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J~"7 -f ^ JP-7 / -* 

na^.^ uxarence Wilbur, 19O2- 

1 Gurers roi- God. Harper 

266 Hl?aci $3-75 

Kail, Clarence Wilbur, 19G2- 

Adventurers for God. Harper 

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Adventurers for Qod 

"Of all the breeds of brave and gallant 
men and women, Christian missionaries 
are to me the most heroic and the most 
unaware of their heroism." 

Thus does the author of this baker's 
dozen stirring accounts of great deeds 
explain the drive that sent him to the 
far parts of the earth, as today's foremost 
reporter of Christian activities. Having 
spent the greater part of his life as editor 
and writer in chronicling all kinds of 
adventures for God, he has chosen those 
persons whose lives and work contain the 
most dramatic incidents of the hundreds 
and even thousands that might be told 
of the Christian missionary enterprise. 




Copyright 1959 by Clarence W. Hall 

Printed in the United States of America 

All rights in this book are reserved 

Grateful acknowledgment is made to The Reader's 
Digest Association, Inc., for permission to use the fol- 
lowing articles, which originally appeared in some- 
what different form in The Readers Digest: 

The Man Who Conquered Devil's Island, copyright 
1947 by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. The 
Man Who Founded A People (The Gospel of The 
Plow) ; Unconquerable Kagawa ( Servant of the Poor ) : 
copyright 1951 by The Reader's Digest Association, 
Inc. He Brought My People Back to Life (Bolivia's 
Most Unforgettable Character); God's Angry Man 
(One Man Against ' Apartheid'); Medicine Man on 
The Amazon; Through Gates of Splendor: copyright 
1956 by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. The 
White Man Comes to Shangri-La (The Valley that 
Time Forgot); He's Given Sight to 100,000 (He Gave 
Sight to 100,000); Skipper of The 'Morning Star'; 
Isle of Hope in Hong Kong ( Chinese Refugees' Best 
Friend): copyright 1957 by The Reader's Digest 
Association, Inc. Two Thousand Tongues to Go, copy- 
right 1958 by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 

PHOTOGRAPHS: page 68, top by International News 
Photos, bottom by The Salvation Army; pages 135- 
138, 140 by Robert Halmi; page 206, top by Wide 
World Photos, bottom by Religious News Service; 
page 240 by Nate Saint, copyright 1956 by Sam 
Saint, Attorney-in-Fact 

The Library of Congress catalog entry for 
this book appears at the end of the text. 

To all those thousands 

of brave and gallant men and women 

who have left the comforts and safety of home 

to respond with high-beating hearts 

to the Divine command: 
"Go ye into all the world . . . to every creature? 9 




II HE GAVE SIGHT TO 100,000 42 












Photographs appear on pages 35-34, 67-68, 
133-140, 205-206, 239-240 

All stories contained in this book were condensed in various 
issues of The Reader's Digest between March 1947 and the pres- 
ent. For permission to print them herein, in their original longer 
form and with up-to-date material added, the author is indebted 
to DeWitt Wallace and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders and co- 
editors of The Readers Digest, without whose unfailing en- 
couragement, editorial stimulation, and abiding interest in Chris- 
tian missions these stories would never have been written. 

'Through Gates of Splendor/' written by the author from his 
own on-the-spot research, supplemented by material supplied by 
Abe C. Van Der Puy, was first used as a book-length feature in 
The Readers Digest (August 1956). Later, a book by Elisabeth 
Elliot, using the same title with the magazine's permission, was 
published by Harper & Brothers. 

"The Gospel of the Plow," which originally appeared under the 
title "The Man Who Founded a People," was written in collabo- 
ration with Dr. Listen Pope, Dean of the Divinity School, Yale 

Certain portions of the Introduction are taken from the author's 
own text in Protestant Panorama, published in 1951 by Farrar, 
Strauss & Young. 

Acknowledgment is made to the following published works 
which served as helpful background material in the preparation 
of the author's original articles: Naught For Your Comfort, by 
Trevor Huddleston (Doubleday); Kagatoa, by William Axling 
(Harper); The Lady Was A Skipper, by Maribelle Cormack 
(Hill & Wang); Devtfs Island, by Charles Pean (Hodder & 
Stoughton); The Omi Brotherhood in Nippon, by William Merrell 
Vories (Omi Brotherhood Publishing Department). 

10 Acknowledgments 

The author also gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assist- 
ance given him by the devoted staffs of the various denomina- 
tional and interdenominational mission boards in opening their 
files, responding to endless questions for information, and check- 
ing the stories for accuracy before they were put into print. 

Of all the qualities with which mankind is endowed, 
none excites in us deeper admiration than courage. Especially 
when that courage is completely selfless, dedicated to a cause 
higher than one's own search for personal happiness or gain. 

The stories comprising this book are dramatic examples of 
that kind of courage. They were gathered through years of 
roving the remote corners of earth, on behalf of The Readers 
Digest, as part of that magazine's never-ending hunt for 
article subjects whose exploits on behalf of their fellows lift 
us out of ourselves and serve to remind us that we too can 
make our lives sublime. 

That all the stories are of Christian missionaries is not ac- 
cidental. As the author has stated elsewhere, "Of all the 
breeds of brave and gallant men and women, Christian mis- 
sionaries are to me the most heroicand the most unaware 
of their heroism." Because they are so "unaware," and usually 
so completely disinterested in publicity, their stories too in- 
frequently get told. 

Until quite recently, it must be admitted, the popular con- 
ception of the missionary, even among people who should 
know better, was a caricature. To those who had not ob- 
served these "adventurers for God" at close range, the mis- 
sionary was often regarded, when he was thought of at all, 
as a dedicated but rather dull soul who hustled off to some 


j2 Introduction 

far region, at the beck of what he conceived to be the voice 
of God but was more likely the urgings of his own malad- 
justments, to take his frustrations to a people naive and un- 
inhibited, forcing their splendid bodies into Mother Hub- 
bards and their minds into theological strait-jackets. 

But that immature judgment of missionaries has recently 
undergone some sharp revision. We are belatedly coming to 
see that, as a group, few others have done as much to bring 
our topsy-turvy world back on balance, to scatter abroad the 
tremendous boons of our democratic way of life, to impress 
upon the world our fundamental beliefs in the basic dignity 
of all people and their rights to education, modern medical 
science, and a chance at a better life for all men. 

No one volume, nor a dozen volumes, could hope to cover 
the wide range of activity by missionaries around the world. 
The stories in this book are merely representative of the broad 
sweep of the Christian missions enterprise. 

Geographically, their settings are the remoter areas of the 
missionary frontier such as the shut-in Shangri-la of Dutch 
New Guinea's mysterious interior; the exotic and scattered 
islands of Micronesia in the South and Central Pacific; the 
wild North- West Frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan; 
the tragic Devil's Island penal colony in French Guiana; the 
brooding reaches of the unbelievably vast Amazon River; the 
turbulent veldts and crowded cities of Africa; the tangled 
jungles of Ecuador and Peru. 

Denominationally, they represent both the larger and 
smaller church groupings: Methodist and Baptist, Presby- 
terian and Congregational, Episcopalian and Anglican, Sev- 
enth Day Adventist and Christian and Missionary Alliance; 
Salvation Army and Quakers. In their work, the subjects' 

Introduction 13 

denominational affiliation is not important. They are both 
laymen and members of the ordained ministry; that dis- 
tinction too is unimportant. 

Vocationally, these missionaries are "specialists" in the fin- 
est sense of the word and as such axe indicative of the 
widened field of modern missions which today have room for 
trained people of almost every kind of talent or interest. They 
are skilled doctors and surgeons, educators and linguists, 
agriculturalists and anthropologists, architects and business 
administrators, social scientists and aircraft pilots, techni- 
cians and navigators of sea and air. 

These, like the thousands of other present-day missionaries 
they represent, are inheritors of a great tradition, contributors 
to a mighty record of achievement a record still only half 
appreciated and but slightly understood by the world to 
which they have given so much. 

From Britain and America, during the past century and 
a half, has flowed a thrilling tide of men and women 
into every non-Christian land, eager to cast their light into 
superstition's darkness, eager to burn themselves out for 

William Carey heard the far bugles calling while at his 
cobbler's bench in England, and he closed his shop door for- 
ever that he might open the Gospel door to India. David 
Livingston heard the bugles while tending a spinning jenny; 
they pulled him to his feet and projected him into the depths 
of darkest Africa. Robert Morrison heard them while peer- 
ing at a map of the Orient in his study, and was immediately 
off to traipse the China hinterland and bring a Christian 
literature to a million peasants. Adoniram Judson heard them 
while reading a sermon entitled "The Star of the East," and 

14 Introduction 

he soon was burning up a hundred Burma roads with the 
Gospel torch. John G. Paton heard them while roving the 
pleasant pastures o his native Scottish highlands, and 
promptly set sail for the turbulent tropics and the New 

These are but five of a number that is legion. You can call 
the roll of the intrepid pioneers for hours and never exhaust 
the list. Some lighted out for the distant horizons with only 
the Bible under their arms and a call to preach in their 
hearts; some with medical kits and lancets in hand; some 
with tools over their shoulders and bags of improved seeds in 
their pockets; some with degrees in pedagogy or medicine or 
agriculture or divinity; some with nothing save a spirit 
burning to "further the Gospel" merely by living with and 
humbly serving the people. But whyever and wherever they 
went, they left footprints as long as the stride of God. 

Americans more than any other people, and out of all 
proportion to their numerical strength, have been missionary- 
minded. That mission-mindedness is part and parcel of their 
pioneering heritage. The American takes to the frontier, 
wherever it is, with the habitual drift of a man gravitating to 
his natural environment. It was the missionary impulse, in 
large part, that brought the colonists to America in the first 
place. Both the 1606 and 1609 Virginia charters made plain 
that one of the chief reasons for settling these shores was the 
propagation of the Christian faith. That impulse put mission- 
aries in the van of every wagon train off to the westward- 
moving frontiers, sent them out to meet immigrants, induced 
them to build churches and schools in immigrant settle- 
ments, in big cities and on prairies, in mining towns and 
lumber camps. For a century and a half, they did not go 

Introduction 15 

abroad; their focus was held to the new continent. There 
was plenty to keep them busy. 

It was early in the nineteenth century that American 
Protestants began to focus their eyes on the far frontiers. 
While still hurling the tentacles of their faith into every area 
of American life in need of evangelization, they began reach- 
ing out to other lands. 

