reunion.
We had a nice time at Christmas with the boys here. They are growing fast these days, especially Paul. He is taller than his mother, and his voice is changing. This definitely affects their singing, but they did do a little singing out in the villages and in church.
Ken likes his new school and seemed glad to go back. He and the other 6 Congo students got a plane to Entebbe, where they were to change. When the tickets were examined, Ken and another student were told to get on a jet, so they beat the other five to Nairobi, Kenya and were given a steak dinner as well! They had a laugh about this. The others went on an ordinary plane.
Whatever the situation Ione finds herself in, her concerns seem to be for others. She writes to her sister Lucille and husband Maurice on 22nd February 1964:
The packages with the wintergreens arrived and were eagerly swallowed. Thanks very much.
It arrived with a strange-looking customs ticket on it, looking as though someone has pasted it on for a special reason. I opened the slip and it was for someone else in Congo, and was for tobacco! It looks as though some person has had his tobacco stolen and the tell-tale slip had to be accounted for in some way, so it was put on our package! Well, I’m glad it was the tobacco and not the candy that was taken. It arrived Feb. 11th.
Mother’s letter of January 21 sounded a little sad. Is she thinking of moving nearer to you? And if so, where would that be? I have been wondering what your plans for the future are. I have been praying especially about that, as well as for Larry’s future. I love him so much and want to see him happy and where God wants him.
I received a picture of Esther and family with her Christmas letter, and it was so good to see them all. I had not seen the baby. They are just darling children, and look so happy and contented and well-cared for.
This week Hector and I are going to Aketi, not far from Ekoko, where Marcellyn used to work. There is to be a Pastor’s Conference and Dr. Henry Brandt is coming to speak. We are taking native pastors from here and from Bopepe, Mary Baker’s station. (Mary Baker, a missionary from Virginia, USA joined the mission in 1947 and was first stationed at Ekoko.
Mary moved to a village called Bopepe in the mid 1950’s. For a long time, Mary lived there on her own supported by Congolese pastors Asani Benedictu and his twin brother Bo Martin. Asani was the elder and usually pulled rank on his very patient brother.
Twins were considered unlucky in Congolese’s families, usually one or both would be left in the forest to die, but these two survived because their parents were Christians. As they were identical, their mother gave them different facial tribal markings so she could tell them apart. They became very adept at surviving; they told a story of how their father was rescued by elephants once when chased by rival tribesmen out for his blood; he climbed a tree to escape his pursuers and quietly dropped on to the back of an elephant who took him away from danger.
They were committed Christians and ensured Mary was safe and well cared for at Bopepe. The people of Bopepe built a house for a missionary in the hopes that one would be allocated to them, they wrote to the UFM field council requesting that they be given a high priority and asked for either Stan Nicholls or Alf Walby be sent.
Whatever the discussions were, it was Mary who was asked to respond to the need. She always kept open house and as it was enroute from Stanleyville to Bongondza and other stations beyond she had many visitors. Mary was adventurous in more ways than one, she ate insects just as the Congolese did. She was a great favourite and it was always a pleasure to stop off and visit with her whenever I could persuade family to let me do this. By the early 1960’s, Mary was joined by an English Nurse, Margaret Hayes. Mary has been mentioned in some of Ione’s previous letters.) Mary is going along to translate for Dr. Brandt. Hector and I will help with the meals and coordinating the affairs.
We had a sad accident here the first of the month, when a little girl was electrocuted. There had been a storm and a wire was hanging down unnoticed. When the Doctor started up the motor, she was touching the wire. It was a main wire, direct from the plant, and she died instantly. She was the oldest daughter of one of our finest evangelists. We remembered that the Lord was a man of grief and acquainted with sorrows, and we got better acquainted with sorrow through this incident. The people took it real well, and the parents accepted it as from the Lord. We watched to see if there was any resentment or race feeling or that we had been careless, but we did not see anything but sorrow.
Because we had heard so many bad reports of western Congo, we were naturally wondering how we stood here. This seemed to be a confirmation that everything was all right in our part of Congo.
There has been some dissension in the church at our station near Stanleyville, called Maganga. The five missionaries there were about to resign, when it was decided by the UFM Executive Committee that they should go to other stations for the time being, to see if things would get better. Pray for this station. It may be that this is the Lord’s way of making them more indigenous. It will be proved whether they can carry on perhaps better without the missionaries. We are trying as much as possible to stay out of responsible jobs, just to give them a chance.
This is a major shift in emphasis and control that the mission has in Congolese churches. It could no longer deal with dissent the way it did when Denys Likanga challenged them in the 1940’s. The missions in Congo do not exist in a vacuum but are part of the social world of their time. Ever since the country has gained independence there has been dissension and dividing factions have wrestled for power. The country needs unifying in some way, hence the setting up of a Congo Protestant Council. There was a degree of satisfaction that Pasteur Asani Benedictu had a leading role, however, he made it clear he was not a puppet but had views and ideologies of his own.
This week the Congo Protestant Council comes under question by some of the more evangelistic missions on the issue of entering the World Council of Churches. Up till now this has not been a major issue. But we need much prayer at this time when the Congolese themselves will be deciding on the WCC. Just now the president of CPC is our own Asani Benedictu, who is really on fire for the Lord. But as president, he will not get a vote. We have a Congolese delegate and a missionary representing us at this gathering at Elizabethville, Katanga.
The boys are OK, rejoicing over their jeans. Thanks so much for sending them. Much love, Ione
Ione writes to her mother on 25th March 1964, she and Hector are preparing to travel to Stanleyville to meet up with the boys for their Easter holiday and she wants to post her letter as soon as they reach the town. Ione distracts family from her problems by focussing on her sister:
I was concerned about Lucille’s health, and wondered what you think about it. In a letter I got this week she said she was thankful to be able to hold a pen again as her hands had been so numb that she couldn’t for a while. Is there something wrong with her heart? The other trouble that she has had for years wouldn’t make her hands numb. I have been puzzling about this, and decided to ask you. I don’t want her to think I am unduly worried about her. Yet I would like to know what is wrong.
And then a bit about Kenny:
Kenny has been sick but is better now. The nurse at Kijabe wrote a real nice letter and said it was a pleasure to look after him. We showed the letter to Doctor Sharpe and he thought Ken might have had a touch of pneumonia. They X-rayed his lungs and found a slight infection. But this must have cleared up, for they let him go back to school. He expects to take a plane to Bogoro. He loves to go there as there is a swimming pool and his pal lives there. The Epps (Moody classmates of mine) will see that he gets on the plane at Bunia for Stanleyville. Ken will get into Stan just a few days after we arrive back with the others.
But then comes the warning of the unsettled times they are facing:
Pray for us in these coming weeks, as there will be Elections beginning April first in some parts of Congo (in fact, in the area we have to pass thru when we get the children!). Dr. Sharpe was here with his family just after Independence and during the time when the missionaries were under house arrest at Banjwadi. He observed lately that he anticipates some similar troubles during the Elections. However, we’ll not be pessimistic and perhaps they’ll go off all right. Just remember this in prayer.
And to finish, Ione ends on a more positive note:
Hector and I keep quite well. Hector has to take pills for a type of arthritic condition in his knees. Neither of us feel very peppy but you don’t in this climate. So, we do just a little bit less, and save strength for the big jobs. He is roofing the hospital now, the first time since Dr Westcott was here.
All for now. We are so happy to have intercommunications with nearly all of our UFM stations. We can hear AIM, but cannot talk to them. As yet, we haven’t heard whether they are getting us. Yesterday we heard who was going to meet Kenny at Arua.
Much, much love, Ione
The Easter vacation is unexpectedly extended, Ione writes on 26th April 1964 to Lucille:
We brought our boys here to send them on their journey to school, and when we arrived, we learned that school was postponed for one week. Instead of April 30 it is May 7, that it starts. The announcement was made on the radio. The first announcement said that it was because the dining room roof was not finished; the second radio broadcast said that it was because there had been some local demonstrations because of Congo elections. They wanted the children to wait “until the dust settled.” Our roads are too muddy to make the 11-hour journey back to Bongondza to wait (It is the rainy season). Not much “dust” here, either politically speaking, or climatically. The Congo River is rising and nearly up to Second Street.
So we are waiting in Stanleyville with several other families. We thought we could make a visit to another station in another direction, but their river is flooded, too. In fact, they are keeping their car on this side, so that when they bring their children they can connect up with canoes.
We are all well. I am wondering how you are, Lucille. We are praying especially for you these days, for your health, as well as for Mother, too. The Lord has a solution for every problem.
We want to do our part in whatever is wisest. It seems that you should be nearer to Mother, but if you are not well enough, then I should be doing something about it. I love you so much and hate to have you be frail in health.
Much love to you both, Ione
On May 5th, the boys finally leave for School; Ione writing to her mother says:
…we have sent them off knowing that the Lord will be with them. Four cars went up this time, as there are quite a few children. We are happy to have them in such a good school. Kenny got off OK for Kijabe, part way by car and part by plane. All are well. We have heard there is a possibility of an American school in Stanleyville soon (perhaps in September) If this comes, we may be able to have a children’s home again.
How are you now, Mother? Did Maurice & Lucille come to see you yet? We were so glad to have Doris’ letter.
Archie has been in the hospital again and Jean started having pain in her other side of the jaw. This is the second or third time in hospital for Archie. His heart is bad.
We are happy here and feeding on the Lord’s faithfulness day by day. We recently received another food order from Leggett’s Wholesale. Your package has not come yet. Pray for its safety. So many thieves. Our David had a 1000-franc bill snatched right out of his hand. Love, Ione
In a letter to Lucille written on the 9th May, Ione gives more information on how they filled their vacation time with the boys and an indication of the changes that are occurring in town:
We ‘camped’ in the old hangar which used to be the Children’s Home and had some nice days together. Hector and the boys started a garage for Mr Carper’s truck (he is the new Deputy Secretary of the UFM in Congo) and dismantled the old Jeep to make a run-about out of it. Since there were three families of children there it was a bit complicated, with other houseguests and a nearby conference going on, but I took charge of drinking water and cookies and felt I had helped a little. Eventually the children got off. This gave the boys an extra week with Ken which was nice. Ken left before they did, on the first car that went up to Rethy. They had tamed a little squirrel and Ken took it to Rethy as his car was not so crowded. They will take care of it there.
All of us are well. We had several escapades with thieves in Stanleyville, but the Lord always gives a time and place to calm down and rest a little. The government does so little to thieves that are many, and when local people catch them, they are merciless, often beating them to death. Mrs Parry, the mother of two Rethy Children was standing beside me in a shop and her nylon shopping bag was slit with a razor; the man was ready to reach into it when she noticed and got out of the shop quick. (Nora Parry became a missionary after reading one of George Kerrigan’s articles published in a UFM magazine. Although she had met and known her husband Dennis in the UK before going to Congo in the late 1940’s. Nora and Dennis, like Ione and Hector, met and married as missionaries in the Congo – they had four children, when returning to Congo post-Independence, their two eldest children were left behind at boarding school. Their early years were spent on the Maganga mission station but now were stationed at Bodela.) These men are dangerous and we do not resist but get out of the way. One family was robbed while they were asleep after being sprayed with a fluid that put them to sleep. The thieves got 40,000 francs and many valuable possessions. The family were so frightened that they have come to headquarters for a while to recover.
If you hear of trouble in the Kivu Province or Bukavu, you will know that it is two days away from us. There was some evacuation of missionaries there when the youth terrorists surrounded mission stations. We have had none of this sort of thing. But there are some very bad youth groups called Jeunesse, trained to start revolutions. I hope they stay away from here. We have a loyal group who would put up a big fuss if anyone like that came around.
The Jeunesse movement developed in the early 1960’s post-independence. The north east of the Congo supported Patrice Lumumba and his political party ‘Partie Nationale Populaire’ (PNP). Lumumba became Zaire’s first elected leader in 1960 but was murdered soon afterwards. His ideologies were largely socialist and he had a great deal of support from communist countries.
