King's Business - 1966-03


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by Homer Dowdy

I oward the end of August, the American gov­ ernment insisted that its citizens leave the troubled areas of Congo. The warning was too late, how­ ever, except for persons living in border areas not yet controlled by the rebels. A number of families of the Africa Inland Mission heard Larson’s final broadcast and one by a veteran of their own mis­ sion; on the strength of their urgings they evacu­ ated their stations, which were nearer to the Uganda and Sudan borders than most Protestant missions in Congo. An Unevangelized Fields Mission family, the Richard Siggs, escaped with the AIM mission­ aries. The tall, athletic young missionary from Florida was to be useful in other ways at this time. He and Mimi, his amiable wife, served as house- parents in Rethy Academy, the school for mission­ ary children. Sigg’s work also consisted of doing whatever needed doing at the moment. Right now there was a need for someone to embark on a daring mission. In the Uganda capital of Kampala, Sigg re­ ceived a telephone call from a representative o f the United Nations. “We want a man who knows the Congo mission stations—where they are, who’s on them,” the offi­ cer said. “We leave tomorrow morning to carry out a plan of evacuation. Will you go?” “Yes, I will,” Sigg agreed. The following evening a charter flight set Sigg down in Bunia, a tin-mining town at the edge of the mountains in east Congo, four hundred miles from Stanleyville. Tshombe’s national troops still held Bunia, though the rebels pressed hard for a break-through. Sigg debarked warily. Having heard that the field was closed to normal traffic, he wondered if the town was about to fall into rebel hands. “Hey, Dick!” a voice called from the edge of the strip. Sigg looked up, recognizing a missionary friend. “Well, Mert Wolcott,” he exclaimed, and went over to shake hands. In the next ten minutes the two caught up each other on their news. Wolcott, a member of the Immanuel Mission, served at the village of Nyonkunde not far from Bunia. One of Congo’s largest religious presses operated there. “We haven’t evacuated yet—not all of us,” Wol­ cott said. “The families are gone, but Bill Deans is

still there; so is our nurse . . . and me.” William Deans was the American director of the station. The two compared notes, found that the same rescue project had brought them both to Bunia. The next morning they kept a rendezvous with officials of the United Nations and the United States. Captain Glantz went over the rescue plans with Sigg and Wolcott. The matter ended by Sigg’s flying to Leopoldville and Wolcotts staying behind with Glantz. They drove in Wolcott’s car to the station and picked up Bill Deans and the Nurse. Then all flew out to Uganda. The day after they evacuated, Simba warriors fanned through area area the missionaries would have taken. The mission at Ekoko was one of the largest among the UFM work. William and Dorothy Scholten and their five young children resided there, as did Pearl Hiles, a nurse from Pennsyl­ vania, and Betty O’Neill, also a nurse and midwife from Northern Ireland. Though a new missionary, Scholten had made many friends among the Congo­ lese. He taught in a school that trained African teachers, a job which as a university graduate he was well equipped to do. He communed easily with his students, always keeping hot a sociable pot of coffee. He conducted a unit of the Flambeau, a Boy Scout type of organization. He liked nothing better than to spend vacation periods trekking with his students through the dense jungle. At the time of the rebel invasion, tall, thin Bill Scholten was thinner yet, for he was a sick man. He suffered pain from malaria, parasites, and dys­ entery. In this condition he found the Simba inspec­ tions hard to take. One time a rebel soldier fired off five pistol shots close beside his throbbing head. Sometimes they made him and the women sit long hours in the blazing sun. The Simbas not only took away his carryall, but because they were generally poor drivers, they often forced him out of a sick bed to get behind the wheel and drive, and this usually at night when he was the sickest. Fre­ quently a trip took him at constant gunpoint to some distant place; likely the day had dawned before he was allowed to crawl back into bed, seem­ ingly more dead than alive. Always he was greatly concerned over the wel­ fare o f Dorothy and the children, of whom the old­ est was a boy of seven, and of the two unmarried



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