Out they went to India and Africa, whose immensely 
rich resources had for centuries tempted foreign plunderers 
. . . out to lands where the bodies of animals were sacred 
and men's bodies cheap, where gods were wood and stone, 
and where misery rode the back and poverty ached in the 
stomach and hopelessness cried in the heart . . . out to 
China and Burma and Malaya and the islands of the sea 
. . . out to the outcaste, the untouchable, the diseased, the 
blighted. Almost every local church formed its missionary 
society. Pennies and dimes and dollars began dropping into 
missionary boxes, clothing and food and books into mis- 
sionary barrels. Denominational leaders got out their big 
maps, began to plan world strategy. 

Out they went and out they continued to go right up to 
the eve of Pearl Harbor. World War II temporarily halted 
the march, but it brought to blazing light what had been 
happening in the world's far corners where those immigrants 
for Christ had gone. American GI's, fanning out all over the 
world, found some amazing Christians in some amazing 
places. Back from the war fronts, they sent letters to loved 
ones telling tales that seemed tall even to supporters of 
foreign missions. Their lives had been saved by mission- 
converted ex-cannibals. Their broken and fever-ridden bodies 
had been transported over the Owen Stanley ranges by 

16 Introduction 

"fuzzy-wuzzy" stretcher-bearers with "a look on their faces 
that makes you think that Christ was black/' They had been 
fished out of the sea, spirited to safety, nursed to health and 
returned to their comrades by natives who couldn't speak 
their language but could sing their hymn tunes. Following 
the blazing path of war, members of the U. S. armed forces 
came upon Christian communities distinguished by a charac- 
ter of life sharply contrasting with the life around them, 
met everywhere Bible-carryng and hymn-singing Christians 
of varied hues where atlases and military intelligence had 
indicated only savages. 

The GI's ran into men of the stature of Albert Schweitzer, 
one of the towering figures of our time, or any time, a man 
of tremendously varied talents, content to lose himself in the 
lives of Africa's black men. They saw men like Sam Higgin- 
bottam, who has brought to India his immense achievements 
in Christian agriculture, and Emory Alvord who in thirty 
years had changed the face of Southern Rhodesia by the ap- 
plication of his "Gospel of the Plow." They came upon the 
monuments of Christian healing left by great medical mis- 
sionaries like Gordon Seagrave, "Burma Surgeon," whose 
triumphs over disease were such as to make Hippocrates rise 
from his Grecian grave and applaud, They followed hard 
upon the trail of men like globe-girdling Frank Laubach 
who, with his "Each one teach one" program, is generalissimo 
in the world crusade to stamp out illiteracy among the 
countless millions on this planet who can neither read nor 
write nor, therefore, vote. 

The revelation was not alone to servicemen. Franklin D. 
Roosevelt wrote before his death: "Since becoming President, 
I have come to know that the finest type of Americans we 

Introduction 17 

have abroad are the missionaries of the Cross. I am hu- 
miliated that I am just finding out at this late day the work 
of foreign missions and the nobility of the missionary." 
Wendell Willkie went junketing around the earth during 
the war, and came back to tell of the great "reservoir of good 
will" America has in foreign lands, thanks in large part to 
missionary enterprise. 

By no means the least contribution made by foreign mis- 
sions is the large part they have played in making Ameri- 
cans global-minded, preparing them for the day, now come, 
when this nation would be the free world's leader and its 
hope. We tend to forget that, if indeed we ever fully realized 
it. As Kenneth Scott Latourette has pointed out, "Even 
those most active in the world- wide missionary enterprise are 
frequently unaware of how deeply it has molded the Ameri- 
can outlook on the world." 

During the many decades when millions of American 
church members were making their gifts to "the mission half 
of the church envelope," listening to addresses by mission- 
aries on furlough, reading of mission projects through church 
periodicals, studying missions in church schools, something 
pretty important was happening to the American mind. It 
was being keyed to the fact that peoples beyond the seas 
and beyond our ken were important. More, they have taught 
Americans to think brotherly to think about the world's 
peoples in a way that had nothing to do with commercial or 
political exploitation. 

What this has meant, and will mean in the future, nobody 
can possibly assess. But one would be both unfair and un- 
realistic if, in auditing the reasons for America's growth from 
fierce isolationism into world responsibility, he did not ring 

^8 Introduction 

with red pencil those long years when Christians have been 
preaching the infinite worth of man, irrespective of color or 
race, and when Americans by the millions have been acquir- 
ing a universal sympathy, a universal conscience, through 
their interest in and support of world-wide missions. 

And, mind you, this mighty "foreign aid" program is now, 
and always has been, carried along with no support from 
the government, no draft upon the taxpayer's pocketbook. 
By contrast with the billions of government money poured 
into underdeveloped countries, the funds that Christians 
have had to work with are peanuts. Yet compare the results! 
Miserly the pennies that have been put into the missions 
enterprise, you say? You are right, of course. We should have 
poured in millions, billions. But what miracles have been 
wrought all across the world by even the pennies! 

Another accomplishment definitely traceable to the mis- 
sionary enterprise one that is vital to Christianity's future 
in the worldis this: it has taught Christians everywhere the 
meaning of that jaw-breaking word "ecumenicity." Especially 
has it been taught where the importance of Christian 
brotherhood and co-operation is needed the worst: among 
America's great proliferation of religious bodies. Workers out 
on the world's far-flung fringes, in a sort of reverse missionary 
movement, have helped "Christianize" their home churches. 

No one traveling to far parts and witnessing at first hand 
the operations of various mission bodies can fail to be struck 
by the spirit of co-operation and unity that exists among 
them. The farther you get out onto the frontier, the more 
Christian brotherhood you find among groups of even the 
most diverse doctrinal differences, Dog-eat-dog denomina- 
tionalism might be tolerated, though deplored, on the home 

Introduction 19 

front. But out on the mission field it is fatal to both the 
eater and the eaten. While "competition" among missionary 
groups has not been banished entirely, one sees far less of it 
abroad than at home. 

It was at a missionary conference at Edinburgh in 1910 
that the spirit of ecumenicity, long practiced by experienced 
missionaries in the field, was finally recognized as a high goal 
for churches at home as well as abroad. The challenge was 
first thrown out by Episcopal Bishop Charles H. Brent who 
declared, "The world is too strong for a divided Church!" 
Since then the strides toward unified planning and co-opera- 
tion, particularly among Protestant churches, has been im- 
pressive. Christians everywhere today are singing with new 

In Christ there is no East or West, 

In Him no South or North, 
But one great Fellowship of Love 

Throughout the whole wide earth! 

For that and a great deal else you can thank the foreign 
missions program. 

To a broader understanding of that program, and of the 
kind of people who make it dynamic and inspiring, this 
baker's dozen of stories is sincerely dedicated. 

Adventurers for Qod 

Missionaries in "Shangri-la" 
Dutch New Guinea 


HP"! \7 Til HTH x. HP 17 
1 Jhie V alley I Jhiat 1 ime Jr orj 

Christian missionaries, I confess, fascinate me. Of all 
the breeds of brave and gallant men, they are to me the most 
heroic and the most unaware of their heroism. Thus when, 
in 1956, I heard that a small contingent under the aegis of 
the Christian and Missionary Alliance had quietly gone into 
the forbidding interior of Dutch New Guinea, to seek one of 
the world's most recently discovered tribes, I knew I had to 
follow them. 

On a small airstrip at Sentani Lake, outside Hollandia, New 
Guinea, I found Dave Steiger. He was changing the spark 
plugs of a single-engine Piper Pacer, with which he services 
the "supply line" to remote mission stations. 

Dave regarded me doubtfully. To him it was incredible that 
anyone would fly halfway around the world, then insist upon 
penetrating into the unexplored fastnesses, just to observe 
men of God going about their job. He scanned the sky, then 
shrugged. "Weather's apt to close in over the ranges. But 
Til chance it if you will." 

Loading emergency supplies, we took off, flew for an hour 
over impenetrable jungle and swamps, then rose sharply 
toward an 8000-foot pass into the Snow Mountains. These 
jagged, towering peaks, some of them rising to 16,000 feet, 


24 Adventurers for God 

have isolated the interior for centuries. As we approached 
them, fog swept in suddenly, blocking out landmarks, clos- 
ing in behind us. For another hour we floundered about, first 
trying to get above the clouds, then beneath them. 

Finally, through a temporarily clear space in the fog, we 
sighted a river far below. Dave spiraled down, got under the 
ceiling and followed the river tumbling through deep gorges. 
And suddenly our goal, the Grand Valley of the Baliem River 
called "Shangri-la" by the missionarieslay beneath us. 

I gasped in surprise. The 40-by-lo-mile valley, studded 
with neat villages, resembled New England more than the 
last stand of Stone Age man. Everywhere I saw thatched 
houses, whose gardens were surrounded by stone walls. Rim- 
ming the valley were plunging gorges, giant waterfalls, ter- 
raced fields. 

When we let down on a small airstrip, we were im- 
mediately engulfed by hordes of natives. Their dress con- 
sisted principally of fancy headgear of fur and feathers, neck- 
laces of shells, boars' tusks in their noses. Their bodies were 
smeared with pig grease, their cheekbones daubed with col- 
ored clay. 

From their midst emerged a rangy American. Erect and 
dignified, he looked as though he should be behind a busi- 
ness desk, or perhaps lecturing a college class, instead of 
leading one of the most perilous missionary expeditions of 
modern times. 

This was Einar Mickelson from California. 

It was on April 20, 1954, that Einar Mickelson set out by 
plane for Shangri-la. As he was about to take off, a Dutch 
official said to him: "I wouldn't go into that valley with any- 

The Valley That Time Forgot 25 

thing less than a regiment of soldiers. Hanged if I can under- 
stand what drives you missionaries!" 

Mickelson just grinned. "No need to be hanged/' he re- 
plied. "You could find the answer in Christ's commission to 
those who try to follow Him: 'Go ye into all the world.' Or 
even in Kipling. He once spoke, you remember, of 'some- 
thing lost behind the ranges, lost and waiting for you 

The "something lost" was some 60,000 Danis, a race of 
Stone Age people whose very existence was completely un- 
known until recent years. Among the world's last undiscov- 
ered tribes, they had dwelt for untold centuries in their shut- 
in Shangri-la, undisturbed by the march of time, as un- 
aware of the existence of a "civilized world" as that world 
was unaware of them. 