Lumumba was considered one of the ‘elite middle class’ or ‘evolue’; in 1958 he published a manuscript setting out his vision for Congo wherein he was looking for prison reform, abolishment of prostitution and for a strong central government that would not be partisan to tribal influences. The manuscript was only published after his death. In 1960, prior to the declaration of Independence, Lumumba’s party won most seats in the legislature, power was divided between the west and eastern regions. Unfortunately, tribal loyalties came into play especially in the army where soldiers would not accept a promoted officer if he came from an inferior tribe. The army mutinied and Lumumba approached the UN for help. To avoid a situation similar to Korea, it was decided that Belgian army officers take back control. Lumumba felt this was a retrograde step and a threat to Independence for the country.
The parties from Leopoldville were supported by the West; eventually Moise Tshombe came to power with support from America and Europe; his power base was mainly in the opposite side of the country to that of Lumumba’s. Anyone in the north east who had previously been in opposition to the PNP were eliminated; it is reported that over 2000 Congolese were killed in Stanleyville’s town Square in front of the statue of Lumumba. And soon the ‘Rebels’ made up largely of the Jeunesse and led by Gibenye began to command more power over everyone in their territory.
Although Tshombe had American support, he had limited cash, so took on mercenaries to help clear up problems with provinces that were wanting to split away and set up their own independent states. These areas were copper and mineral rich and much needed for the country’s economy and a split was untenable. This is an oversimplification of the political situation but hopefully will demonstrate the complexity of some of the issues that were influencing feelings at that time. Ione is writing as a missionary not as a political commentator.
If there is any trouble it will be about elections and be between dissenting parties. Our local chief is being deposed and there may be something over this at Kole. The story is going around that there will be one day of retributions (the Congolese wanted to avenge the many years of mis rule – mainly by ‘white’ people but really any injustice harboured was enough); I hope we find out which day and can stay very quiet until it is over. Pray for us in July, which seems to be the critical time. But the UN officers are staying in Congo, (plus 20 thousand troops from 34 nations) and recently Belgian leaders have come to Stanleyville to help with the Congo army once more. They dress like soldiers but are very helpful in maintaining discipline, under the commanding Congolese officers (the UN were present in a peace keeping role and would not intervene to settle disputes). We are in touch with other stations by radio now, every noon, and also Stanleyville. We hear Rethy but cannot talk to them.
Much love, Ione
Ione writes again to her mother on the 25th May, they are back at Bongondza but are not getting mail from Kole, Ione explains:
One sack has been locked up in the mail room of the little office at Kole, and no one has the authority to open the door, the man who has gone off to Stanleyville. He has been gone two weeks now, and sacks received since have been given to us, but that one is probably the one that has your letter!!
Ione also explains why the boys return to school was delayed a week:
There had been a demonstration of the Youth Movement (Jeunesse) which has appeared in several places in the Congo. About 120 came on the station (not Ione’s) and required a particular kind of salute. The missionary lady failed to come up to their requirements and there was some animosity and threats to kill.
Since then we have heard some of the members of this movement are now in Stanleyville. This week a curfew has been on in Leopoldville because of some bombs being set off there. We are not in a very quiet place Mother, but all over the world is unrest, and I would rather have Congo and its particular kind of difficulties than to be anywhere else in the world. We do believe the Lord brought us here and will take care of us as long as we are to stay. We have no assurance that we will finish our term, but go on day by day, doing just what He shows us to do. We have every courtesy among our local folk and feel quite secure on our station. We have no thieving, even though our house is insecure (from the standpoint of ant-eaten doors & woodwork).
We took a truckload of Congolese women to a Woman’s Conference and they had a wonderful time, singing hymns all the way. It was lovely to see 50 women taking leadership in the meetings, giving messages homelitically prepared, discussing matters in a business-like way. And just a few years ago, they had to be shown even how to sit and stand on the platform. It is a thrill to hear them pray and they are teaching their children the things of the Lord. It is worthwhile being here just for them. Each of these women took a head of cooking bananas which is their ‘bread’. And the women who were the hostesses even washed the clothes of their visitors. There were about 12 of us missionary ladies there, but we just sat by and let them go ahead. Of course, it was planned by one of the missionaries and some of the missionaries spoke and lead out in discussions. But a few more times like this and I think they could go ahead and do the whole thing themselves.
This week-end we were out on the Basali Trail. The road was worst ever and cracked the windshield because the tree branches were too close. Sometimes there was no vision ahead, just grass and jungle but we know there was a road there as we had been there before. Hector says the next trip will have to be on foot. Hector baptized 13 believers.
We are having good communications with the other UFM stations and it is just as well as convenient to keep better track of each other. Hector and I are both well, better than we have been since coming out. Hector took treatment for filarial and since then has been much better.
Your package has not arrived yet. Pray much that it will get through OK. The Lord is able. We still didn’t get over the border for shopping as you cannot take a truck across and we have not been able to get another car. My shoes are wearing well, and will do for another two years at least! Much love, Ione
The problems with post and parcels are more than just corrupt officials and theft, sometimes the way the packages have been addressed has been misleading and Ione writes that everything should be addressed to Stanleyville and not Kole as previously. Ione finally gets news that her mother is with Lucille and is comforted in the knowledge that they are able to support each other, she writes:
it is a relief to me to know that you are together. You need each other just now, until you are both better. How I wish I could be there, too! Think of all the good jokes and laughs I am missing! I suppose you are well informed of all the crazy elephant stories we are hearing from folks who have just been home. Example: How can you get six elephants in a Volkswagen? Answer: 3 in the front and 3 in the back. I didn’t think that one was even funny, but others have gone into gales of laughter!!
However, as the tensions build, Ione and Hector give some consideration to their situation and Ione writes to her mother on 30th May 1964:
We are thinking seriously of applying for a 4-year term this time, because the extra strains of missionary life out here just now seem to justify it. I noticed that the Hanselmans have done likewise, and I am sure our churches would not object. We have not approached the subject yet to the mission, but be praying about it, and don’t make it public until we write them. That would be just two years more, and we could go home at the time Ken finishes high school.
I started out real peppy when I began this letter, but in the meantime have spent a half-day cleaning woodwork at the hospital, and am ready to be quiet now. After Hector and his helpers got the roof on, the workmen did a nice job of whitewashing the walls. Now the Bible students and I have been spending several days cleaning up cement and woodwork in preparation for the paint job. Dr. and Mrs Sharpe will be back from the mountains next week and we want them to be encouraged by finding it ready for painting. Doctor will supervise that part of it. Hector is doing plumbing just now. When Doctor comes back Hector will go to Stanleyville to spend one month working on the big building that we used to use for dormitory (at KM8). They are going to make an apartment for the Deputy Secretary (Del and Lois Carper) as the Secretary (Al and Jean Larson) will be coming back from furlough in July and there will need to be two households now. Different ‘builders’ are giving one month each for this project. If there is a job for me to do, I will go down later in the month, but for the time being I will carry on with the Bible school, women, and girls. Just now I am waiting to have the girls’ club. I wondered why there was nobody around and one girl has just come to tell me that they are doing ‘punishment’ lessons in the school. So we may have it a little later this afternoon. Ruby Gray, the maternity nurse here (Ruby joined the mission in 1962 so was a relative newcomer from the UK to Bongondza), has made some ‘apple tarts’ with a can of applesauce and wants us all to share them. So she and Bill Gilvear, the male nurse (from the UK) will come to supper and we’ll have a can of wieners, some Boston baked beans, creamed potatoes and carrot sticks. Then we will play games afterward as Saturday is games night. (Bill Gilvear was called back home to the UK shortly after this to support his ill parents).
The rebels that were in Stanleyville have been arrested, so we may not be bothered for a while. Albertville was taken over by them for a while but the government troops have control now. Some are fighting in the Kivu district and this group, if they continue on, might get into our territory. But they will have a pretty close check on any strangers who come around.
Now I will close. Had a pretty bad head-ache yesterday, but it is nearly gone today. If I can manage to rest, I don’t need to take the strong migraine pills. On Wednesday I hope to get your package when the Sharpe’s come from Stanleyville. Hope the next letter from you has news that you and Lucille are both better. Much love, Ione
And indeed, the package arrives so Ione can write on the 8th June:
At last the package has arrived! And it is in perfect conditions!! The Lord has again fulfilled His promise to “supply every need.” I did need these things and He brought every one of them to me, and the candy as well! I am enjoying the peppermints as I write this. And the nice smell of Old Spice talcum comes up to my nose when I jiggle the front of my dress!
Your ability as a personal shopper has more than met my expectations, Mother. The daintiness of the nightdresses is all my heart could desire. Everything is just right and of such nice material. Thank you very much for the time and expense you put into this package.
Hector went to Stanleyville for the rest of the month to help work on the guest house there. Both of us have been feeling real well. We had letters from all of the boys except Ken. It is taking a long time this time to hear from him. It is over a month since he left. Rethy lets out again on July 23 and I suppose Kijabe sometime around the end of July.
I may be needing some dental attention soon, some fillings, etc. We can go to the African Inland Mission dentist who looks after the children’s teeth. Or some friends of ours from Mid-Missions just over the border in French Congo (Dick and Irene Paulson). I have heard that shopping is possible near where they live, so we might try to go there.
We are not just sure of the political temperature these days. I think there is supposed to be elections this month or next. There are many parties and among them the strong group which was active at the time of Independence. The Burks who have come back to the field recently say that it is pretty much like it was just after Independence. They stayed all through those difficult days and do not hold much hope for matters to be improved. (This is probably the clue why so many remained where they were during this period of uncertainty as some felt they had departed with too much haste in 1960 and could have stayed).
Thread has been so scarce that it has become a burden for me to pass out thread in my sewing classes. They are so keen to get it that there is a struggle among the Christians women to not be greedy. I was just about out of any kind of thread when a parcel came last week from Mrs John D. Dunbar in Finch, Ontario, with 24 spools of various kinds. But this will not last long. I have been rationing out a few yards at a time and they wind it around their woolly heads.
We have not had butter for some time, but cans of Blueband margarine are available usually. And they do keep well. We have flour and sugar and just now some whole wheat we brought from Rethy, for cereal. Doctor Sharpe and wife and little Andrew (their two daughters are at school with the other UFM children) have just returned from the mountains and have brought some fresh meat from Stanleyville. They carried it in a cooler that is kept cool for a day by means of four tins of special stuff.
I spoke last Wednesday for our monthly Day of Prayer and used the story of Elka, Christ’s Witchdoctor, to show them what was happening in South Africa under U.F.M. At our church prayer meeting at 7 A.M. on Sunday morning I spoke from Jerimiah 45 “Seekest thou great things for thyself; seek them not.” The other three services of the day were taken by African Christians.
Missionaries have to be judges sometimes. Two big school boys wanted to earn money so when Hector was ready to go to Stanleyville and I knew there would be room in the truck for wood, I asked these boys to cut wood for us to send to the headquarters in Stan for their woodstove. This is always a help to them. You would think there would be no end of places in this big forest where they could cut wood without getting into trouble. But they decided to cut it in a garden that belonged to one of the student evangelists. I have paid the boys for cutting it and the boys have probably spent the money. How would you judge the case? It is important to set it right because the principal of stealing is involved. Fortunately, I can have the help of the station Pastor for settling this.
My heart is being blessed daily by the scriptures. I am learning how to pray more and more and have learned a good many verses which help to combat the evil forces which are ever near. But the Lord has His host around us and he that toucheth you toucheth the “apple of His eye.” Pray especially for my letter-writing, that it may be consistent and effective. Lovingly, Ione
On July 3rd 1964, Ione and Hector carefully composed the following letter. They did not wish to be alarmist yet they wanted to be honest. Neither did they want to deter any soon to be missionary, so they passed their letter to the Acting Field Leader, Del Carper, to read and advise them. He approved the wording:
“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 could not happen here. But for the present time, the situation in our particular area does not seem to indicate immediate trouble.
