King's Business - 1966-03

women on the station. The treatment the rebels gave him and his worry about the others wore him down to the extent that it was a question of whether he would survive. On Sunday, September 13, malarial chills con­ vulsed him unmercifully. It was that day that the rebels chose to arrest him. The order arrived from rebel headquarters in Stan to arrest les merce- naires. The local Simbas knew there were several missionaries in the area. Not distinguishing be­ tween the two words, they began to gather up les missionnaires who wore white robes and beards and those who, like Scholten, did not. They thought themselves extremely fortunate to find one that Stan wanted who not only fit the description but was an American as well. Parting from his family was difficult for Bill Scholten. “ I’ll see you in Heaven,” he said. He was then led away to a truck that would carry Catholic priests as well as himself to the town prison at Aketi, sixty miles from the Ekoko station. Late that Sunday the rebels stopped the truck at a checkpoint in Aketi. The barrier blocked the road in front of the home of Charles Mann, a mis­ sionary colleague of Scholten’s. Mann, on seeing that a foreigner occupied the cab of the truck, approached it. To his great surprise he found that the foreigner was his friend. “Why?” he asked on learning their destination was prison. “Why you, Bill?” The malaria attack had diminished for the time. Scholten was better able to view his situation with some detachment. “ They want mercenaries,” he replied. “ I sup­ pose they think I’m one. And, too, I’m an Ameri­ can. And then there is the matter of the radio transmitter. There’s one on the station . . . out of commish, but a transmitter nevertheless.” He said to Mann not to worry. “When they find I’m in no political affair they’ll turn me loose.” But he was not released. Sunday night he lay on the dank floor of the poorly ventilated prison, sicker than he had ever been. Monday morning the prisoners were herded into a truck for the trip to Stan. But Scholten was too sick to go. The others drove away and he stayed in his cell.

Hard-bitten mercenary soldiers wept when they came across evidence at the Banalia ferry slip that eleven Unevangelized Fields missionaries had been slain by Simbas. Monday and Tuesday nights he was allowed to sleep under the stars in the prison courtyard. But all the time he suffered from chills or fever. On Wednesday morning, the 16th, a violent spasm shook his body. It was the last to torment him. Only his jailer saw him die. In a note intended for his wife he had written: “ Dearest Dorothy, the Lord will not allow you to go through more than you can bear.” The rebels had told him that they planned to kill him by degrees in the presence of his family. They named many kinds of torture methods. But they had cheated themselves of their brutish fun. By contemptuous treatment o f his sickness they killed him; in dying he found escape from having to face more than he could bear. By secret messenger the word of his death reached Stanleyville. The news brought great heavi­ ness upon the folk at Kilometer 8. A1 Larson, his penetrating eyes devoid of their usual sparkle, looked his severest because he had a troubled heart. “ Bill is the first of our group to go, the first of us to pay with his life for answering Christ’s call to Congo,” he said quietly and almost without emo­ tion. “He may not be the last.” From Stan the news moved east to Bunia. An older missionary couple who were able to carry on their work there in spite of rebel occupation slipped a message across the border into Uganda. But outside Congo the world paid small heed to Bill Scholten’s death. To be reasonable, hadn’t the age inured itself to suffering and death so long as the ugly business stayed out of easy sight? Who far away in America or in Europe could really see the dangerous plight of the alien residents of north­ east Congo? Very few, it seemed, either saw or cared. The people who were trapped in rebel territory and who felt that their situation deteriorated almost daily, began to ask, “What must happen here to make the outside world see and care?” Excerpts from Chapter 5 of O u t o f T h e J a w s o f T h e L i o n by Homer E. Dowdy. Used by per­ mission Harper & Row, Publishers.

Stanleyville, a busy river port of 200,000 population, possesses a tropical charm. Square building at left is the hotel where three American missionaries were held by rebels.

MARCH, 1966


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