First word of their lush and beautiful Baliem River valley 
had been brought out in 1938 by Richard Archbold, an 
American explorer. Confirmation of Archbold's discovery 
came from three survivors of a U. S. Army plane crash in 
1945, when for 50 days newspapers headlined their dramatic 
rescue by glider from the floor of the valley. Then it slipped 
off the front pages and became again "the valley that time 

But it was not forgotten by Einar Mickelson. Any news of 
any people anywhere unreached by the Christian Gospel 
was, for him, a mandate spelling "Go!" Since 1938 he had 
made himself an expert on New Guinea's remoter regions, 
founding for the Christian and Missionary Alliance extensive 
mission operations in the Wissel Lakes area, among the 
Eapauku and Moni tribes. Now he began bombarding his 
movement's New York headquarters. Few salvos were 

26 Adventurers for God 

needed: the Alliance specializes in pioneering where no mis- 
sionary has ever been. 

Obtaining an entry permit from the Dutch colonial gov- 
ernment was not so easy. On its maps the whole Dani area 
was ominously marked "uncontrolled." In its scant files the 
Danis were described as crafty and treacherous, cruel and vin- 
dictive. But Mickelson was undeterred. "The Gospel makes 
even the savage friendly," he said, pointing to the boons his 
missions had brought to the tribes around Wissel Lakes. 
When, in the summer of 1952, permission was finally 
granted, the Dutch government said, "Understand, you're 
on your own!" 

Mickelson had already made two attempts to reach 
Shangri-la overland, and each time had been stopped by 
hostile tribesmen. Realizing the futility of this approach, he 
asked the C&MA for an amphibian plane, an expensive re- 
quest. The problem was finally solved by taking it to the Al- 
liance membership, and the funds, mostly in small gifts, 
were quickly subscribed. 

As his missionary companion on the first flight in, Mickel- 
son chose Lloyd Van Stone, a strapping young Texan who 
had fought through New Guinea with the 1st Cavalry Di- 
vision. "I don't know how we'll be received," Mickelson said 
to Van Stone, "but there's no turning back now!" Van Stone 
grinned, quoted a GI axiom: "We have to go in. We don't 
have to come back." 

At the amphibian's controls was Al Lewis of Hamilton, 
Ontario, a former Canadian Air Force ace. Also aboard were 
three Kapaukus, converts of the Wissel Lakes mission: a 
pastor named Elisa, his wife Ruth and their two-year-old 
baby. Mickelson's reasoning: since the Kapaukus were a 

The Valley That Time Forgot 27 

family, their presence would assure the Danis that the inva- 
sion was a peaceful one. 

Lewis let the plane down on the Baliem River. In 20 
minutes the five passengers and supplies food for 30 days, 
tents, lamps, radiowere unloaded, and the plane headed 

Mickelson and Van Stone set up the radio and called then- 
base at Sentani Lake, 150 miles away but centuries removed 
in time. "We're here!" they exulted. "Thank God!" 

But where were the Danis? For a whole day none ap- 
peared. Did the weird silence indicate fear, or hostility? 

The next day, while still getting their camp into shape, 
the missionaries heard a cry from Elisa, the Kapauku. They 
looked toward the distant hilltops to see, limned against the 
sky, a long line of stalwart black men, their spears held up- 
right like so many pales of a picket fence. 

But not until the following day did the Danis approach 
the camp. Then, abruptly materializing out of nowhere, a 
large group was before them 15-foot spears extended, stone- 
headed battleaxes on their shoulders, bows and arrows in 
hand. Suddenly their leader gave a hoarse order, weapons 
were lowered, and the whole group surged forward with 
smiles and cries of "Nahp! Nahp!" the Dani welcome. The 
missionaries repeated the cry with genuine relief, joyously 
credited the friendly reception to the "volumes of prayerful 
intercession for us by faithful groups back home." 

The Danis were insatiably curious. To them, the color of 
the missionaries' skin was an enduring novelty. They crowded 
close, pinching the white faces and arms, rubbing them al- 
most raw to see whether the "paint" would come off. The 
white man's gadgets, too, were an endless fascination to 

28 Adventurers for God 

people who had never seen metal of any kind, nor a wheel, 
nor glass. Given small mirrors, they gazed entranced at their 
reflection, marveling that their "spirits" ( which they believe 
to exist in the ether outside their bodies ) could be captured 

When the missionaries put aluminum sides on their shelter, 
the Danis spent hours dragging their spear ends across its 
corrugated surface, creating a cacophony of sound. Glass win- 
dows were equally fascinating; from morn till night the tribes- 
men stood like dark, living statues, staring in. When a small 
generator was rigged up and the first bulb lighted, they 
shouted, "They've got the moon in their house!" 

In turn, the missionaries marveled at the Danis* intelli- 
gence and ingenuity. With only stone tools and sharpened 
sticks they had managed to create well-irrigated gardens, 
lushly full of yams, taro, spinach, beans, cucumbers, bananas. 
From vines, bamboo and lumber split by stone axes they had 
built ingenious suspension bridges, sturdy thatched houses. 
They had worked out a currency system using the little 
cowrie shell, brought in from the coast in some long-forgotten 
era. One shell purchases a man's labor for a half day; two 
shells, a bunch of bananas; three, a pig. 

Family life followed ancient patterns. A man could have 
as many wives as he could peaceably assemble and support 
-or induce to support him. Wife-stealing was common; 
amorous men hid in the brush surrounding gardens, seized 
their prey as the women came to work. If caught, the at- 
tacker paid the offended husband a pig, or negotiated a wife 
swap. Adultery, however, was solely a male right. A man, 
married or single, was unrestricted in his relations with single 
women. But a woman was subject to severe punishment from 

The Valley That Time Forgot 29 

her husband for any similar conduct. Dani women resort to 
the most violent extremes to induce abortion. 

The missionaries found many grisly customs. One was to 
cut off a finger as an expression of mourning for a close rela- 
tive, and cast it onto the funeral pyre. When fingers were 
gone, after multiple sorrows, the tips of ears were sacrificed. 
Few women in Shangri-la were without mutilated hands or 

Cannibalism was not uncommon, nor burial alive of the 
aged. One day the missionaries, having missed an ancient 
Dani, father of the mission's cook, were horrified to learn that 
he had been put in a hole, covered up to his neck and left 
to die. 

Feasts, with nightlong ceremonial dancing, celebrated 
every special occasion, helped to drain off Dani exuberance. 
Missionaries had to learn which feasts to attend and which 
to avoid. On one occasion, while learning, they were nearly 
compromised. Shortly after the first mission house had been 
erected, a group of Danis insisted upon marking the event 
with a "tern" dance, described as a mild sort of flirtation 
waltz between unmarried young people. The missionaries 
were about to agree when, almost accidentally, they dis- 
covered that the dance always wound up in a free-for-all 
sex orgy! 

And religion? The Danis had no gods, no forms of worship. 
They feared only "evil spirits" inhabiting the air, trees, rocks. 
Nothing supernatural was good, only evil. And evil spirits 
often vented their spleen against the living with visitations 
of sickness. 

Of all the missionaries* devices for creating confidence and 
friends in Shangri-la, none was so immediately successful 

30 Adventurers for God 

as medicine. Mickelson had been in the valley only a short 
while before word of the white man's healing magic spread 
from tribe to tribe. Trained in first aid, he and his colleagues 
spent much time treating wounds and sores, patching up 
broken bones and halting infection with needle-injected pen- 
icillin. Once introduced to the "shiny thorn" (the hypo- 
dermic needle), the Danis clamored for it, often inventing 

The missionaries firmly believe that treating the sick, apart 
from its humanitarian good, "will help us to introduce Him 
who heals broken hearts." During my visit I watched as 
Tom Bozeman of Daytona Beach, Florida recently come to 
the valley treated a group of Danis for yaws, great open 
ulcers that eat away flesh like leprosy. After each insertion 
of the needle he put his hand on the patient's head and 
said something in the Dani language. I asked what he said. 
"Just a simple little prayer/' he replied. "Something like: 
'Lord, this man has a sore body. You are the Master of 
health. And You love this man. Touch him and make him 
well/ " Do they understand? "Perhaps not now, but some 
day they may remember and thank the white man's God, 
not us," he replied with moving sincerity. 

Shortly after coming to Shangri-la, the missionaries' medi- 
cal knowledge paid off in an important way. A young brother 
of the most powerful chief in the area, Ukumhearik, fell out 
of a tree, broke his leg and suffered a concussion. For days 
the boy was near death, while the witch-doctor vainly per- 
formed his rites. 

Ukumhearik, a regal potentate with 20 wives and 10,000 
followers, sent for Van Stone. "He is going to die, white 
Tuan/' said the chief. "You help save?" Van Stone sent the 

The Valley That Time Forgot 31 

witch-doctor away, set the broken leg, hovered over the lad 
for days, then persuaded the chief to let him take the boy 
by plane to the hospital at Hollandia. Within two weeks the 
missionary was back, bearing a completely healed youngster. 
Ukumhearik never forgot the good deed. His memory of it 
was, quite literally, a lifesaver to the missionaries on a 
number of tense occasions. 

The witch-doctor, who had been a troublemaker for the 
mission, deemed it wise henceforth to be helpful too. One 
day when Van Stone was stricken with malaria, he came to 
the mission house. "Me help sick Tuan," he said, beginning 
his incantations. Van Stone interrupted the mumbo-jumbo 
to say, "I'll be all right. Jesus will heal me." The witch-doctor 
went on waving his leaves and twiddling his fingers above 
the missionary. "Me help Jesus!" he grunted. 

When someone from the outside observed that "the whole 
Baliem venture is suspended by two pretty slender threads 
Dani friendship and one lone plane," one of the mission- 
aries replied quietly, "Our dependence and confidence have 
always been in Him who liangeth the world on nothing/ " 

The slendemess of that second thread was demonstrated 
when, for a period of five months, the plane could not land 
because of low water in the Baliem and could fly in only 
once every three weeks to drop supplies by parachute. It 
was even more tragically proved one day when, in attempt- 
ing a supply flight during bad weather, Pilot Al Lewis missed 
the pass and crashed into a cloud-hooded peak. The loss of 
pilot and plane was a blow; for weeks the mission was iso- 
lated until another plane, land based, could be obtained and 
an airstrip built 

Dani friendliness too, it early became plain, was a brittle 

32 Adventurers for God 

and often twisted thread. Their moods could change in a 
flash from easy amiability to truculence to blood thirst. 
Such perverse switches were usually sparked by either their 
inbred love for inter-tribal fighting or some inadvertent viola- 
tion of their ancient taboos and superstitions. 