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 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 UFM stations. We also have contact with the African Inland Mission where our children attend school. There is an American Consul 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
Ione remains in a positive mood when next writing to her mother on 5th July 1964:
Hector and I are in Stanleyville helping with the building project. The large building which we never got finished when we were in charge of the children’s home is being made into apartments and guest rooms. It is a peaceful occupation for so many reports that you may have been hearing.
In spite of bad reports, we are all right, and have no reason to feel we should get ready to leave the country. The change of government may have reactions, but as far as we know we are still in favour.
There are ever so many soldiers around, but all are friendly. We try to stay away from them when they are drunk. Of course, it is noticeable here in Stanleyville more than at Bongondza. In a way we are safer at Bongondza as it is isolated. But somehow, I feel safer here in Stanleyville in spite of so much military activity. (This is a prophetic observation from Ione.) Here we have a way to get out if need be, and the American Consul is here.
Yesterday we were invited with other Americans (I still count myself as such!) to the Consulate for Fourth of July Celebrations. For a while everyone wondered if it would be possible as there was bound to be suspicion whenever a group of people gather anywhere. But we did go about 3 and come back before curfew.
They had grilled frankfurters and buns, potato salad, lemonade and it was thrilling to sing the National songs with salutes, etc. Some children of University of Stanleyville acted out several cute skits and sang. There are half a dozen lovely well-trained American children. Some of them go to school in Leopoldville.
Although soldiers were with us constantly yesterday from daylight (all night in fact along the road in their trucks) until 2 P.M. they use the front yard to collect people whose papers are not in order, and to rest and to drill, etc. Although one can’t be too sure of them, we felt no great fear of them as they were polite.
One nice-looking young man asked me if I had a song-book in Lingala. He and his friend accepted one each as a gift, and they sat down to try to sing from them. Others were reading Bibles and tracts. My job yesterday was transferring belongings from two stations over to the new building. I had a houseboy to help me. I wondered if the soldiers would want to see everything, but they didn’t. Last Monday when we came from Bongondza they searched even my purse for guns.
Yesterday they seemed to be looking for some people who had been hiding in the forest on the other side of the road. This morning when we went to church there was just one soldier left and he begged to ride into town.
No one knew exactly what would happen when Congo’s Independence was celebrated but all went off quietly. And now the coming of an exiled man, Tshombe, to Leopoldville, brings speculations of trouble. Some pro-Lumumba folk say they will not support him. And Stanleyville is pretty much the former. We cannot follow politics too well, but we listen to the radio several times a day and can at least know when it will affect us. The American Consul gave a nice talk yesterday saying that everyone of us (there were about 20 there) were under careful consideration and he admired us all greatly for our carrying on in these times.
Hector and I are well. We will go for the boys on July 20. Kenny arrives in Congo again the 30th, and will be met by another missionary and brought by car to Stanleyville.
We have often wondered where we would go if we were evacuated again. Rethy would take the children over the border as they are so close. If there is a choice, I would like them to go to Kijabe where Kenny is. We carry on our usual work, with some restrictions depending upon military activities. Today one missionary arrived from Boyulu to work with Hector and he went through 8 barriers of soldiers. So they must be expecting trouble.
“In times like these we need an anchor,” and we surely have One who not only called us to Congo but will keep us here until our work is finished. Much love, Ione
And Hector writes to his family on the 10th July:
Dear Jean & Archie,
It’s easy to let weeks go by without writing. There are so many jobs to do especially since we are spending a month here at headquarters in Stanleyville reconstructing a building into an apartment & guest rooms.
We will be having a Mission Council meeting next week for several days & then the trip up for the children. Their school finishes Thursday July 23 and opens again September 9th. We may have to wait for Kenneth either at Rethy or some place along the line. It depends on the other children we have with us. Two families are going on furlough at the end of the month so we have to be sure to get them here to Stan with us on time. If either of the other two cars can take them, we might wait until July 30th for Kenneth to fly from Nairobi to Arua.
We got the parcel from Dorthea Dunbar just this week (razor blades etc.!! sent April 21.) Everything was in good condition. Ione will be writing Dorthea.
Things are quiet around the area. Our missionary work is expanding & we have many unfilled positions. We were out in a district this morning (Sunday) for a service & the folks wanted a sure promise that we would come again soon. At the Council meeting we will have to move missionaries to fill in the gaps, since several are going on furlough & we must keep staff on each of our mission stations.
The truck is still doing well. I changed the mud grip tires around several weeks ago. They are getting worn down now but still good. – Love Hector & Ione
“Turn thou to thy God, keep mercy & judgement.” Hosea 12:6
The next part of Ione and Hector’s story has been drafted from notes made by Ione and augmented by other records made at the time. Events in Stanleyville at the time probably meant that letters were difficult to send and receipt was often erratic. Ione writes:
In July when we left Bongondza station in our two-ton truck, Hector and I were going to meet our sons who had finished their school year. We were to collect the five younger boys along with other missionary children, at Rethy Academy in northeast Congo, and bring them down from the mountains to Stanleyville. There we would wait several days for the sixth son, our oldest, Kenneth, to come from Rift Valley Academy, Kijabe, Kenya.
The dark blue Chevrolet truck (The one the children called the Ark) was always at its best when it was fitted with foam-rubber seats and canopy so that the mission children could travel in comfort from school to their stations. It resembled pretty much a ship of state as it sailed proudly into African Inland Mission’s Rethy station. Cheers went up from four score and more children.
School was out and it was a happy and busy time of loading into the truck the small cases and sleeping bags of the children assigned to us. Space was saved for baskets of vegetables, plentiful at Rethy, and much needed down on the UFM forest stations. Space was also reserved for the Chuck Davis family, to be added to the group when we stopped at Linga.
We did not linger long at Linga, but were able to get considerable baggage of the Davises into the truck. This AIM family, in Congo only since April, were already assigned to the UFM station Banjwadi, where they would work on a loan basis in the joint mission project at the Banjwadi Theological Seminary.
Charles and Muriel Davis were good travellers, as were also the little four-year-old Stevie and chubby 1-1/2 year-old Beth Ann. This complacent blue-eyed baby ate sandwiches and drank water like the bigger children and did not require special baby food or milk.
A calmness and acceptance of each new travel situation on the part of this precious new missionary family, as well as in the more seasoned group of children (by now filling every part of the truck), made it a good journey.
Three days and two nights it took, first through mountains, then grass, then forest, stopping only at the Brethren station of Lolwa and our own mission’s station of Boyulu.
Arriving at Stanleyville hot and dusty, it was good to be able to use the big driveway and grassy area at the front of Kilometre Eight to sort out luggage and transfer the little charges to the care of their parents. The Davises found transport for themselves to Banjwadi, but had to leave their luggage in the store room at the end of the dormitory behind the main building. They were glad to use these belongings later, when they found themselves again with us at the headquarters during the rebel occupation.
Some parents were able to get away immediately to their own stations with their children. But several groups needed lodging at Kilometre Eight. All available lodging space was soon taken. It was suggested that Hector and I take our family into the town where we could stay in the Hobson’s home while they were away on holiday. Hobson’s were the American family recently come to Stanleyville to teach at the new Protestant University.
We stayed at the Hobson home for one week while waiting for Ken to arrive from his school. John Arton was to meet his Nairobi-Kampala-Arua plane and drive him overland in order to catch up with us. Ken’s school was finished a few days later than that of the other five boys.
Thus, the end of July found us in the centre of Stanleyville, enjoying the comforts of a lovely city dwelling and looking about town for sacks of coarse salt and yard goods the Bongondza Congolese had paid us in advance for, items which we could bring on the truck to them.
Hector and Paul take a load of lumber up to Boyulu, the plan being to return with Ken. Whilst they are away, Ione writes:
Ken did make it to Boyulu. At the beginning of August, Hector and Paul drive up to Boyulu with a load of lumber; Ione writes:
On Tuesday afternoon, August 5th, at ten minutes before 3 o’clock, Al Larson and Bob McAllister arrived at Hobsons’ house in Bob’s Land rover.
We were told “the rebels are on the edge of town; curfew at 3! We’re moving you out to Kilometre Eight before the curfew falls.”
Packing was quickly done as we hadn’t much. By 3 o’clock we were travelling along in the Land rover, leaving Stanleyville on the north side. We saw many people rushing to get into their homes. The crowd surged, like a tide, toward Belge I, the nearest native residential sector.
As we bumped along over the Ancienne Route de Buta toward Kilometre Eight, the rebels were already marching on the streets of Stanleyville at the east side.
We passed the KM. 8 post and turned left into the mission compound.
It was 3:30 when the four boys were installed with me in an unfinished room in the big building to the left of the Home.
At 4:30 two carloads of missionaries drove in from Route des Elephants, the road coming from the east which forked into our road.
Whilst in the past, the mission house had been a relatively safe distance from the centre of Stanleyville, this was no longer the case. Ione writes:
It did not take the soldiers long to find us. The next day they drove into the broad mission entrance and introduced themselves as the People’s Army of Liberation.
I took a good look as several of the dark-skinned soldiers passed through the house from front to back. Battle dress seemed to mean no shirt, rough pants, palm fronds fastened around the head almost like a bird cage. Pieces of fur on arms or other places; a black smear on forehead and chest, which I learned later was the congealed blood of their victims.
As one burly fellow came near to the back door where I was standing, I had a desire to befriend him, so put out my hand to shake his.
He drew back his own hand and shook his head. With a stern expression in his eyes he put one finger on his lips to show me he was not to talk to me. As he went out the door he muttered, “Our boss, Mulele, is a man of much ‘matata” (trouble).
I sensed that he had been pressured into this hostile attitude. It was not like the usual friendly Congolese manner. This was the “systematized terrorization” which we learned more about later.
Less than one month after our circular went out, the rebel army was in Stanleyville; they had reached Kilometre Eight. We were under house arrest, later to be used as hostages against mercenary and paratrooper attack.
My heart was sick, but I did not realize then how sick one’s heart can be. We later saw them loot and set up guard quarters in the house across the road.
The Simbas The Swahili term for ‘lion’ that the rebels called themselves by), sometimes crazed from drink or narcotics, often visited Kilometre 8. They threatened, cursed, shot off their guns, and commandeered our possessions.
Sometime later, Ione writes:
Hector found Ken at Boyulu and the boys helped him to unload the lumber. They did some trucking jobs for Chester and then turned the vehicle toward Stanleyville. They did not get very far, for the road was already blocked by rebels. Hector and the two boys returned to Boyulu, where they were put under house arrest with the eleven other missionaries.
The political situation in the Congo is complicated, it is not just a case of dissension between political parties but includes different tribal and regional issues. The ‘rebels’ referred to here were under the leadership of General Gibenye. General Gibenye was a trade unionist and was vice president of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of the Congo in the late 1950’s. He was a supporter of Patrice Lumumba, who appointed Gibenye as Minister for the Interior but his political activities, tied as they were to Lumumba’s fate meant he fell out of power. When President Kasa Vubu dismissed Lumumba, Gibenye went too. Unlike, Lumumba, Gibenye survived and enjoyed popularity in the Stanleyville area. Unrest in the Leopoldville area, meant there was opportunity for Gibenye to oppose the government in power in the Leopoldville (Kinshasa) area. With funding from the Soviet Union, he set up his Rebel force. Although the United Nations sent soldiers up to Stanleyville to maintain law and order it was difficult. The missionaries had to contend with poorly or unpaid soldiers, dissatisfied with their lot, and a Rebel army, who were gaining prominence.
For about two weeks we were able to communicate with them by means of the radio transmitter. Even on my birthday, August 17, they were able to sing Happy Birthday and quote some verses from Proverbs 31. But when we discovered a few days later that they were no longer on the air, we knew the rebels had confiscated their transmitter.
And very shortly after that, we lost our own in the same way.
During the next few weeks we had no communication, and I didn’t know that Hector was sick with pneumonia until one night at 9 the rebels delivered him to our front door, along with the two boys, and Thelma and little Larry Southard.