The missionaries had not been long at their first rough 
camp when they discovered that they had settled in a sort of 
no man's land between two warring tribes: the people of 
the valley and the hill-dwellers. One night in July 1954 the 
hill people raided the river gardens to steal sugar cane. The 
next day, while a few visitors from the hills were curiously 
poking about the mission camp, they were suddenly am- 
bushed by river warriors. Arrows and spears flew about the 
camp; two hill-dwellers were killed, another fell while flee- 
ing. Stunned at first by this violence, Van Stone grabbed his 
shotgun, fired into the air, frightened the attackers away, 
then rushed up the hill down which 300 hill warriors were 

When the leader advanced on him, spear poised, the mis- 
sionary said quietly, "You have your spear, I have mine. 
Here's what mine can do!" and fired a blast that tore away 
the branches of a tree. The warriors retired in sulky haste. 
That night the missionaries went up the hill to treat the 
wounded and bring consolation to the bereaved. 

During the next few weeks tempestuous battles blazed 
again and again with more dead and wounded left on 
the missionaries' doorstep. By November Mickelson and 
his group decided it was the better part of valor as well as 
Christian strategy to move. So, on Thanksgiving, they aban- 
doned the camp and established a new station four miles 
south, at Hitigima, close to a large concentration of Danis. 

The author making friends with Chief Ukumhearik (left), undisputed 
ruler of 10,000 Danis and husband to 20 wives, and his witch-doctor at 
Hitigima in New Guinea. (Chapter I) 

The picture which, when shown to the Stone-Age Danis, brought to the 
"Shangri-La" missionaries their closest brush with death, (see page 36) 

Dani tribesmen preparing fire for feast celebrating victory in one of the 
tribal wars that rage constantly in the Baliem Valley. (Chapter I) 

Missionary Tom Bozeman inoculating 
with penicillin a victim of yaws, 
most prevalent disease in "Shangri-La. 

The Valley That Time Forgot 35 

One of the missionaries sighed in a letter home: "It's going 
to take a while to teach the Dani to love his enemies, not 
to steal his wife or pig, not to whack him with an ax or 
pierce him with a spear." 

At the mission one day some Danis were curiously look- 
ing through an American magazine. When one seemed to be 
dwelling overlong at an illustration, a missionary leaned 
over, snatched the magazine away. He tore out the page and 
crumpled it: it was a picture of Hercules decapitating the 
Hydra. "These people," he muttered, "don't need any sug- 
gestions on how to make mayhem more efficient!" 

Most Dani customs either lead to war or flow from it. 
Rigid boundary lines separate the hundreds of valley tribes; 
to cross them means death. But to the Dani, risking death 
is better than boredom. And Danis, the missionaries soon 
learned, bore easily. 

Cannibalism is practiced only on strong and valiant ene- 
miesto gain their virtues. On one occasion, hearing that 
a young warrior had been badly wounded and was in the 
hands of the enemy in a nearby village, Van Stone hurried 
over to offer medical treatment. At the village edge, he saw 
a column of smoke rising. He was told, "You no need go; 
him now being roasted. Big feast tonight!" 

Here, more than once, the missionaries learned how sud- 
denly Dani amiability could change to bloodthirst Their 
closest brush with disaster came a year ago when three Dani 
girls who had been helping to make an airstrip were drowned 
while crossing the Baliem River. Going to console the 
mothers, Van Stone found the families had been worked 
into a fever of excitement by a few troublemakers. 

At the funeral next day the people sat swaying and moan- 

36 Adventurers for God 

ing, their black faces contorted, their hands quivering on 
their spears. Hostility rose to passionate pitch when one 
of the mothers dramatically whacked off two of her fin- 
gers with a stoneheaded ax and flung them into Van Stone's 

The missionary pushed his way through the screaming 
mob, sought out Ukumhearik. 

"My people say you have brought only trouble," said the 
chief. "They demand your death. But I try to help you," 

He addressed the people: "This is my friend. Before mis- 
sionaries came, you were poor no shells, no axes, no cloth. 
Now we have all these/' 

The people shouted back angrily, wanting no part of the 
olive branch. Ukumhearik lifted his hand. "Listen," he said. 
"Big bird come to save white man." Sure enough, it was the 
mission plane coming in on an emergency rim. Frightened, 
the Danis fell on the ground, and the chief whisked the 
missionary out of danger. By the next day hostility had died 
as quickly as it had flared. 

One evening, three months after the three girls' death, 
danger flared again. The missionaries were projecting colored 
slides on the wall of their house. As the Danis recognized 
themselves, they laughed and shouted, "My spirit!" Then in- 
advertently a slide was inserted of a group containing two 
of the dead girls. Immediately the Danis prostrated them- 
selves on the ground. When one cried out, "They've got 
dead spirits in that box!" a fearful murmur crackled through 
the crowd like dry grass aflame. Sensing a riot in the making, 
the missionaries stopped the show, sent for the tribe's leaders, 
spent hours patiently demonstrating how pictures were made 
and reproduced. The incident passed. But henceforth the 

The Valley That Time Forgot 37 

missionaries carefully screened their pictures prior to project- 
ing them. 

Despite such alarums, the missionaries managed gradually 
to build up confidence in their intentions, nibbling away at 
native hostility with a multitude of good deeds. 

Most formidable obstacle was the Dani tongue, unlike any 
encountered elsewhere. To help hurdle it, a talented mis- 
sionary linguist, Myron Bromley of Meadville, Pennsylvania, 
was brought in. Equipped with a notebook and dogged de- 
termination, Bromley wandered among the people, listening 
to the Dani speech, his pencil busy. With a tape recorder, he 
sat for hours pointing to objects, having people repeat the 
words for them over and over. At first the Danis were puz- 
zled that anyone could not comprehend their tongue, would 
put their faces up close to Bromley's, speaking loud and 
clear as to a retarded child. 

From such patient attempts to "unscramble BabeF he 
acquired a large Dani vocabulary in an incredibly short time, 
then produced a series of lessons for the other missionaries. 
Within a few weeks all were fluent enough to converse. 
Mastery of grammar and syntax took longer. Eventually, 
however, the hitherto unrecorded tongue was reduced to 
primer materials, and a pilot teaching project was started 
with a small group of Danis. 

The problem of getting the Christian message across was 
at first discouraging. For one thing, the Dani language con- 
tains no words or idioms for such essential terms as 'love," 
"sin," "grace," "salvation." After his initial attempts to explain 
God's love for sinning humanity, Bromley reported, "The 
people looked at me with as much comprehension as if I 
were talking in Latin about the price of corn in Iowa." He 

38 Adventurers for God 

concluded, "Perhaps the Lord wants to remind us that this 
message is not something to be casually huckstered." 

Meanwhile, the men went on treks through the valley 
to make friends with other tribes. At first this provoked angry 
protests from the Hitigimans. They rolled their eyes to 
express terror, bit their arms and pointed to their stomachs 
to indicate "cannibals." Some even tried physically to restrain 
them. But the missionaries pushed on across the boundaries, 
concluding that "the uniform reluctance to let us leave is 
probably influenced more by their desire to retain the bene- 
fits of our presence than to protect us." The Danis in other 
areas, they found, were mostly friendly. In one spot, how- 
ever, Bromley and Elisa were thrown to the ground and 
spears were placed against their throats. Sure that his end 
was near, Elisa rolled his eyes heavenward and prayed, 
"Well, Jesus, here I come!" Bromley, thinking fast, redeemed 
their lives with a few cowrie shells. 

On another occasion, Van Stone and two others had an 
even closer call. They had taken a small boat up the Baliem 
to survey some of the other tribes when, ashore for a while, 
they were suddenly attacked with flying arrows and spears. 
Declarations of peaceful aims availing nothing, they retreated 
to the boat and paddled rapidly away. Feeling what he 
thought was a branch caught against his knee, Van Stone 
broke it off only to find an arrow had pierced Ms leg. It had 
to be pulled out with pliers, and he was laid up for days. 

This incident, following on the heels of other frightening 
scrapes, accomplished what months of wartime fighting in 
the South Pacific could not do: it put Van Stone on the brink 
of a crack-up. Startled at the depth of his fears, he knew he 
had to lick them or be through as a missionary. As soon as 

The Valley That Time Forgot 39 

lie could walk, he forced himself to go back into the same 
territory where he had been shot. 

"As I approached the spot," he says, "I felt a terror creep- 
ing over me that was almost diabolical." He prayed for 
strength, repeated, "Lo, I am with you always/' and, "Be 
strong and of good courage." His fears fell away. The 
formerly sinister tribe met him peaceably, promised to re- 
ceive any missionaries who would come later. "From that 
day I have felt no twinge of fear," he testifies, "even in the 
tensest situations." 

After harrowing months, more missionaries were brought 
in. Also, wives joined husbands, and in many cases families 
came too. The coming of white women was of strategic im- 
portance. Dani women, who had stayed shyly in the back- 
ground until then, flocked around the mission, giving the 
wives a chance to go to work on their superstitions, teach 
them child care, sanitation, household arts. 

First white woman in Hitigima was Darlene Rose, wife of 
Gerry Rose of Bristol, Tennessee, who joined the group in 
December 1954. She caused a bug-eyed sensation. Hundreds 
of Baliem belles ran mutilated fingers through her fair hair, 
pinched and rubbed her skin. Bewildered, she asked her 
husband, "Am I being examined or tenderized?" 

Chief Ukumhearik threw a big feast in her honor, seated 
her beside him before mountains of roast pig and yams. 
Served a choice rib, she was wondering where to begin when 
Ukumhearik helpfully took it from her. With great decorum 
he dug meat from bone with his long and dirty fingernails, 
rolled the morsel on his pig-greased thigh, then flicked it into 
her mouth. She gagged but managed to swallow, graciously 
smiling her appreciation; later commented, "And I never 

40 Adventurers for God 

even had a stomach-ache!" Made the chiefs "daughter" that 
night, she thereafter was dubbed the "white princess" by 
the Danis. 

With the coming of the wives and children, Dani periods 
of capricious rancor became less frequent. More time could 
be devoted to solidifying friendly relations with other clans, 
preparing to set up schools and clinics. Yet even today every 
missionary knows that the natives' friendliness cannot be 
taken for granted, so ingrained is their superstition and so 
mercurial their temperament. 

A tragic reminder of this fact occurred in November 1956, 
at Wissel Lakes. A band of unconverted Kapaukus, blaming 
the missions for an epidemic of disease among pigs, de- 
scended on the settlements, killing an Indonesian pastor and 
his wife, also two children of another worker. They burned 
to the ground a school and several mission buildings, then 
hacked the mission airplane to pieces. 

Mickelson's aim from the beginning was not only the 
creation of a well-based Christian society in Shangri-La but 
a strong indigenous leadership when white leaders will no 
longer be needed. Mistakes of early missions were carefully 
avoided: Mickelson told me he had no intention of stifling 
native initiative and ingenuity, of replacing Dani culture 
with Western ways, or of clothing nakedness with Mother 

The delay in making converts bothered Mickelson not a 
bit. To begin with, it was enough to impress upon the Danis 
that the white man was their friend, to bring them physical 
healing, to teach them peaceful ways and the arts of better 
living. "Our job is to live with the Danis, share their life, earn 
their love," he said to me. "If Christianity cannot make its 

The Valley That Time Forgot 41 

impression through love and kindness and helpfulness, then 
it's not what we know it to be." 

After two years in the valley, the Alliance had ten mission- 
aries and their families at three thriving stations in the valley 
each with its own airstrip hacked out by hundreds of 
friendly Danis. And early in 1957, the Dutch territorial gov- 
ernment, satisfied that Shangri-la had finally been "pacified" 
sufficiently for the establishment of a government post in the 
valley, began construction of a 1500-meter airstrip capable 
of handling large planes. Moreover, the government prom- 
ised to help subsidize schools and hospitals. 

About the missionaries and their work, Dutch officials are 
now lyrical Says Dr. Victor de Bruijn, director of the Bureau 
for Native Affairs for Netherlands New Guinea: "Before 
the boons of civilization can be brought to Stone Age natives, 
a revolution in their mental attitudes has to be effected. 
That's what Christian missions are dramatically accomplish- 
ing in Shangri-la. These missionaries know far more about 
this part of New Guinea and its people than does the govern- 
ment. We are glad to follow their lead." 

Would the government have trouble recruiting personnel 
to man its post? De Bruijn thought so. "To impel a man to 
live and work in so primitive a region," he says, "he must 
have a song to sing. Missionaries have the song their coura- 
geous faith and the noblest of human motives: to do good 
for the people/' 

To that tune, Christian missions for centuries have 
marched against darkness and superstition the world around. 
Today, in Shangri-la, that song is ringing clear throughout 
the "valley that time forgot." 

Sir Henry Holland of Pakistan s 
North-West Frontier 


He Gave Siglii 

The surgeon in charge of a mission hospital on India's 
wild North- West Frontier was jarred awake, the night of 
May 30, 1935, by a thundering roar. The room rocked and 
pitched, to the sound of fearful crashing and the screams of 
patients in his nearby hospital Before he could struggle 
from his cot amid falling debris, a huge weight knocked him 

This was the Quetta earthquake, one of the most disastrous 
in world history. In a few seconds it reduced the city of 
60,000 to rubble, killing outright some 24,000 of its people. 

The 60-year-old missionary came to consciousness amid 
the deathly silence following the quake. Then, suddenly, he 
heard a shout through the darkness. It was his son, also a 
doctor and his assistant, who too had miraculously escaped 
death. The surgeon painfully lifted his head and called out 
in his high-pitched voice, "For Pete's sake, Harry, get me out 
of here. There's work to be done!" 

Frantically the son tore at the hill of rubble, and in 15 
minutes the two were organizing rescue efforts. The hos- 
pital compound with its facilities for 130 patients, two op- 
erating theaters, laboratory, large dispensary and X-ray plant 
built up from almost nothing through 35 agonizing years of 


He Gave Sight to 100,000 43 

effort was a shambles. Many of the patients and hospital 
staff members were dead or dying. The missionary surgeon 
limped about, furiously bandaging the wounded, directing 
the removal of hundreds of corpses, giving thousands of 
injections to stave off an epidemic of cholera. 

Meeting perils was nothing new to Dr. Henry Tristram 
Holland. When I saw him, in 1957, at 82 years of age he was 
still meeting them and bringing Christian profit from them. 
A man small of stature and puckish of countenance, his un- 
spectacular appearance 'belies his spectacular record and 
repute as one of the world's foremost eye surgeons. During 
his 56 years in the border country between Afghanistan and 
what is now Pakistan, he gave back sight to more than 
100,000 persons. 

In recognition of his life-service to the tribespeople of the 
North- West Frontier, and for his contribution to ophthal- 
mology, Holland was knighted in 1936 by King Edward VIII 
the only surviving missionary knight since Sir Wilfred 
GrenfelTs death. 

In Sir Henry's youth there was nothing to forecast him 
in the role of either knight or missionary. Son of an Anglican 
country parson, young Henry decided to "go into medicine 
to get out of the church." While studying at Edinburgh 
University, however, he fell in with students intending to 
become medical missionaries. Moreover, many of the medi- 
cal faculty, he found, were devoted Christians, active in the 
University Christian Medical Association. Here he was im- 
pressed by such speakers as Henry Drummond, propounder 
of love as 'The Greatest Thing in the World," and Charles 
Studd, a famous cricket player. One day he noted over a 
mantel a cryptic motto, "Not for ours only." Asking its mean- 

44 Adventurers for God 

Ing, he found it was from I John 2:2 "And he is the propitia- 
tion for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins 
of the whole world." Responding to the summons to selfless 
living, Henry finally applied to the Church Missionary So- 
ciety, a foreign missions arm of the Church of England. 

Holland offered to go to Nigeria, but was told, "We're 
sending you to Quetta/' Mystified, he demanded, "Where's 
that?" He soon found out. The North- West Frontier, with 
Quetta as its southern bastion, was a rough land of Kipling- 
esque people and storied history. Its rocky desert wastes, bar- 
ren hills and bloodstained passes such as the famed Khyber 
had for 3500 years known the tread of invading armies. In 
this no man's land he found a racial mosaic of nomadic Bra- 
huis, swarthy Baluchis, marauding Pathan tribes devoted to 
blood feuds and banditry. The Frontier tribesman was a 
strange medley of the swashbuckling brigand cruel, treach- 
erous, fanatical and the brave, proud, individualistic lover 
of freedom, deeply religious according to his lights. Tall, 
bearded, with deep-set fiery eyes and hawk noses, the Pa- 
thans disdained all laws laid down by modern governments, 
ruling themselves by tribal "Customary Laws" that were old 
before America was discovered. 

Because their land could not produce crops, the tribesmen 
"farmed" the passes by raids on passing caravans. Almost 
every family had a blood feud going. The tribes were no- 
madic, grazing their camels, flocks and herds in the Baluch 
and Afghan uplands all summer, then streaming through the 
passes toward the plains of India in the winter. To keep 
these hordes of free-ranging peoples in check, strong British 
garrisons policed the Frontier. 

The mission at Quetta, started in 1886, was one of a chain 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 45 

of stations begun not by missionaries but by British officers 
and enlisted men with an enlightened idea of Christianity's 
responsibility in colonial rule. They raised funds among 
themselves, petitioned the Church of England to send out 
clergy and doctors, then supported them for years. 

Among such Christian soldiers was Major General Sir 
Herbert Edwardes, who stood one day at Khyber Pass and 
warned his men not to think "this immense India has been 
given to our little England for no other purpose than our 
aggrandizement. Empires come into existence for purposes 
of the world's Creator." 

Young Henry Holland reached Quetta in May 1900, to 
find a plague raging in Karachi, with people dying in the 
streets. On the long 400-mile journey to Quetta, he traveled 
by pony, camel and on foot across the hot sands of the Sind 
Desert, trekking with the tall, hawk-nosed tribesmen carry- 
ing their homemade rifles with curving stocks inlaid with 
brass and their great curved swords bright with semi-pre- 
cious stones. 

The mission station seemed to him an audacity, a tiny but 
brave assertion that Christianity cares for both body and 
soul. Such caring, he soon learned, could be costly. 

Aroused by mullahs, the powerful Moslem religious lead- 
ers, tribesmen often went on rampages, murdering Afghan 
converts to Christianity, Indians and British as apostates in 
Islam's eyes. To the fanatics, the killing of an "infidel" was a 
pious act. Prior to Holland's coming and during his first years 
on the Frontier, scores of missionaries and their converts 
provided Moslem warriors with such passports to paradise. 

Converts to Christianity suffered even more wholesale re- 
prisals. On the Frontier it was a proud Moslem boast that 

46 Adventurers for God 

"no Afghan turned Christian has ever returned to his own 
country and lived/' One convert, son of a Moslem judge in 
Quetta, was seized, spirited in chains to Kabul, the Afghani- 
stan capital, cruelly beaten then given a chance to recant. 
When he refused, one of his arms was hacked off, then the 
other. Still refusing to recant, he was beheaded. However, a 
witness to the man's martyrdom later wrote Holland: "The 
remembrance of the light and peace in Abdul Karin's face 
has haunted me through the years. Tell me the secret of it." 
This man too was converted and later executed for his 
new-found faith. 

Holland prayed nightly that *1 may scorn the way of 
safety, so that Thy will may be done." To his hospital staff 
he said: "If we Christians cannot out-live and out-love any 
other religion, we don t deserve to win." 

He left no patient in doubt as to the motivation behind 
his treatment. Before each operation he would say a short 
prayer, endeavor to make every healing technique a "testi- 
mony to the tender mercy of God." Asked why he mixed 
Christian evangelization with medical treatment, he snapped: 
"I am a missionary doctor. The Christian medical man who 
says everything about the body and nothing about the soul 
is not doing his full duty." 

When a prominent Moslem leader hotly demanded why 
the mission tried to convert his people, Holland deftly took 
the wind out of his angry sails by saying, "We love your 
people, and so we want them to have the best-in religion 
as in medicine. Since we think Christianity the best of reli- 
gions, we cannot be selfish with it any more than we can 
withhold from those we love the best medical skills and 
medicines we have." 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 47 

When the 25-year-old doctor first came to Quetta his hos- 
pital boasted only a few beds and almost no modern equip- 
ment. His own experience in surgery, as a student at Edin- 
burgh, had been limited to opening a few abscesses and 
presiding at a birth or two. But such was the pitiful plight 
of the people, particularly during plagues and epidemics, 
that he soon was treating almost all ailments in the medical 
glossary. He wrote home: "If you ever see P.C. after my 
name, it won't mean IVe been made Privy Councilor; it'll 
stand for piles and cataracts!" 