It was September when by special permission of the rebel government, Hector and the two boys were brought to Kilometer 8. Hector was able to walk but was rather weak as he had lost forty pounds. The remains of his lunch gave me some idea of the quality of food he had been having. The bread was sour and made with wormy flour.
Ken and Paul didn’t say much, but I had the impression that the soldiers (these would be rebel soldiers or Simbas) had given them a rough time at Boyulu. They said that one day at noon the rebels came and ate up all their dinner.
“But Maurice, the cook, made us some more,” they were quick to add.
Ken said one night he had a bad dream and was awakened by the terrible feeling that the rebels were coming to kill them. He called his Daddy, who lit a candle. Ken said the candle was a real comfort, as he could see by the light of it that his Daddy was not far away.
Of the group of twenty-eight at the (KM 8) mission headquarters, half were youths and children. (The party at Kilometer 8 was made up of Hector and Ione Macmillan and the six boys; Bob and Alma McAllister and their three children – Bill , David and Ruthie, Al and Jean Larson and their daughter Carol, the Davies family and their two children who having made it to Banjwadi were later sent back to Stanleyville by the Simba soldiers, Thelma Southard and her son Larry – her husband Marshall had made a trip to Leopoldville for a conference and could not return, Lois and Del Carper and daughter Marilyn, Mina Erskine, Viola Walker and Olive Bjerkseth)
Bob and Alma McAllister arrived in Congo in the 1950’s with their three small children. From 1962 they were based at Ponthierville and the children went to school in Rethy along with the Macmillan boys. Like the McAllister’s, Al and Jean Larson, Lois and Del Carper and Thelma and Marshall Southard had been working with the UFM since the 1950’s.
Nine of the fourteen children should have, by this time, been back at school in one of the other two African Inland Mission schools for missionary children. Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya where our Ken was enrolled, had already started. Rethy Academy in northeast Congo near the Uganda border, where the remainder of school-age children should have been, was already evacuated and now continuing in a safer spot over the border.
Ione would have liked to see the children return to Rethy, but the journey was far too hazardous. She was even prepared to meet with General Olenga, commander of the rebel troops to plead her case. General Olenga was violent and ruthless; he is believed to have said:
“We will make fetishes out of the hearts of Americans and Belgians and we will dress ourselves in their skins.”
Fortunately, she was overruled.
Lois Carper and Viola Walker set up classes for the smaller children to keep them occupied in the mornings and Olive Bjerkseth gave French lessons in the afternoon.
Local people soon realised that there were now two midwives at Kilometer 8, Alma McAllister and Mina Erskine were called out six times to help with deliveries, reaching the expectant mothers by bicycle. The missionaries extended their work to leading meetings and worship for the women.
On one occasion, an official from the United Nations invited the children to his home a mile and a half away where they could inspect his model train set up. The boys came away with several model kits and soon started making them up, they built a whole model village under the guidance of Ken. The Macmillan construction and inventive skills had indeed been passed on to the boys.
Saturday evenings were games nights: they had table football, Snakes and Ladders, Sorry, Chinese Checkers as well as quizzes mainly devised by Hector.
Kilometer 8 was, of all the 10 stations in the UFM area, the one place where our children loved most to stay. Speaking for my own sons, that is, they remembered it as the Children’s Home from 1955 to 60. During those years they attended the Belgian school in Stanleyville, and the three main buildings, and their surrounding yard and forest which later became the mission headquarters, were just where they liked best to be.
She also wrote:
None of the children felt as limited as did their mothers. For it was the mothers who knew the substitutions which were made in the kitchen, when basic foods diminished and became non-existent.
Can you imagine nine women in one small kitchen?
It was evident that someone needed to be in charge, and the logical one was Jean Larson. Her aim, in planning menus for 28 people, was that the food should have an inviting, individual flavour.
“Sardines and rice could be served institution style,” she remarked as she rolled up her eyes about the crowded kitchen, “but how about ‘sardine pizzas’? Now, doesn’t that sound better, and let’s divide into three teams. Lois, see what you can do about it tonight with Ione and Alma to help.”
“Alma makes a delicious English ‘trifle’. Do we have the ingredients?” The preparations were made with jokes and laughter. Alma’s merry laugh being the loudest.
The making of the bread fell to my lot, as there was no one else brave or foolish enough to try baking with flour that had to be sifted three times and then was heavy. Later Muriel Davies of AIM lent a hand in this, and it became a pleasure to work together over the bread or buns or coffee cake.
In addition to baking bread, I was in charge of the preparation of the breakfast cereal. Now wheat is not a common grain in our part of the Congo. But just before the rebels came, there were several tons of cracked wheat called Bulgar, sent out from the US by the Congo Protestant Relief Association.
A number of sacks of this Bulgar were available, and one job was to spread it in the sun on pieces of 4 x 8 feet metal roofing. When the roofing became hot from the sun the black weevils crawled out and over the underside of the roofing and with some tapping, they fell to the ground. We picked out the creatures that couldn’t walk then gathered the wheat on trays and sterilized it in the oven until it was toasty brown.
The boys and Hector enjoyed grinding the wheat. They had rigged up a V-belt on a gasoline motor which also served to run the washing machine. The days we did the washing we could not grind cereal.
Actually, we had enough food, and could have held out until December if necessary. But there was just such a scarcity as to give me a healthy respect for a loaf of bread.
Being blessed with a good appetite, and a sense of humor, is an asset to any missionary. And conditions at Kilometer 8 between August and November of 1964 were such as to make good use of both!
There were enough of canned goods for the usual headquarters staff which included the Larson’s, the Carper’s and Mina Erskine. And, by careful planning, these overseas items could be stretched to meet the needs of the three more families and two single ladies who should have been only stopping a few nights on their way to respective stations.
But the bulk items such as flour, rice, sugar, fat, must be obtained the hard way. That was, to brave the rebels and by some conveyance arrive in Stanleyville where the merchants gladly would open a back door and give whatever they had free of charge. Our ‘providers’ were fathers and husbands of our flock, who suffered many indignities to do this for us. Bicycle, motor bike, the back of a pick-up truck driven by a rebel, all were among the means of our survival.
It was usually around 2 P.M. each day when we gathered to hear how the men made out, and just what they were able to bring to us. We always thanked the Lord that they returned safely. They were always hot and weary, and sometimes empty-handed. On one such occasion, Bob McAllister wiped away perspiration as he told his story.
“They took the bicycle out from under me. After they arrested me the second time, I was able to get away, and that, only by the gift of talking my way out.”
Talking his way out was easy for Bobbie. He was well known at roadblocks for greeting any soldier with the term, “Commander, how are you this fine day?”, which most often was considered a compliment and broke the tension since most were mere privates or with no rank at all; thereby increasing his chances of getting through the roadblock trouble-free.
It would seem that not long after everyone was corralled at Kilometre 8 that was a degree of freedom to move about. Ione writes:
One day when the guns were fired as the soldiers left our compound, we discovered some of our boys and the McAllister’s; going along behind them, picking up the empty shells for souvenirs. We had to stop the children from this dangerous project.
On another occasion, Ione found John engaged in conversation with a young gun totting Simba, who had befriended earlier, discussing why the boy had joined the Simbas.
The Simba’s often called looking for food; on one occasion they were looking for meat to go with their rice; Bob McAllister quipped:
“You have rice!! I only wish we had rice!!” the men departed empty handed.
On another occasion, they wanted a chicken, again Bob claimed they had no chickens, at which point a scrawny bird came around the corner. “Ah” said Bob “it’s not my chicken”. At this time, the Simba’s had a code which forebode them to steal, however, they could accept gifts. Having chased and caught the chicken, they did not wish to appear to steal it so they gave the bird to Bill McAlister (aged 12) who had witnessed the exchanges and decided to calmly walk across the compound and put the chicken in the waiting truck whilst the adults looked on in horror. There were rumours that white children were being forced to join the rebel cause and they were sure Bill would be ordered into the truck. He wasn’t.
Ione’s sense of humour does not desert her; she writes:
In my frustration I felt like the canary whose name was Joey Boy and whose account appeared in a home newspaper. His mistress decided to clean his cage and she used a vacuum cleaner. She was doing all right until the telephone rang. Then, in her haste to answer the phone, her arm slipped, and poor Joey Boy was drawn up into the pipe and finally into the sack.
When this Texas lady located her pet canary, it was a very dirty bird, but still alive. She put him under the water faucet to wash him. Then to be sure that he wouldn’t catch cold, she put him under her hairdryer. When asked later how Joey Boy was, she said he hadn’t been singing much since, but he was eating very well.
My song, like Joey Boy’s was not up to much, but I ate well!
When the pressure of the rebel occupation began to be felt in earnest, this lively group of white children must nevermore be seen playing at the front of the house. They could play at the back behind the buildings, but seldom could we allow them to venture on the dirt road between us and our ‘guards’.
Reports of young white boys being taken to the army camp frightened us enough to keep our children out of sight as much as possible.
If Saturday nights were games nights, Sunday nights were for praise: Ione recalls:
We sang loud and long, and put everything we had into it. I was so much blessed in my soul that I thought I would burst for sheer joy. Such liberty we had, and the numbers we sang were the most difficult, rousing selections with many parts and high sopranos. Songs like “He Giveth More Grace”, “I Wandered Down a Lonely Road”, “Follow Me”, “All Your Anxiety”, “Where No One Stands Alone”, and “According to Thy Loving Kindness”.
Not only was there group singing, but duets, trios, and solos. One duet I sang with Alma McAllister was, “O My Soul, Bless Thou Jehovah!” And how my heart beat as I listened to Alma’s sweet, free birdlike tones. I tried to blend so thoroughly with her that my voice would only be noticed as a shadow of the angel wings on which she flew.
Al Larson had the boys blowing horns by this time, and there were some really splendid hymns played on the trumpet and trombone. Nobody was sleepy. We almost forgot that we were in a dimly lighted room where we might have been whispering for fear of the rebels. The Lord gave us an especially happy time that night as He knew we needed it.
Two days later, they heard fellow missionary Bill Scholten had died. Ione writes:
we experienced a time of sadness which exceeded even the day that Hector died
Bill Scholten, his wife Dotty and five children were based at Ekoko, one of the largest of the mission stations. They arrived in 1962 and Bill taught in the theological college. Along with the Scholten’s were The McMillan’s long-time friend Pearl Hiles, and an Irish nurse Betty O’Neill. Fortuitously, two other missionaries were home on leave.
Although not under house arrest, the mission station was closed at the beginning of August. The Simba Rebels were very active in this region. The missionaries were able to maintain contact with their colleagues via their radio transmitters, which gave them a great deal of comfort. They couldn’t always transmit but they could hear others on air, particularly Al Larson from Stanleyville. They knew from Olive McCarten at Boyulu where Hector’s friends, the Burkes were also stationed that the situation was becoming very tense and as Ione reports, the transmitter at Boyulu was confiscated early August. The Simba’s paid many visits to the mission station, they bullied and terrorised not only the missionaries but also their houseboys, one was tied to the bumper of a car and they threatened to spear his eyes, Bill pleaded and won his release only after the young soldier had shot at Bill singeing his hair. Not everyone was spared, some Pastors were tortured, had parts of their anatomy removed before being killed. Bill accompanied the Simba’s on various excursions in the hopes that he could retain the mission car, but eventually he was imprisoned at Aketi and the car never returned. Bill was beaten and charged with being an American spy. He had filaria, diarrhoea and was very ill, the Lord having mercy, Bill eventually died, aged 33 years, in prison on the 16th September. Bill’s last words to his family as he was driven away for the last time were:
“I’ll see you in heaven”.
His son Ike, aged 7, overheard the Congolese talking about his father, but to protect his mother, said nothing to her. The incident occurred five days before his 8th birthday. Whilst Bill was in prison, the Simbas came and raided the houses for valuables and food and threatened to eat children.
Two weeks later, all the remaining missionaries were rounded up and taken to Aketi for a mock trail. When released from this ordeal, Dotty Scholten persuaded the Simbas to allow them all to remain at Aketi with Charles and Stephanie Mann and their small children Steven and Cynthia.
Betty O’Neill kept a diary of events in Aketi during this time; in it she notes that there has been bombing in her home town of Belfast – so nowhere was without its problems. Her notes are mainly about who was ill – which was most of the group. Mindful of her manners, she writes and asks permission of an imprisoned Doctor if she can use his stock of medicine to treat those who are ill; he grants her request. She also records small kindnesses that were shown, Steven Mann aged two, wandered down to the church whereupon a Simba found him and returned him to his mother. A Greek called George sent them biscuits – unfortunately, George was beaten to death in prison. Charles Mann was imprisoned but later released. A group of Catholic priests and nuns were also being held at Aketi; they offered to hold a mass for Bill and George the Greek. Dotty explained that whilst it was kind, they did have doctrinal differences, so the Catholics held mass and the Protestants held their service.
Betty is told that two white people had been killed at Banalia but there is no additional information; she knows from the radio contacts that colleagues from Bongondza – Dr Ian and Alison Sharpe and family could be there. Also held at Banalia were Denys and Nora Parry and two of their four children, Grace and Andrew, Mary Baker, Ruby Gray and Margaret Hayes.
The missionaries at Boyulu were taken to Bafwasende; in that group were Chester and Dolena Burke, John and Betty Arton and their 16-year old daughter Heather, Jean Sweet, Laurel McCullum, Olive McCarten, and Louie Rimmer. They were kept under house arrest with a group of Roman Catholic nuns. They all had their glasses, watches and shoes taken, they were reviled and knocked around but were not molested. Dolena later recorded:
I am happy to say that among the rebels there were no local people, none that knew us. Those we knew never came to molest us in any way.
Bad news came frequently after that. It was accompanied by discouragement. But it was then that we worked harder, deliberately kept normal, and held to as rigid a schedule as we could. And we tried to think of humorous stories to relieve the tension. In this Hector excelled.
Our 11-year old Stephen, once jokingly said, “They told me to cheer up, it may get worse. So, I cheered up – and it got worse!”
The children, too, entered into this spirit of blaming nobody, and went into each new phase of restrictions knowing the Lord Himself had commanded it.
When violence came our way, it was necessary to surrender our desire for immunity from suffering. There had to be some sort of understanding between us and the Lord concerning our safely. We surrendered to an unsafe circumstance.
The Simbas arrived at Kilometer 8 several times a day demanding food, using threatening behaviour. Ione writes:
They slept. They ate. They came and went. They inspected sometimes as many as five times during one day or night.
Each time they came, they were fierce and bold. Each time the missionaries faced their guns, we hoped it would be the last.
The Simbas then decided to take the men prisoners. Al Larson, Del Carper and Chuck Davis, being American, were imprisoned at Hotel des Chutes along with Dr Paul Carlson. Bob McAllister with his usual pugnacious wit made representation that he and Hector be allowed their freedom as they were not Americans. It took him a while to persuade the largely ignorant Simbas where Britain and Canada were in relation to America and Belgium but he eventually won the day.
Once the rebel soldiers had commandeered radios, they then turned their attention to vehicles. Up at Boyulu, Chester Burke frequently repaired their trucks but eventually they took all the ones on the mission station. The missionaries tried to disable their cars and trucks by removing parts or hiding them in the forest at the edge of the mission compound. Viola Walker’s Opel car had no radiator so it was towed away by a Land Rover. Bob McAllister took the piston rings out of his truck, He eventually fixed it when they heard news that relief was on its way, however the Simbas arrived before they were rescued and took it.
After Independence in 1960, the Kinsos set up a book shop in the middle of Stanleyville, from which they distributed Bibles, Bible tracts, Christian texts and hymnals. They had living quarters in the shop’s compound which they shared with Mary Rutt who helped manage the accounts and stock taking. It was an interdenominational project called Librarie Evangelique au Congo (LECO). They had a Bedford Workobus which became a travelling shop, they would load up, drive out and return with an empty vehicle. Having lived in Congo since the 1920’s Kinso and Ma Kinso were well known and well respected and allowed to remain in their home which was opposite the prison. The bookshop remained open at all times and there are stories of Rebels coming in and purchasing books, even General Olinge’s wife. The Workobus was taken to Kilometre 8 as it was thought it might remain safer there than in the middle of town.
The Kinsos were joined by David and Sonia Grant, missionaries who were stationed at Banjwadi and who ran the Bible College in September 1964. Rebels had visited Banjwadi and rounded up the American missionaries, taking them to Kisangani to be held as hostages. David Grant being Canadian managed to escape imprisonment so became the Kinso’s house guest. Chuck Davies ended up imprisoned where he was badly beaten up, however, his wife and children ended up at Kilometer 8 with all the others. Similarly, a German couple, Mr and Mrs Gscheidle who were working at Wannie Rukula, a village south east from Stanleyville also became residents with the Kinso’s. The Kerrigan’s also based at Wannie Rukula happened to be on holiday in Bunia at the time the situation worsened; they were advised to stay away and get out of the country for their own safety.
Once the Kinsos heard that missionaries were imprisoned across the road, Ma Kinso cooked and delivered food to the detainees. Those detained would send back clothes for laundering along with the empty food trays. Although they lost their Workobus, the Kinsos continued to work and take services in the various churches in the town and were largely left unmolested.
By the first week in November feeling was very strong against Americans due to the reports of Americans being among the mercenary group which by this time was actually headed toward Stanleyville.
For forty-eight hours we did not know where the men were taken. When the house boy came back from searching the town the next day, he said,
“The first place I looked was under the statue of Lumumba. I saw no fresh blood there, so I knew the men must be still alive.”
He was right. They were still alive. And before many more hours had passed a messenger came with a note telling us they were at Hotel des Chutes, along with Doctor Paul Carlson, American Consul Mike Hoyt and four of his aides; also, the two Pax fellows from the University.
With the help of Peter Rombaut, the British acting Vice Consul, Hector and Bob McAllister were released November 8, after one week in the hotel, as Hector was Canadian and Bob was Irish. The Americans were then moved to the Victoria Residence.
Reflecting on events at this time Ione writes:
Hector was fully aware of the danger. We could see it in the tenseness of his face. But it was evident also that he had no hope or desire of saving his own body. (Hector was the only one who refused to pack a bag for an emergency departure.) He had long ago consigned his old body to the worms of the earth. He often said, “Never give one small thought for what happens to my body”. This was a comfort when we were unable to give him a proper burial.
Combing his hair, I said, “Smarten up! These boys are growing up and when they leave home I don’t want to be left with an untidy old man! Then I want you to be like my boyfriend once more as we’ll just have each other”.
But he only smiled as though he knew something I didn’t know, and went on with uncombed hair.
His abandonment of the body was only exceeded by his anticipation of glory. His evident longing to be with the Lord increased as the days moved on toward the final assault which took his life so suddenly.
He ate and drank normally, especially enjoying a cool drink of water. Sometimes he drank cup after cup before his thirst was quenched. Then he would give a shout, and say,
“When I get to the River of Life, I’m going to drink and drink and drink.”
During the last few days the other missionaries noticed and remarked about a happy other-worldly expression upon Hector’s face, which never left, even after his spirit was gone.
On another occasion, Hector and Ione were discussing Adoniram Judson’s grief reaction following the loss of his wife:
“Did you know, Hector, that when Adoniram Judson’s wife Ann died, he grieved over her body until he almost went mad. He sat by the grave and worried about what was happening to that precious body.”
I looked at Hector then seriously as I said, “I would never grieve over a loved one like that.”
“No”, and Hector’s brownish-hazel eyes twinkled, “Never take one thought about my old body! Just LET THE WORMS HAVE IT!”
I shuddered when he said it, “Oh, Hector, don’t talk like that!”
But he only chuckled, as though he might rather enjoy putting his nearly six-foot frame at the disposal of a family of worms.
“LET THE WORMS HAVE IT!”
It was Tuesday November 24, 1964, and the McMillan’s were beginning their 112th day of house arrest under the rebel government. Our sleeping quarters were in the ‘hangar’, a large spreading cement block and rammed earth building which had formerly been an old furniture ‘menuiserie’.
My Canadian husband looked up lovingly at me from where he was sitting on one of the two camp cots, which belonged to Ken, aged 17, and Paul, aged 16. Hector’s long, now quite thin, legs were neatly folded back so as not to have his feet trodden upon by the troop around him. A cluster of boyish legs in khaki shorts filled the tiny aisle between us.
I breathed deeply, feeling the fresh tropically-warmed breeze through the louvered glass windows, and then sat down carefully on the sunny side of the tucked-in blanket of 13-year-old John’s bed. His cot fitted squarely into the head of 15-year-old David’s. They liked to sleep with their heads together.
Hector was checking his little notebook which contained the Bible verses claimed each day for his six sons. He observed with satisfaction that the total of verses for the past three years was now up to 6,000. His leather-bound Bible was lying in his lap. Familiarly adjacent was an over-sized worn copy of Martin Luther’s, “Reformation”, its quotations having been the highlight for several weeks in our family worship. Especially pre-eminent was the great reformer’s prayer on the night before his trial: “Do Thou, my God, stand by me against all the world’s wisdom and reason. Oh, do it! Stand by me, Thou true, eternal God!”
Hector was opening the Bible as I considered our family of boys. From Tim, aged 10, to Stephen, almost 12, around the cluster of legs and eager faces. Genesis 42:11 came to mind – “We are all one man’s sons; we are true men,” and I prayed that they might become six true men of God.
The Lord had sent us six little men in the midst of a 20-year missionary career. When it was evident that ours were all boys, Hector decided that this was because of the shortage of men on the mission field. Like the two famous missionary brothers, Doctors Don and Dick Hillis, ours would be “reared”, as well as “called” to be missionaries.
“Perhaps the Lord wants us to raise missionary men,” Hector suggested, and then set about to do just that. His tools were the “rod” and the “book”, the rod being the short stout strap which was never far away from the book, which was God’s own Holy Word.
“You can never have too many well-behaved children,” a friend had written comfortingly upon receiving the announcement of the sixth. So, I decided that they must be well-behaved. And I stood with Hector in his plan for “on the spot” obedience.
Such obedience was paying off in time of stress. The discipline required by our captors was of the “obey first, question later” type, and although the rebels’ unreasonableness extended beyond what we had taught the boys to expect, the result was an alertness and a genuine trust that the Lord would never make it too hard.
Hector sensed my thoughts concerning the boys and his warm hazel-brown eyes were misty as he confidently opened the Bible.
But before he could read the first word, we hear the sound of the airplanes.
“A plane!” Ken whispered, remembering the rebels across the road. Hector laid his Bible on the bed as we moved quietly in a group through the door, and then through the unfinished middle of the ‘hangar’, to the back exit. There we saw Muriel Davis and her two little ones, Stevie, aged four, and Beth Ann, nearly two, coming out of their room. At the same time Lois Carper and daughter Marilyn, aged 11, appeared from the other side of the bathroom.
Stepping out into the sunlight, we saw auburn-haired Jean Larson and happy little two-year-old Carol on the back porch of the main building next to us, along with Mina Erskine, Olive Bjerkseth and Viola Walker. The McAllister’s were looking skyward as they came from under the overhanging roof of their low, three-roomed brick “servant’s quarters” behind the main building of Kilometer Eight. Lastly, we saw Mrs Thelma Southard coming with an excited little son Larry, aged four, behind the single ladies. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were gazing up. The boys counted the planes – one, two, three, four, flying over Stanleyville.
“They’ will be looking up, too,” Jean Larson reminded us of our captors, guards of the People’s Army of Liberation, across the road in the house that formerly belonged to Charles Bonte, a Belgian planter.
We sought to regain our composure and went back to finish family worship.