Cataracts particularly. This ailment was common along the 
Frontier, and the pathos of the blind touched him deeply. 
He soon discovered not only a special facility but his greatest 
satisfaction in curing blindness. And as word of his skill got 
about, tribespeople came in droves to be cured. 

One day an old couple, both completely blinded by double 
cataracts, stumbled into his compound. They had not seen 
each other for years. Holland operated, then placed them in 
beds side by side in the hospital ward. Days later, when the 
bandages were removed simultaneously, they looked at each 
other with first unbelief, then sheer enchantment. As the 
two old people went into each other's arms, tears of joy 
flowing down their faces, Holland wept with them. 

Whole families would arrive at the compound, bringing 
along children, animals, chickens. A patient quartered in one 
of the wards would tether his camel outside, and one or 
more relatives would bed down beside him. Some tribesmen, 
who had never slept under anything but a tent roof, balked 
at the wards. For the sake of tradition and family solidarity, 
Dr. Holland always accommodated them. One family, with a 
small son needing a bladder stone removal, slept in their 

48 Adventurers for God 

bullock cart with the bull in the compound outside. In a 
temporary shelter serving as a pile ward, the doctor one day 
found a horse tethered next to a patient. Humorously, he 
asked if the horse suffered from the same complaint and 
let him stay. 

The Quetta hospital, growing without plan or design, be- 
came a helter-skelter assortment of annexes and scattered 
family wards. After the earthquake, the present modern, 
reinforced-brick 200-bed hospital, with four operating the- 
aters, delivery room, X-ray laboratory and nurses' training 
school was erected mostly from funds raised personally by 
Sir Henry during a tour of England and a public appeal put 
on in his behalf by the London Times. 

A further impressive monument to Sir Henry's skill with 
both lancet and religious diplomacy is the famous Shikarpur 
Hospital 200 miles southeast of Quetta. One of the largest 
eyes clinics in the world, it can care for as many as 600 
patients at a time. 

Shikarpur, an exclusive Hindu city, had been closed tight 
to Christian missionaries. But in October 1909, Holland was 
approached by Seth Hiranand, a Shikarpur banker and phi- 
lanthropist who for some time had been sending patients to 
Quetta. "Why do you not come to my city?" he asked. "I 
will provide many patients, pay all expenses." 

Arriving in the forbidden city, Holland found hundreds of 
blind and sick swarming about the grounds of Hiranand's 
estate. He set up an operating theater on the large scimitar- 
shaped verandah and went to work, fighting flies and dust 
and clamorous patients. He stayed three weeks, performed 
more than 400 operations. Before he left, the banker brought 
him a large bag of rupees and a proposition. "Doctor Sahib," 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 49 

he said, "as you have seen, there are many here who need 
your skills. You will come again next year perhaps annu- 

Cannily, the little surgeon replied: "I will, on condition 
that you build a suitable hospital, housing for patients, and 
underwrite all expenses." The banker agreed readily. Squat- 
ting on the floor, Holland drew preliminary plans in the 
verandah's dust. That done, he arose. "There's one other con- 
dition," he said. "If I come, I must have the right to preach 
Christianity here." 

When the conditions of the project became known, a city- 
wide uproar arose. A big mass-meeting denounced the plan 
for Christian infiltration. Hiranand sat through the angry 
speeches, then rose to win the day by quietly saying, "If 
you will find a surgeon as great as the Doctor Sahib, one 
who will heal our blind and sick, and yet not preach Chris- 
tianity, I will agree with you. Shall the thousands of our 
people who need treatment be denied it by our prejudices?" 

Getting news of the victory, Holland chuckled: 'Til bet 
Shikarpur is the first city in the world to be opened to Chris- 
tianity at the point of a cataract knife." 

Next year, he found in that city a beautiful little hospital 
ready for him, with two well-equipped operating rooms, 
plentiful housing accommodations and 500 new patients 
waiting. The reputation of the Shikarpur clinic, in full-tilt 
operation each January-February, spread rapidly, until Hol- 
land and his associates were performing as many as 1200 
cataract operations and 2000 other major surgical procedures 
during the six weeks the clinic operated. Leading ophthal- 
mologists traveled across the world to observe the Holland 

50 Adventurers for God 

Among them were many Americans. One, Dr. Derrick Vail 
of Northwestern University Medical School, tells of finding 
Sir Henry's aura everywhere about the hospital and its 
compound. "I was not fully prepared to grasp at once the 
striking character of this dynamic and expert eye surgeon. 
But in a few moments his simple and compassionate nature, 
radiating from his inner warmth, embraced me and I knew 
that here was a very great and good man." 

Another American took Holland back to the States with 
him for a vacation in 1928, pressed him to join his staff to 
ultimately succeed him as head of one of the Midwest's 
largest eye-ear-nose-and-throat hospitals. When Holland 
shook his head, the eminent doctor offered a fabulous salary, 
saying archly, 'Tm told that every man has his price, Sir 
Henry." The missionary surgeon laughed. "I'm afraid you've 
been misinformed. You can't put a price tag on a fellow's 
love for his people." 

During his long career, he was offered many other high 
medical posts. Always he turned them down. 

Holland early found that his compulsion to bring sight and 
healing to the needy could not be contained by Quetta and 
the several out-stations he established. Nor could his adven- 
turous spirit. With British political and military officers he 
argued that if he could go with them, "throwing pills about 
and applying the proper sort of ointments," he might "help 
to reduce the temperatures" of troublesome tribesmen. 

He proved his point one day at a remote village on the 
Baluch-Persian frontier where a team of British agents had 
to deal with a difficult border bandit named Dost Mahomed. 
The bandit, whose murdering and pillaging had thrown the 
whole area into chaos, rode up on a prancing stallion and 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 51 

with five of Bis sub-chiefs inarched into the desert tent for 
the meeting, rifles in hand, bandoliers of cartridges criss- 
crossing their sunburned chests, surly and defiant. 

While the negotiations went on, getting nowhere, Holland 
slipped out, slung a medicine chest over his shoulders and 
crossed the frontier into the walled city where 1500 of Ma- 
homed's followers were encamped. For hours he treated the 
sick, and when he returned to the place of conference 300 
of them came with him, singing praises for the help he'd 
brought. The bandit came out, still fuming at the Britishers' 
demands. But when he saw the crowd of his own people, 
happy over Holland's ministrations, he and his men laid down 
their guns. The British agents used the truce to depart hur- 
riedly. Afterward, Holland was told, "Dost Mahomed came 
to the conference determined to loll the whole party. You 
stopped him cold." 

Alone, or with a mission colleague, he went out among 
the tribespeople in areas where seldom a white man had ever 
been seen. Through the craggy hills and sunblistered valleys, 
he would travel for days on pony back, or on a riding camel 
"the most uncomfortable conveyance known to man." When 
he came upon a cluster of glowering Pathans, he would dis- 
mount to treat diseases, patch up wounds, perform delicate 
eye operations. 

For these proud people, whom powerful British forces 
could not conquer, he conceived a lasting affection. And 
they for him. He moved through their forbidden areas un- 
armedand unharmed. While he performed his operations, 
the tribesmen would gather around curiously. He employed 
them as screens from the dust and sand, put fans in their 
hands to keep the flies away. 

52 Adventurers for God 

To win the tribesmen's confidence, lie joined them in rid- 
ing, fishing, shooting. In appreciation for his services, they 
would come at day's end to his campfire, offering with great 
dignity gifts of their poor best: a joint of mutton, fruit, a 
hand-made rug, a trinket. 

On one tour, he had just finished treating a tribe and was 
about to go when news came that a band of bloodthirsty 
Afghan outlaws had slipped over the border and were in the 
vicinity. But, he was assured, "They will not harm you." 
Later he learned that his friends had sent outriders ahead to 
throw around him an invisible circle of protection. 

Wherever he went the tribesmen would seek him out. 
On one occasion, while on a brief holiday in the Himalayan 
foothills, a group of Pathans came leading a woman with 
double cataracts, They pointed to her, saying simply, "Doctor 
Sahib . . ." The only instruments he had with him were a 
pair of iris forceps and a cataract knife. But from the wife of 
a companion he borrowed nail scissors, tweezers and a cro- 
chet hook; from a hairpin he improvised an instrument to 
hold the eye open. Then, sterilizing his strange instruments, 
he went to work. Five days later, when the bandages were 
removed, the operation proved a complete success. 

During another trip deep into the desert he came to a 
small oasis, found a cluster of Baluchis hovered over a man 
groaning in pain and near death. The man had fallen 30 feet 
from the top of a date palm tree, badly ruptured his urethra; 
his bladder was distended almost to the bursting point. 
Having only primitive surgical instruments with him, Hol- 
land punctured the bladder, contrived a drainage tube from 
the metal case of a clinical thermometer, smoothed it down 
with files and emery board, and bandaged him up. Being 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 53 

60 miles from the nearest railhead, 140 miles from the 
nearest hospital, the little doctor hoisted his patient onto a 
camel for the long desert trek, breathing a prayer that sepsis 
would not set in. Arriving at the railroad station after 24 
hours with his patient, he found that the next train was not 
due for 36 hours. Keeping his patient alive by sheer will 
power, they reached the hospital two long hot days later. 
Holland operated again, found the wound aseptic, his man 
on the road to recovery. "God is great!" chorused the Ba- 

His reputation spread among the highly placed as well as 
the lowly. He treated the Rajah of Shigar at his capital 200 
miles from the border of Tibet, on one occasion was flown 
to Kabul to save the sight of the King of Afghanistan. One 
day he received a message from one of the most powerful 
of the Frontier chieftains, the fabulous Wali of Swat, noted 
for his antipathy for missionaries. But his need was greater 
than his intolerance: he was going blind would the Doctor 
Sahib come? 

Holland traveled by foot through the passes beyond Mala- 
kand, where the Wali and his people had attacked the British 
and where Sir Winston Churchill served as a war corre- 
spondent. Finally he came to a setting like a page out of 
The Arabian Nights. After saying the first Christian prayer 
ever heard in the palace, Sir Henry operated successfully on 
the Waifs eyes. Afterward, they became fast friends, often 
went hunting together. 

Not the least of Sir Henry Holland's achievements for 
Pakistan and the North- West Froatier is his role in bringing 
Moslem women into the 20th century. When he first came, 
women had their place in the rigid seclusion of ' 

54 Adventurers for God 

Wives were bought like cattle. Hospitals were "men only 9 ' 
institutions. Sir Henry's mission established a hospital for 
women in the Quetta compound, convinced husbands that 
it was an economic waste to allow a wife to wither and die. 