After family worship, everyone sat down to breakfast and listened to the World News, the BBC news correspondent revealed that a rescue mission was underway. Ione writes:
We knew the world was concerned about us. But it takes water to wash dishes, and when the water supply stopped, it was our third son, David, who was dispatched to the motor house, to turn the crank which started the diesel motor pumping water from the well to the kitchen.
The hum of the pumping could be heard along with the noise of the planes which continued overhead. As Hector turned off the world news he glanced out the front door and saw rebel soldiers running toward the well. He hurried out and met them halfway, noticing how extremely agitated they were.
“Stop it!” they screamed at Hector first, and then at Bobbie, who came swiftly alongside.
“Stop what?” the men inquired.
“Stop that ‘machinie’ with which you are signalling to the planes!”
The missionaries quickly stopped the ‘machinie’ and returned to their captors for further orders. It was then they saw other soldiers coming.
One carried a rifle, another a pistol
“Cause everyone to line up in the back yard!” came the order in Swahili.
I wiped my hands on a towel and crossed the kitchen and back porch.
A rebel soldier was by this time inside and he swept everyone ahead of him as we made for the door.
“Hurry!” he shouted, and emphasized his words by tipping over a table and breaking a bottle.
He pushed Muriel Davis, and I caught her before she tumbled down the steps.
Nine women and fourteen children lined up in the back yard of Kilometer Eight. Hector and Bobbie were roughly hustled off toward the road and a waiting vehicle. The rest of us were waved back into the house. Our feet seemed heavy as we climbed the back steps and filed through the dining room into the living room of the main building. The man with the pistol followed us.
As we sat down wherever we could, we watched the young rebel who looked about 30 years old. His eyes were fierce with a glassy brightness. He went into the bedroom, emptied a suitcase and filled it with sardines from the hall cupboard. These he handed to his helper. He came very close to me as he seized the radio and passed it on to his aide.
Then, pacing nervously back and forth like the ‘lion’ that he was, the young man began to fire his pistol.
“They must be blanks,” I reasoned, as I counted four shots.
But the bullets were flying, and we were falling to the floor as we were told to do in such times, mothers covering their tiny children with their own bodies. I don’t know where all of my sons were just then. Ken and Paul were in chairs around the dining room table near to the soldier. Later, when I asked which ones were sitting and which were on the floor, Stephen said emphatically to me, “Mother, I was flat out!”
We remained still on the floor until the simba went out the back door. Alma McAllister looked from one to the other. Sixteen –year-old Paul opened his eyes and saw his older brother, Ken was contorted with pain. “Kenny’s been shot,” Paul said. He felt a trickle on his own cheek, brushed it with his hand, and discovered that he too, had been hit. A quick but silent inventory determined that the two boys were the only victims of the Simba’s close-range shooting. Alma quietly moved over beside them and assessed that while Paul’s injury was slight, Ken’s was more serious. He had been struck in the hip by a bullet that had gone through the aluminium table and bounced off the floor. Alma quickly stopped the flow of blood.
We heard shots fired outside. Hector clutched his leg. Bobbie shouted, “You’ve shot my friend!” then ran as fast as he could toward Hector. The gun was turned on him and fired. The bullet left a red welt as it grazed his forehead. He threw himself on his face and remained as he fell.
Hector, still holding his leg, turned toward the house, as he heard us crying. At this time the final bullet was sent into the back of his left shoulder. It passed through his chest and out his right upper arm. He died instantly.
Alma cleaned up Paul’s bleeding cheek and put a bandage over it. A longer time was required to stop the bleeding at Ken’s hip. As soon as this was accomplished, Alma joined Thelma Southard by the window and they observed that the rebel car was gone.
I lifted up my eyes above the window ledge in the living room in time to see a second car coming from town. It hesitated, then stopped, the rebel occupants peering out toward the path leading to the house.
One said, “Look, the white people are already dead. Let’s go on to the next place.” They drove on.
Bob McAllister was lying on the path near the road, face down. I couldn’t see Hector at first. As I crept out on the screened porch, Alma and Thelma went out the back door and around the outside of the house.
I looked through the bamboo blinds and discovered Hector very near the front steps, on his back under the nearest mango tree. There was blood on the sleeve of his light-yellow shirt. The two missionary women approached cautiously, and spoke to Hector.
“If he answers, I’ll know he’s not dead,” I assured myself, but I could tell by the white face and its expression that Hector was already gone. He did not answer the ladies when they called his name. They looked from him to Alma’s husband.
Slowly Bob lifted his head from where he was lying on his face. His arms and legs moved into position as he raised himself. As he stood I saw the red welt on his head. He came silently toward them and stooped to help the ladies carry Hector’s body into the house.
I met them at the back door and opened it. As I shared the load, Thelma turned to the others and said mournfully,
I searched Alma’s face.
“Alma, has he gone?”
She replied, “Ione, he’s with the Lord,”
Job’s words came to me so I said quietly,
“The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away – blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
We carried our precious load past Ken and put it on the bed in Larson’s room. I called the boys around him, except for Ken, who was lying on a mattress on the floor in the hall. We examined Hector’s wounds and I asked Alma if there was any way to revive him. She shook her head.
So I said to the boys, “You see your Daddy here this way, and there is nothing we can do to save his life. Now, you can cry if you wish, but I don’t think I will, because I am so proud of him, and so glad that he could give his life for Jesus.”
Stephen wiped his tears. Tim didn’t cry but felt sick. He walked into the bathroom and vomited, then came back and lay on little Carol Ann’s bed nearby.
Paul, David and John came as near as they could and sat down. The other missionaries gathered in the hall, some in the office at the end of the hall.
We talked together for a little while and then, because we all felt that more rebels would be coming, it was decided that six of the women should take the tiny children down into the forest to hide. The McAllister’s and Viola Walker stayed with me.
Feeling that we might be there for some time, Alma tried to remove the bullet from Ken’s hip. I left Hector’s body and went to help. She had only a razor blade. And the slug was deeply lodged, so she eventually gave it up. She stopped and made tea in the kitchen. Viola served cool aid to the McAllister children and ours.
During this time the youngest son Timothy, now feeling better, sat down beside us on the floor and began in his high, 10-year-old voice to quote Psalm 124:
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us; then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Ken was lying quietly, but lifted his head once and asked me,
“Mother, will you come back to Congo?”
I said, “Yes, if you boys are willing.”
At this point six or seven local friendly Congolese came into the house. I arose to greet them and showed them Hector’s body. One tall man was a local leader. Several I did not know, but I was sure they were not rebels. One couple I knew well. It was old Ndule, and his wife, Terese. Toothless Ndule was the mission gardener. Faithful for many years, he now came to pay his last respects to the man who led him to the Lord. Terese put her small arms about me and said timidly, “O, Mama!” I appreciated their bravery in identifying themselves with us.
One of these friendly folk went over to the workshop at the back of the hangar and watched Bob McAllister as he tried to make a coffin. There were boards the right length, but he could not nail them because the noise of pounding might attract the rebels. He decided to lay the two bottom boards in the hole, then the sides, then Hector’s body, then the two top boards. Now to get the hole dug. He turned to the Congolese who was watching him and asked in Swahili,
“Would you be able to dig a hole for the white Bwana’s body?”
The Congolese shook his head.
“The rebels have a strong law,” he apologized.
Then he added quietly, “But what we can’t do in the daytime we will try to do at night.”
Just then a motor was heard and all the friendly natives fled. It was not the rebels as we feared, but white mercenaries (Cuban exiles, we were told, under an American Major), shown the way by Al Larson, coming from Stanleyville to deliver us.
Al had escaped harm during a mass killing in a residential side street near the Hotel des Chutes in Stanleyville where they had been held captive during the past month. Al and several others had been moved to a house where they were under arrest. About 7 a.m., when the rebel soldiers heard the planes overhead, they made everyone line up by threes and march about 300 yards from the hotel and sit on the ground in front of Lumumba’s monument where so many executions had taken place. As soon as an armoured car arrived on the scene with paratroopers, the rebels opened fire with machine-guns. Al, Del, Chuck and Paul, who were outside the house where they had been staying, raced for a garden wall and threw themselves over the wall; Doctor Paul Carson didn’t reach safety in time and was shot in the back. Chuck was holding his hand in an attempt to pull him over the wall.
The rebels, realising they were beaten, fled. About 15 men, women and children were killed and 40 were wounded.
Once Al was safe his main objective was to get to Kilometer 8 which was outside Stanleyville. Initially there was some reluctance to make the journey but a group of Cuban Mercenaries who had fled Castro’s regime were prepared to take the risk and ride out with Al.
Al, accompanied by David Grant and the Cuban mercenaries made the journey to Kilometer 8 and hastily got everyone into the back of the pickup truck, jeep and trailer. They were not allowed any luggage not even handbags and there was no time for a burial for Hector; Ione could only hope that the Congolese faithful to the mission would undertake this for her. As they moved off, rebels fired at the vehicles and once again the women shielded their children. Only one mercenary was wounded. He struggled to get his ammunition off his shoulder so his companion could use the bullets, Ione came to his assistance for which he was very grateful.
Once inside Stanleyville’s borders, the shooting stopped and the trucks headed straight for the Airport. Once there, a stretcher was found for Ken and they all boarded a C-130 plane to Kinshasa (Leopoldville).
Before I boarded the plane, a Catholic priest thrust into my hands a loaf of bread. Having not one other possession, I accepted the bread gratefully. I took it with me as I sat with my back against the side of the plane. Ken with the bullet still in his hip, lay beside me. Paul, a piece of bullet in his cheek, sat with his brothers and fellow missionaries across the plane, which was crowded. Greeks, Indians, and Belgians were sitting on the floor or lying on stretchers.
I examined the bread, and thought, “This lovely crusty loaf is large enough to feed my six boys.”
But rations were being handed out, and a cup of water was going around. I did not need to divide my bread, so I looked for a wrapper with which to cover it and give it a little dignity. Scarcities at Kilometer Eight had given me a healthy respect for a loaf of bread.
There was nothing at hand with which to cover it, but as I turned my head I saw a plastic sack folded behind me on the wall. I took it out and read its label, “For sickness.” It had not been used, so I unfolded it and put my bread inside.
I tucked my precious loaf of wrapped bread under my arm, and was just beginning to enjoy a feeling of security, when someone shouted, “Stephen’s sick!” So I took out the bread and handed the sack to my son. The unwrapped loaf went back under my arm again.
When we arrived in Leopoldville the bread went with me and Ken into the ambulance and to the hospital and on up to the operating room. The other five boys were with friends at the Union Mission House. Paul didn’t need hospitalization. The bullet (fragment) was taken from his face a few days later. I stayed with Ken, but was not allowed to go into the operating room.
I stood by the door of the emergency operating area, with the bread still under my arm.
I was thinking, “Now if I had a cup of coffee, I would have some of this bread.”
Just then a Flemish lady stepped up to me and said in French:
“S’il vous plait, Madame, would you like a cup of coffee?”
I answered her in my poor French, “Oui, merci beaucoup, Madame, I would like to have a cup of coffee, but I do not wish to go far, for my boy is in this room.”
She assured me that her house was just a short distance down the road, and that she would bring me right back. So I went with her. As we were walking up the steps of her lovely home, she turned to me again.
“And now, Madame, while I am preparing the coffee, you shall have a hot bath.”
I was a bit alarmed at this announcement, and afraid that she would keep me from getting back to Kenneth. Then the thought came to me, “I wonder whatever made this dear lady think that I needed a bath!”
For the first time that day I looked down at myself. I saw that my dress was torn and dirty and there were spots of blood on it.
I agreed to have the bath, and found the lady had put out fresh clothing for me. Even a folded pocket handkerchief! I drank her coffee, and ate some of her bread. Then, picking up my loaf, I went back to the hospital.
I tucked the bread in Ken’s closet, but he didn’t need it, as they provided bread for him in the hospital. He finally gave it to the maid to carry out. “They give us bread here, Mother,” he explained. We never needed that loaf, but I believe the Lord let me carry it all that while in order to show me that He would never deprive us of our daily bread. Nor has He.