One of his weirdest tasks was the replacing of women's 
noses. Extremely jealous, the Pathan's tradition allowed him 
to chop off a wife's nose at the slightest suspicion of infidelity. 
Later, discovering her innocence, he was likely to regret his 
action, bring her to the hospital for repairs. One, when told 
that the operation would cost 60 shillings, hesitated until 
the doctor asked, "Is it not worth the money to have a wife 
with a nose?" The tribesman replied, "That's a hard ques- 
tion, Doctor Sahib. You see, for 75 shillings I can buy a new 

Sir Henry also gave Moslem and Hindu womanhood an 
important boost up the social and professional ladder by his 
program for training nurses and hospital technicians. In 
1900, the idea of any proper Moslem girl working outside 
the home, let alone in a hospital, was abhorrent. Holland, 
always hard pressed to staff his hospital, put constant stress 
on the dignity of serving one's fellows in need, on a people's 
responsibility to help care for its own. 

For years the backbone of his nursing staff came from the 
outcast and depressed classes, many of them second genera- 
tion Christians. His mission's nursing schools were the first 
to give women not only training but graduate standing and 
certification. Today the daughters of Pakistan's best families 
are being trained as doctors and nurses. 

For more than a half century Sir Henry worked toward the 
the day when his hospital could be taken over completely by 
indigenous leaders. "It is always a missionary's happiest 

He Gave Sight to 100,000 55 

achievement/* he says, "when a Christian institution can be 
handed over to nationals, and is no longer a work done for 
them but by them." 

In 1939 Sir Henry reached his society's retirement age, 65 
with no hankering to quit. Shortage of doctors in World 
War II gave him the excuse to ask for an "extension for the 
duration." He managed to extend the extension to eight 

In the spring of 1948, when he was 74, having seen his 
son Ronald succeed him at Quetta, he took what he thought 
was his final departure from the land and people to whom 
he had given his life. But he had hardly got back to England 
muttering darkly at the "foolishness of a system that retires 
a man in his prime" when word came that tribal chiefs had 
made up a purse to bring him back for a period each year. 
Ever since, he has spent his winters on the Frontier, his sum- 
mers going up and down England recruiting missionaries and 
stimulating British youth to selfless service. 

Speaking to an assembly of London young people in 
1956, he chided them for modern youth's preoccupation 
with security, their hesitancy toward pioneering. "The grave 
is secure," he said, "but terribly dull. Serve your age well 
and security will take care of itself!" 

When someone once asked why, with talents that would 
have brought him vast material gains, he gave himself so 
selflessly to healing the hurt of mankind, he replied, "Re- 
member what a chap named Mallory said when he was 
asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest? 'Because it's 
there!' Thaf s my answer, too." 

Eleanor Wilson of Micronesia 


Skipper of ote Morning Star 

When the storm struck one of those violent eruptions 
of wind and wave for which the mid-Pacific is notedthe 
60-foot ketch was tossed around like an eggshell nearing 
Niagara Falls. Drenched with spray, I clung to the gunwale 
and forgot my fears, watching the 65-year-old woman at 
her post behind the helmsman. Clad in oilskins, her white 
hair whipping from beneath her sou'wester, she was issuing 
calm commands which sent her dark-hued crewmen scuttling 
about the plunging decks and up the crazily weaving 
rigging. She might have been giving directions to a maid at 

This was the Morning Star VII, latest in a long line of 
fabled missionary ships which have plied the waters of 
Micronesia for the past century, serving the churches and 
people of its myriad islands and atolls and helping make the 
Marshalls and Carolines among the most thoroughly Chris- 
tianized areas in the world. 

And this was the equally fabled Eleanor Wilson, lady skip- 
per and ordained minister, whose name is known from Guam 
in the Marianas to Kapingamarangi in the Carolines, from 
Eniwetok to Ebon in the Marshalls, and whose ship's wake 
today is inscribing one of the most audacious pages in mis- 
sionary history. To me the gentle Miss Wilson seemed better 


Skipper of the Morning Star 57 

suited to doing petit point in some Boston Back Bay draw- 
ing room than to piloting a storm-battered ship, with only a 
native crew for company, through some of the most danger- 
ous waters in the world. 

That night, the tempest over and the Morning Star back 
on course, we sat on the hatchcover beneath a sky whose stars 
seemed close enough for plucking while Eleanor Wilson 
traced for me the unpredictable paths that had brought her 
to this unusual career. Born into a New England family 
heavy with the names of educators and college presidents, 
she went to Simmons College, became secretary to a pro- 
fessor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nothing 
was further from her mind than being a missionary, unless 
it was being a ship captain. As a young woman she took to 
religion lightly, and to the sea with distaste. 

But when, in 1921, a friend challenged her by saying, 
"Eleanor, you're now 30, and what are you doing to make 
the world better?" she began some serious thinking. She en- 
rolled in New York's Biblical Seminary, became a YWCA 
director of education. 

Two years later she took her longest step away from 
Beacon Hill. Offered the presidency of Women's Evangelistic 
School in Kobe, Japan, she accepted with a reservation. 
She prayed, "Lord, if I get seasick on the way out, I'll know 
I've made a mistake." Since her only previous experience on 
the sea had been agonizing, she was certain that this test of 
her "calling" guaranteed an early return home. But amaz- 
ingly, her stomach stubbornly refused her the alibi; she felt 
not a moment of nausea- then or ever again. 

In 1933 she was summoned back to Boston as associate 
secretary for the American Board of Commissioners for For- 

58 Adventurers for God 

eign Missions. Her job: to find missionaries for far and diffi- 
cult places. To her desk one day came an appeal for a teacher 
willing to go out to Kusaie in the Caroline Islands, then 
under Japanese mandate. "When I found recruiting difficult/' 
she says, "my New England conscience demanded to know 
why I was asking others to go where I was unwilling to go 
myself." She went, paying her own fare and taking all her 
savings to sustain her for a year. Except for the war years 
she has been in the islands ever since, teaching in mission 
schools on Kusaie, Truk and Ponape in the eastern Carolines, 
at Jaluit, Uliga and Rong Rong in the Marshalls. 

She became a lady skipper, abruptly, in 1950. A sailor 
from the U. S. Coast Guard station at Rong Rong came run- 
ning through the palms, a cablegram in his hand, and saluted 
with exaggerated smartness. "Gotta call you Captain now, 
ma'am/' he grinned. "You just got yourself a ship!" 

The cablegram said that the missionary who had been 
skippering the Morning Star VI had been called home. The 
ship was berthed at Kwajalein; there was nobody else avail- 
able to serve as captain. The message said, in effect, "You're 
it!" She read the cablegram three times before she realized 
that she, who knew nothing about navigation and held in 
respectful fear the unmarked, reef-ridden, shark-infested 
waters beyond the placid lagoons, was being handed the 
job. What in heaven's name was the board thinking of? 

She had no time to ponder. "Better get ready, ma'am/' 
said the sailor. Tm to take you by launch to UHga, where 
you can catch the Navy plane to Kwaj." 

At Kwajalein her heart sank further when she saw the Star . 
Its sails were rotting, its auxiliary engine out of repair, its 
radio generator corroded and useless. And the crew was 

Skipper of the Morning Star 59 

plainly aghast that she was taking over. She summoned them 
to the afterdeck. "The ways of the Lord/' she said (adding 
under her breath, "and of the board"), "are past understand- 
ing. But you all know how our churches and people have 
depended upon 'God's little white ships' to bring diem the 
Gospel, supplies and transportation for students and pastors. 
If the Lord means for us you and me together to sail the 
Star and do His work, He will protect us. Let's remember 
Psalm 97: 'The Lord reigneth ... let the multitude of isles 
be glad thereof.' " 

Reassured that Deity was still in control but visibly un- 
certain that with her at the helm the isles would ever be 
seen by them, let alone be "made glad," the crewmen mut- 
tered, "Amen." She surveyed their craggy, dark faces a mo- 
ment, then added, "I'm going to see if the United States 
Navy will help us make the Star seaworthy. Meanwhile, I 
want you to scrub the decks, polish all brass, spray the 
cabins with DDT and make God's ship one He won t be 
ashamed of!" 

Glad of the chance to sink their sorrows in work, the crew 
soon had the little ship spick-and-span. They went further. 
Suddenly conscious that the Star had no "head" that would 
work, during her absence ashore one day they constructed 
on the f antail a crude but practical structure of canvas and 
two-by-foursthen modestly averted their eyes and retreated 
forward whenever she headed aft. 

The next six weeks were maddeningly frustrating. Even 
with the wining help of Navy men, it took endless days to get 
new parts for the engine, patches for the sails, repairs for 
chronometer and generator. To improve the time, Eleanor 
Wilson studied Mixter's Primer of Navigation., and talked an 

60 Adventurers for God 

Air Force navigator into teaching her how to use a sextant 
and plot a course. After several shakedown runs in the atoll's 
60-mile lagoon to try out her new knowledge, she laid a 
course to Jaluit, 200 miles southeast, and headed for the open 
sea. Going through a pass, a sailor on another ship hailed 
her, "Where you bound, ma'am?" When she told him he 
shouted, "Who's your navigator?" She jabbed a forefinger 
proudly at herself. "Wow!" he exclaimed. "I'm glad I'm not 

She delivered her ship to its port without mishap. 

Nevertheless, those first months intimately acquainted her 
with the haunting hazards of her new job. Of sailing through 
seas without lighthouses or buoys to mark the channels, or 
shore lights to guide her in. Of the treachery of green water 
indicating reefs that could rip the bottom from her craft. 
Of menacing coral heads just beneath the surface of other- 
wise innocent water. Of sudden squalls and tricky ocean 
currents that could throw her miles off course. Of blanketing 
clouds that hid the horizon and blocked from sight the low- 
lying islands, most of which were but a few feet above sea 
level Of engine failure that seemed to come oftenest when 
approaching narrow passages through reefs into the safety 
of calm lagoons. 

For instance, there was the time when, on the way to 
Ponape via Ujelang, both her engine and the winds died. 
Becalmed for three days, she was unaware that ocean cur- 
rents were drifting them toward danger until suddenly a 
brace of U. S. planes appeared, dropping flares and buzzing 
her bow. Quickly taking bearings, Eleanor exclaimed, "No 
wonder the Air Force is in a tizzy. We're in the restricted 
Eniwetok area!" Signaling her incapacity to do anything 

Skipper of the Morning Star 61 

about it, she called the crew together, said quietly, "Let's 
sing a hymn." They had scarcely reached the third stanza 
when a freshening wind arose and, gaily waving to the dis- 
tressed airmen, she wheeled the ship and set a direct course 
for Ponape. 