From the plane, Mrs McAllister had taken our five younger boys along with her three children to the Union Mission House (UMH). Her husband went with me in the ambulance with Ken to the Danish Red Cross Hospital. And it was Bob who waited near Ken during the time I was being refreshed at the home of the Flemish lady. When I returned to the hospital, I noticed the dried blood on Bobbie’s white shirt and suggested that he, too, go and wash. He shook his head. “I’m not ashamed of Hector’s blood,” he said stoutly, and went to obtain transport for us to the UMH.
It was after nine o’clock at night when Bob’s wife and other ladies met us at the door and we partook of the warm food saved for us. Then Alma and Bob and I tip-toed into a large room where eight children were sleeping; five McMillan’s and three McAllister’s.
I expressed surprise at finding McAllister’s’ little Ruthie dressed in a nightgown, as we had left Stanleyville with no baggage.
Alma reminded me that our youngest son Tim had put his small suitcase in just the right place at Kilometer 8 for a mercenary to see and bring it to the Stanleyville airport. Tim had claimed and guarded it until arrival at the UMH, when he opened the case and finding his pajamas inside, he offered the top piece to Ruthie.
“Tim’s top is Ruth’s nightgown,” Alma twinkled. “Tim is wearing the bottom! The other fellows weren’t so fortunate!”
As we stepped outside the room again, she told us briefly of our missionary friends who were killed that day. Phyllis Rine’s (an American missionary with the African Inland Mission) bullet wound was slight but she bled to death before help came. Across the river from Stanleyville at Rive Gauche, Cyril Taylor (a New Zealander working with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade) and Muriel Harmon (a Canadian missionary working with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade) were shot. In Paulis, Jay Tucker (an American missionary from the Assemblies of God Church) was blinded with a broken bottle and then with his arms tied behind his back and linked to his ankles beaten slowly to death.
Those under house arrest in Aketi were freed by mercenary soldiers, taken to Bumba from whence they flew to Kinshasa, when they disembarked a mercenary approached Dotty Scholten and gave her a fistful of notes, he said:
“Ma’am, we’ve had a whip round.”
The planes were also heard at Bafwasende, the rebels fleeing the mercenaries arrived in a state of agitation. The male captives which include Hector’s friends Chester Burke and John Arton were marched out and shot. The women which included a group of Roman Catholic nuns were marched out from a toilet where they were being kept as prisoners. This group was divided in two: Betty and Heather Arton, Laurel McCullum and Jean Sweet were in one group; Louie Rimmer, Olive McCarten and Dolena Burke were in another. The Roman Catholic sisters were divided into the two groups. One Simba tried to get Heather into the opposite group but she clung to her mother. The group with the Artons, Laurel and Jean were propelled through a jeering crowd to the river bank where they were speared to death.
Heather Arton was my best friend and roommate at Kilometre 8, in 1960, she had left Congo in an Oxygen tent, desperately ill. Her parents had gone back to Congo, leaving her in Boarding School in England. Friends and family clubbed together to raise money for her to visit her family for the summer holiday. She and her parents never received any messages whist on her journey into Congo and thus she became trapped with her parents.
The other group had a reprieve, they huddled together with heads bowed in prayer and arms wrapped around each other’s waists refused to move. Eventually, they were marched several miles to another village and housed in a hut. They were kept here for three weeks, from their prison they watched helplessly as mercenary soldiers drove past. Then a Simba came and took the three UFM missionaries out of the hut, he explained that he had been at a protestant mission school and that he was saving their lives so they could save his. Before they were rescued, they were subjected to looking down yet another barrel of a gun wielded by another Simba, who suddenly turned on his heel and disappeared into the forest, minutes later another jeep of mercenaries came by and they were rescued. Like the others: Olive, Louie and Dolena were flown to Kinshasa and onto London. They arrived on Christmas Eve 1964.
The planes flying overhead on the 24th November were seen and heard in Banalia and tensions there grew. Margaret Hayes and Mary Baker were the first two UFM missionaries taken to Banalia at the beginning of November, arrested by Simba rebels. The Simba rebels had been frequent visitors to Bongondza, Bopepe and Bodela –three other mission stations just as they had at Kilometer 8; Aketi, Boyulu and Banjwadi. They took food, raided the personnel for anything of value and were particularly interested in radios and transmitters. Many of the Simba rebels were children aged 11 years and upwards and had little education unless they had been fortunate enough to attend a mission school. Mary and Margaret were made to walk to Banalia, however, progress was slow and eventually they were given bicycles and allowed to cycle. All along the route, the jungle drums told of their progress and villagers came out to see them, some openly weeping to see their beloved ‘Mama’s’ treated in this manner. At Bodela, the Parry family were rounded up at 6.30 am. Grace who was only 8 was forced to carry a case on her head, was tormented, hit and bullied throughout the day as they made their way on foot the 18 miles to Banalia. It took the Sharpe family and Ruby Gray four days to travel the 70 miles from Bongondza to Banalia. The villagers at Bopepe were initially allowed to cook and deliver food. Although they were tormented and treated cruelly by the Simbas, there were others who tried very hard to be supportive despite intimidation and beatings for helping the missionaries. Ian Sharpe and Ruby Gray spent the next few days working in the hospital at Banalia, operating on wounded Rebels among others. On the 25th November, Margaret Hayes was taken back to Bopepe to care for a wounded Simba soldier. The villagers at Bopepe received word that Simbas fleeing the fighting in Kisangani were heading their way, Margaret and Mary Baker’s pet dog ironically named Simba were taken into the jungle and hidden.
On the 25th November 1964, Simbas fleeing from Kisangani arrived at Banalia! They were incensed to find white people still alive. Dr Ian Sharpe who was half way through an operation on a Simba soldier was marched out of the hospital and down to the river. His patient was shot on the operating table. Denys Parry, Ian and a priest were made to strip before they had their throats cut. The children were similarly marched to the river, stripped and machine gunned down in front of their mothers and then the women were hacked to death with machetes. Mary Baker was the last to be massacred. Margaret writes that at 4pm that day, whilst in hiding in the jungle, Mary’s dog Simba started whining and cried in pain for half an hour before laying down at Margaret’s feet.
The Mercenary Soldiers only reached Banalia mid-December because the roads there from Stanleyville were virtually impassable. When they arrived, all that was found was blood stained clothing and documents down by the river and in the house where they had been kept.
Dr Ian and Audrey Sharpe and their three children; Jillian, Alison and Andrew
Dennis and Nora Parry and their two children Andrew and Grace
Robina (Ruby) Gray
It was presumed Margaret Hayes, who worked with Mary Baker had also been killed but Margaret survived, having been taken away to provide medical care to the Simbas. She would not be discovered for some months to come.
As the survivors arrived and congregated in Leopoldville, they slowly pieced together all the stories and their experiences. No one knew of the massacre at Banalia and it did not make worldwide news until it was discovered in December, unlike the deaths of Paul Carson and Hector McMillan.
Ione met up with Dolena Burke who had been her Matron of Honour when she married Hector, they had both lost their husbands. Chester, Dolena and Hector all attended the same Bible school in Three Hills, Alberta. They had shared so much – joy and sorrow.
Ione writes that in Kinshasa (Leopoldville) they stayed at the Union Mission House and that various missionary families in the area invited them into their homes for meals and fellowship. Ione writes:
After dinner in a Congo Inland Mission home, a Congolese pastor joined the group. His kind, dark eyes brimmed with tears as he heard us tell in Bangala what happened at Kilometer Eight. Then he spoke,
“Madame, you have my utmost sympathy. Young men, I am sorry for the loss of your father. And I trust the son in the hospital will soon recover. I shall never be the same again after hearing your story. It is evident that Christ is sufficient for you in this trial. And this has kindled a great fire in my heart. I shall go forth now with a strong message. The light will shine and the fire will burn, as I go to my countrymen. I’ll tell them that truly Christ is real, and sufficient for every need. Truly, Madame, the flame in my heart burns hot and I want to go to my people and tell.”
As I left that home there was a warm satisfaction in my heart and assurance that other Congolese would be enkindled to shine for Jesus during the dark years ahead.
On Sunday 29th November, a memorial service was held in one of the churches. Alma McAllister gathered all the children who had been living in Kilometer 8 to run through a hymn they had often sung – Onward and Upward written by EE Hewitt, which was their contribution to the service.
The family stayed in Kinshasa two weeks, waiting for Ken’s wound to heal sufficiently for the journey to the States. Ione writes:
I kept on feeling that it would have been easier to die for the Lord than to live for Him and face up to the reality of heading up a family of six boys. But before I became anything else to those boys I needed to be the one to lead their family worship. I asked Tim if I might borrow his Bible again.
“I don’t mind lending it, Mother, but you know there are seven of us trying to read from one Bible, and it would take less time if we had a few more Bibles.”
So John and Stephen and I went across the street to the Bible Society, where Mrs Martinsen, who had been a missionary in China and had fled the Communists) received us cordially.
She was sympathetic, but could not promise Bibles for all, as they were very scarce just then. She could give us three. Mine was inscribed with careful hand on December 4, 1964, the following:
“With the Compliments of the Bible Societies of the Congo, and the prayer that you may know the rich blessing of all consolation and strength for future days from the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” II Cor. 1:3-7.
Signed, A. C. Martinsen.
Besides sitting at Ken’s bedside, the family visited the Congo Protestant Relief Association looking for clothes. They didn’t find much that was suitable, however, the American Consulate helped them shop for suits and raincoats. Ione writes:
Collecting toothbrushes, combs, and simple medicines seemed to require a maximum of effort, and the matter of inoculations and replacement of passports would have been out of the question for our tired brains, had not we been so wonderfully cared for by our mission leader, Mr Ralph Odman.
Each day the missionaries and helping friends met for prayer for those still missing. There was not really much time for retrospection, nor for thoughts of the future. But as I sat with Ken at the hospital and watched his progress, I was aware of my feeling that this thing was not a catastrophe, but was planned of God…. I was confident that no matter what happened in the future, right now it was worthwhile.
On the 28th November 1964, after speaking to her daughter for the first time in a long while, Leonie Reed writes:
Dearest Ione, Kenny, Paul, David, John, Stephen, and Timmy:
It was so very wonderful to hear your voice this morning. And Timmie’s too. I was sorry to get you out of bed, though. I tried to get you in the night here, and talked with the operator at two a.m. this morning. But the lines were held up and were not free until 8:30 a.m. this morning. I didn’t know where you were staying, so told the overseas operator to try the three places: UFM Mission Home (if there was one there), the American Embassy or the Canadian. I am glad they persisted until you were reached.
We have been shocked and filled with sorrow over all that has happened. But we do know the Lord is over all and must have a purpose. I can understand your bereavement at this time, but I will never know what my darlings have endured and suffered. This old world is getting towards the end of time and Congo’s troubles may invade the United States at any time. Communists are everywhere, and because of them being in many places in the US there is a real downward trend. The command for the Belgian paratroopers to land came from the President of the United States. Many churches wired the President to intervene, and Pastor Bob Shelton and Agnes also sent one from the First Baptist Church. I was thankful for President Johnson’s interest and help. He provided the planes, most of them, and equipment for the paratroopers.
We have prayed for you all for months as well as the whole church in Pontiac and thousands of people in many churches all over the country. And I feel it was the same in Canada. I can’t help but feel that Hector’s ministry is not ended. His influence will continue and bring many more missionaries into His blessed service. You, Ione, were called to be a missionary because of John and Betty Stam’s martyrdom, remember?
There was so much more I wanted to ask you over the phone, but time did not permit.
I am sorry that Kenny has had to have more surgery. I do hope he can be able to leave Congo in a week. Did David get hurt, too? What happened to Paul?
Since talking to you I have thought I would like to meet your plane in Montreal. I am free to come if you want me to. Florence Damant (Hector’s sister) phoned me long distance and said she wished I could come there again. So, I plan to phone her tonight and tell her about talking with you and suggest that I come there. If you can possibly let her know when you will be coming, I will try to fly up there in time to meet your plane.
Irene Pierce in West Palm Beach has been interviewed twice on TV, Florence said. Also, folks have taken up a collection for you there. I have been interviewed by three newspaper men. Your family picture was on the front page of the Pontiac Press. I was interviewed by the Associated Press men of Detroit.
I will write to Kenny in the hospital. Hope he gets it.
It is wonderful to be able to write to you again. It has been so long since mail could reach you.
I have been worried about clothing that is warm for you all. It is cold in Canada and the States in this section. Can you get some things in Leopoldville? Love and prayers to my precious ones, Mother and Grandmother
Eventually, Ione gets to write to her sister Lucille on the 8th December 1964, with plans for her home coming:
We leave Leopoldville December 10, go to New York, then Philadelphia where Ken will be in another hospital for a few days ‘check-up’ (on his mastoid which has caused a little trouble) & other check-ups. Then Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and finally Detroit. Will wire you the dates. Ken’s wound is in the seat, quite deep but not in the bone. He had stitches taken out today. An ambulance will take him from hospital to plane & he’ll have a wheel chair in New York. He is weak but cheerful & out of danger. Paul had a piece of bullet taken out of his cheek. We will have to catch up on all the news when we see you. We have enough clothes to get to Philadelphia & they have more there. We came away from Stanleyville with only what we wore! Love, Ione
On the day before the family were due to fly home, Hector’s brother Archie, aged 58 years died in hospital.
Ione and her six boys arrived home on 11th December 1964: The Newspaper, Standard Free Holder records:
Mrs McMillan and her six sons arrived in New York City early today and flew to Montreal after learning of the death of Hector’s brother, Archie MacMillan of Avonmore.
Reflecting back on her experiences, Ione writes:
I let my mind journey right back to the days when as a young girl I felt just like a princess inside. The happy comfortable sensation of being someone special to somebody! Mary Baker had it, too. I remember one time she said that when she went visiting, she always felt inside that her friends would be glad to see her. And they always were! And I found that I could recapture still that thrill of “being someone special”.
Mother used to tell me, “Walk like a princess; lift up your head!”
And then as the Lord took hold of my life, I became a princess for Him. My Saviour led me into His service and to the Congo as a missionary. He gave me a precious husband who encouraged me to just go right on feeling like a princess inside. His earlier letters testified to his acceptance of this status.
I felt like a princess inside when I fingered the lovely wedding dress as it hung in the centre of the cabin of the barge on the River Nile on the way to our wedding in Juba, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Temporary dismay came when I discovered that the netting of the finger-tip veil was eaten by insects and required a multitude of mending’s. But eventually rosettes and lover’s knots covered neatly each mending place and the wedding was performed November 27, 1945.
The wedding dress was laid away in the same trunk out of which came the layette for the first baby and six times we prepared for a girl and received a boy!
By the last time the last little boy was born in 1954, we were wondering what our children thought of our continual service to the Lord in Congo. It was well and good for us to go so far, but what about the poor children? Did they really want to go back in 1955, as we proposed to do?
I had approached the older 7-year-old, Kenneth, and reminded him, “You must remember, Ken, that when we live in the Congo we seldom have ice cream cones. No cornflakes; powdered milk instead of fresh. Do you really want to go?”
His answer was a rebuke to me. “But Mother, didn’t the Lord call us?”
Then the Lord was leading the children, too. And whatever might come could be accepted by them as not strange. The bullet in Paul’s cheek, Ken lying so pale and quiet on the bed brought this verse to me that morning in Kinshasa. In the UMH bedroom that very day, Paul had said confidently, “See this, I Peter 4:12 – Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”
“Thinking it not strange” really started at Kilometre Eight. But at Kinshasa I was sure that the boys were putting it into practice.
And when the General Secretary visited Ken in the hospital, I was not surprised to hear my oldest son say, “When I finish high school next year, I want to go to Bible School and then medical college. After that I will come back to Congo.”
Twenty-three years seemed a long time to get ready for one day when our Daddy would become a martyr. But the martyrdom would not be the end, only the beginning of the harvest which would come in the Congo.
I could say with Samuel that, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” and go from the help of the past to the hope for the future.
From those first few days in August occupation until the day of liberation on November 24, I often thought of that verse in Psalms 37, “I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay tree.” The rebels were like the Chaldeans about whom Habakkuk prophesied. They marched through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that were not theirs, to catch men in their nets and gather them in their drag.
It was in the perfect wisdom of God we arrived in Stanleyville just a few days before the town fell to the rebel forces, and experienced some of the horrors and fears of the organized take-over and the annihilation of many of the capable Congolese in the area.
Many people see only the acts that took place, but some will see in my account the ways of the Lord. Psalms 103:7 says, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel.” And we as a family look at it as a reasonable thing planned of God, for the fulfilment of His will.
I remember feeling that it was fearful enough to make a good story. And the thought also came that perhaps none might live to tell it. But of our group, all survived except my husband, and Hector became the martyr of Kilometre Eight.
As a martyr’s widow, one of the many now, I am glad to tell what it was like to me at the time Hector was killed.
“Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman who was a widow” (Luke 4:25, 26).
Like Elijah’s widow woman, I feel singled out of the Lord to write about this significant occasion, and how our family was prepared for it, and affected by it.
When we left the homeland to become missionaries, we were never guaranteed safety from physical harm. When we offered our lives to go so far for Jesus, there was no limit as to how far we might have to go. If suffering and death were included in His call, then we would surrender any desire for immunity from this.
All that last week, Hector was aware of our desperate circumstances and pled with the Lord for deliverance, but never for himself. He behaved himself as one consigned to death, and yet in his manner was a great anticipation of the glory that awaited him. We all in a sense surrendered ourselves for whatever might come.
We counted our lives not dear.
And having submitted to this yoke of restraint and subjection, we found it padded with grace and love.
There came the moment of yielding to Divine Sovereignty when death and wounds came to our family. At this time we began to see the personal implications of the Lordship of Christ, and restfully submit ourselves to the sovereign will of God.
How far can we go in claiming the protection of God because we are His people? Are we to be excused from involvement in the present world disorder, and should we not be prepared to surrender our own imagined immunity to suffering for the greater glory of God?
We must be agreeable to be involved in the long-term purpose of God, while recognizing the short-term powers of the devil.
So, on November 24, when the rebels came with violence, I found it possible as in Habakkuk 3:16, to be “resting in the day of trouble”. When the shooting was over and two sons were wounded and Hector lay dead, it was Psalm 124, quoted by Tim, that comforted.
How far shall we go? Is a question which has come to me in recent months. How far should we go in our effort to win people to Christ? To me, it was never a question of whether or not I should go as a missionary, but HOW FAR CAN I GO? Just how far can I go in my lifetime, with the strength of my body for Jesus? He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
When I offered my life to the Lord for missionary service, I felt that I should go just as far as I could with the Gospel. I tried to get to China first. When John and Betty Stam were martyred, I offered my life to take their place. But the door to China was closed. Then a call came through my church, First Baptist, in Pontiac, Michigan, from a missionary doctor in Congo. He wired, “Send us a nurse and a helper.” Our pastor’s wife, Mrs. H.H. Savage, came to me and said, “Since you can’t go to China, why don’t you consider Africa? We have found the nurse, Miss Pearl Hiles; now we need the helper.”
I went to the Bible for guidance and found in the Acts the verse, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” Then I offered my life and became the helper that the Westcott’s were needing. I helped the doctor’s invalid wife and 3 children for 3 years and then on the next furlough became officially engaged to Hector McMillan.
We were newly married in the Congo, and as our family increased, we were faced each furlough with the big problem of going so far to our field. It is always an effort to go a long way and every time we were getting ready to go to Congo it was a tremendous job.
Adjustment to pioneer work in the heart of Africa came harder to me than to Pearl Hiles. I thought it was because I was from the city and she was from the country. It was a challenge to me, but it seemed the hardest jobs always lasted the longest.
Whenever I went to the Jenkinson’s (Kinso’s) for encouragement (and I never failed to receive it from this dear couple!), they always warned be to not set my heart on my trials being soon over.
“These things last a long time,” they cautioned.
So, I set my heart to endure.
Later, I applied the same principle of endurance to marriage, to raising children, to restrictions imposed by the rebels, and when at last in the homeland, to being detained in comfortable America when I longed to return to Congo!
I remember when in 1955 we were going out with our six children and there was a good deal of packing yet to do. And furthermore, we did not even know to which station we would be assigned. Hector sighed, and said, “I feel just like Abraham, who “went out not knowing whither he went.” I sighed, too. Then eyeing the work yet to be done, I added, “And we have a Lot, too!”
We decided then that if churches were willing to send out such a big family as ours, and to such a far-away place as the Congo, then we as missionaries should not mind going as far as we can in giving of ourselves and all that we possess in His glad service.
How much should a missionary give in his glad service for Christ? Paul’s words in II Corinthians 11:23 indicates he felt danger to be part and parcel of the command to GO YE. He said, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more. In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft,” He said in effect, “I have something to be proud of.” Proud of what? Proud that Christ counted him worthy of suffering for the Gospel’s sake.
Some of the things we do may seem foolhardy, but we are not asked to be foolhardy, but simply HARDY…Ready to go where and when He sends.
But I didn’t think the rebels would go as far as they did.
When they tipped a table – we went ahead of them.
When they pushed Muriel Davis, I held her up.
When they smashed a bottle – I got out of the way.
When the young man with the pistol fired – we went to the floor.
But you never know how far you can go until you have tried.
It’s not far to the altar of consecration; it’s not far these days to go to a Bible school; it’s not far to a mission board; and some mission fields are not far away. But just how far would you go for Jesus? And there’s no turning back. “If any man draw back My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” Proverbs 24:10
“Some men die in battle, some men die in flames,
Others die by inches, playing their little games.”
December 11, 1964 (An excerpt from a news article in the Standard-Free Holder…)
Clad only in borrowed summer clothes, the six McMillan boys and their 51-year old mother returned to Canada yesterday from the Congo. The boys’ missionary father was slain by Congo rebels 18 days ago.
Grinning shyly, the boys embraced their grandmother, Mrs Leone Reed of Pontiac, Michigan, a travelling missionary, and then left by car with other relatives and friends for their father’s former home at Avonmore, Ontario.
The boys range in age from 10 to 17. Their father, Rev. Hector McMillan, a missionary with the Unevangelized Fields Mission, was killed when Belgian paratroopers attacked rebel-held Stanleyville.
Mrs McMillan declined to talk about the political situation in the Congo.
She said she regards the death of her husband as a price to be paid in establishing Christianity in the Congo.
“It’s a high price, but it’s worth the cost,” she said calmly.
She said she had no regrets about the 23 years she spent as a missionary in the Congo.
“I hope sometime to go back.”
Two of her sons – Kenneth, 17, who still limps from a bullet wound suffered when his father died, and Paul, 16 – plan to be missionaries as well and are prepared to return to Congo.
Mrs McMillan, a white-haired woman who gave birth to four of her sons in the Congo, said she has no immediate plans except to visit Avonmore, then go to Philadelphia, where the Unevangelized Fields Mission has its headquarters, for Christmas.
A sad occasion awaited them at Avonmore – the funeral today of another member of the McMillan family, Archie McMillan, 59, who died of a heart attack Thursday. He was a brother of the slain missionary.
They will attend a community memorial service tomorrow at Avonmore in tribute to Mr McMillan. People of the area have contributed more than $2,000 to assist the family and have collected clothing for the boys.
When they disembarked from the aircraft, they smiled at awaiting relatives and patiently posed for photographers.
Inside the terminal, a waiting passenger glowered and muttered: “Why are they so happy? I wouldn’t be happy if someone had just killed my father.”
Mrs Reed, a travelling missionary who plays musical bells at church services, turned to the bystander and said softly:
“When they’re killed in the name of the Lord, it’s different. He’s not gone, he’s with the Lord.”
The man didn’t appear convinced.
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