Little by little she got the crew to teach her their own 
ancient sailing lore. This knowledge, handed down for hun- 
dreds of years by their ancestors, who had navigated frail 
outrigger canoes across thousands of miles of open sea, en- 
abled her men to plot a course by wave patterns, cloud for- 
mations, the flight of birds. 

One evening, arriving at an island too late to get into the 
pass, she gave orders to shorten sail, keep the ship on a slow 
course parallel to the reef. In the middle of the night, feeling 
vaguely uneasy, she went on deck to find her helmsman fast 
asleep, the wheel lashed, the Star drifting toward the reef 
only a few yards away. Swiftly, without disturbing the 
sleeper, she unlashed the helm and steered the ship out of 
danger. When the new watch appeared two hours later, she 
refused to turn over the wheel, manning it herself till day- 
light. None of the ashamed crewmen has ever again been 
caught asleep on duty. 

Skippering the Morning Star entails not only sailing prow- 
ess but widely varied pastoral services ashore. Any visit to 
one of the hundreds of islands comprising Miss Wilson's 
500,000-square-mile parish plunges her into a round of church 
services, marriages, funerals, christenings, plus conferences 
with the native pastor (who often is also die island chief) 
and teachers in the mission school. 

The Stars visit is a long-anticipated event. When we ar- 
rived at Kili, the lovely little island to which the Bikini 

62 Adventurers for God 

people had been transplanted by the U. S. government, a 
holiday was declared. The people flocked out from shore in 
their outriggers, led by King Judah, the chief. Ashore we 
were seated in a large thatch-roofed auditorium, leis thrown 
about our necks. Then, lustily singing a Marshallese welcome 
song, the islanders placed gifts before us baskets full of rare 
shells, intricately woven hats and purses, great bunches of 
bananas, breadfruit, pandanus, taro, roast chickens. Gravely 
Judah told me: "We are very happy here. Please convey our 
thanks to America." 

Since transportation through these immense watery reaches 
is virtually nonexistent save by outrigger canoe, the Morning 
Star has been for years the islanders 7 favorite means of 
getting about. No charge for passage is made. The itinerants 
bring their own food and sleep on deck amid great mounds 
of duffel. Says Miss Wilson, "They consider it their ship 
and of course they're right. The Star can take 20 people, plus 
five tons of freight; it's first come, first carried." On one 
stretch between island stops we made, the Star's deck re- 
sembled nothing so much as the colonel's jeep in Teahouse of 
the August Moon. 

Life aboard the Morning Star is, let us say, spiritually 
aseptic. Historically the islanders have considered their ves- 
sel a holy bark, freely at the service of all willing to comport 
themselves as in a church. But not for the unrestrained. In 
1889, Robert Louis Stevenson and some bibulous compan- 
ions requested passage from Honolulu to Micronesia on the 
Morning Star TV; informed of the rules, they hastily canceled 
the request. 

The Stars crew, made up from members of the Marshal- 
lese Church, is like no other on any ship or any sea. Member- 

Skipper of the Morning Star 63 

ship in the church a self-governing, self-supporting body 
which makes its own stringent rules is no frivolous matter. 
While most islanders are baptized Christians and regular 
attendants at church, membership is permitted only to those 
who do not smoke, drink, dance or trifle with the seventh 
commandment. No exceptions are made. Recently a king of 
Majuro Island was expelled for smoking, and got back 
in only after public confession and a promise to mend his 

Aboard, prayers and services are conducted twice daily. 
The men break into hymn-singing spontaneously hymns 
heavy with assurance of God's care. When they lift their 
harmonious voices in "Ta iman i jaje kio y bwelen dreka WOT 
ak lari* (Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and 
treacherous shoal) you know they are singing of deep, fa- 
miliar reality, not poetic symbolism. 

Between voyages, Eleanor Wilson supervises the church's 
intermediate boarding school at Jabwor, on Jaluit Atoll, and 
also does some teaching. In whatever spare time is left, she 
guides her students' recreation and reading, encourages them 
to think for themselves, ask questions, even challenge her 
precepts. "Don't just accept what I say," she needles them. 
"He who has never sincerely doubted has never truly 

When on trips she often takes along her ninth-graders and 
holds classes on board, using these sea junkets to teach them 
about the outer world. Dr. Robert Gibson, director of edu- 
cation for the U.S. Trust Territory, told me: "Of all the dedi- 
cated and inspiring teachers I've seen in action anywhere, 
Eleanor Wilson tops them all." 

Throughout the busy district centers of the Trust Terri- 

64 Adventurers for God 

tory, occupying positions of high importance to Micronesia's 
future, I found scores of brilliant young Marshallese who had 
studied under her during her pre-skipper days at Kusaie, 
Jaluit, Rong Rong, Majuro. 

One is Kejeje, manager of the Jaluit branch of KITCO 
(Kwajalein Island Trading Company), one of several native- 
owned companies set up by the Trust Territory to supply 
islanders with needed goods as well as teach them the prac- 
tical benefits of capitalism. Kejeje told me how, while her 
student at Rong Rong after World War II, he had been fired 
with ambition by Miss Wilson's repeated challenge, "Some 
day your people will have a chance to rule themselves. You 
must be ready!" 

Another is Dwight Heine, descendant of a German father 
and a Marshallese mother, who under the Trust Territory 
now directs all education projects in the Marshalls the only 
Micronesian to hold such a position. "The years I spent under 
Miss Wilson's teaching," Heine asserts, "were the most im- 
portant of my life. She taught me far more than academic 
subjects. At first I watched her, suspicious. Why, I asked 
myself, was so lovely a person devoting herself to a people 
not of her own race? Through her I came to know that there 
are individuals and nations who give themselves selflessly 
to others, not for what they can get out of us but for what 
they can put into us!" 

Miss Wilson spent the war years in the United States, lec- 
turing about the people on the unknown specks of coral 
then being thrust into the headlines. With an aching heart 
she read of the bombings of the islands she knew so well. 
She wept upon hearing how her Marshallese had replied 
when asked what they wanted and needed most. To 

Skipper of the Morning Star 65 

astounded U.S. Military poll-takers, with pencils poised to 
note down demands for creature comforts and doo-dads, the 
people said simply, "Just send us back our missionaries." 

The war over, she was the first missionary back in the 
islands. Her post-war years were filled with rebuilding 
bombed-out mission schools and churches, rounding up stu- 
dents who had been for four years without education, hitch- 
ing rides on Navy planes and ships to visit outer islands, 
comforting and reassuring the scattered and war-bewildered 

She found herself spending much time explaining her 
fellow Americans to her adopted people, and vice versa. The 
latter problem took on some proportions one day when an 
overheated Navy officer barged into her quarters. "Did you 
advise the mothers of Marshallese girls not to let them at- 
tend Navy dances?" he demanded. Hinting that interference 
with the official program for Navy recreation was pretty 
close to high treason, he blustered that he had half a mind 
and all the power to "have you sent home!" Recovering, 
Eleanor Wilson smiled and said, "In that case, maybe I'd 
better see the Commodore perhaps to say good-by?" 

When, some days later, the base commander and his wife 
dropped in at her place for a social call, she told the story. 
"I did remind the mothers that if they did not wish their 
daughters to face the discipline of their own churches, they 
had better keep them from the Navy or any other dances. 
One must understand, Commodore, that the rules of the 
churches out here are much more severe than ours at home. 
They are not my rules, nor the rules of the Congregational- 
Christian Church of which I am a minister. But they govern 
the lives of these people. My advice was based not on my 

66 Adventurers for God 

personal opinion of dancing but on the desire to avoid 
trouble for these young women. 

"I certainly do not wish, sir, to make your problem of find- 
ing suitable recreation more difficult than it already is in 
these islands. But the stay of your young men here is short. 
The girls must go on living here, where church standing is 
very important. Any girl who loses her membership might 
find it impossible to marry well. I'm sure youll agree, Com- 
modore, that such things make for great difficulties not only 
for missionaries but for the Navy." 

The Commodore did agree, and the matter closed hap- 
pilyfor all but the frustrated officer. He, not Eleanor, was 
"replaced" in the islands. 

She and the Navy thenceforth got along famously. At mis- 
sion stations where she taught school, most of them adjacent 
to U.S. installations, she kept "open house" for Navy men, 
baked them cookies and pies, planned parties aship and 
ashore, counseled them in love problems, comforted the 
homesick. In return, sailors voted her "the girl we most 
couldn't get along without," took her picture, hung it up in 
pinup spots, wangled for her rations of food and clothing, 
abandoned building materials, transportation when she 
needed it. 

Once, on an otherwise womanless cruiser taking her to 
Kwajalein, an officer gave her his cabin and the seamen 
plastered a nearby < head" with her name, followed by 
hers, proclaiming this her facility and no other's. 

And when she got her ship, they declared, "You're in the 
Navy nowone of us!" 

In mid-1951, sorely in need of a furlough, she left her ship 
in the hands of a Canadian missionary captain serving in 

Eleanor Wilson, Morning Star skipper, teaching navigation to young 
Micronesians serving as members of her crew. (Chapter III) 

Miss Wilson bicycling across her 
ship's island base at Majuro in 
the Marshall Islands. 

Charles Pean, dauntless Salvation Army 
officer, shortly after arriving in 
French Guiana determined to 
abolish the "dry guillotine." 
(Chapter IV) 

A libere in Cayenne, 
French Guiana, one of 
2500 "graduates" from 
Devil's Island whom 
Pean and his Salvation- 
ists helped rehabilitate 
through Christian com- 

French convicts working in the 
broiling sun at Devil's Island, in- 
famous French penal colony. 

Skipper of the Morning Star 69 

Okinawa and took a long-overdue leave. Some months later 
she received jolting news: the Star had foundered in a storm. 
She was now a skipper without a ship. 

Then one day a friend found an adequate ship available in 
Japan for $17,000; she decided to put her need before the 
churches. Telling her story across the United States, she 
recounted how in 1904, she, as a youngster along with thou- 
sands of other children, had been one of the owners of the 
Morning Star V. "Little did I dream as I clutched my ten- 
cent share certificate/' she told her audiences, "that I'd one 
day be a Star skipper!" She raised $20,000, much of it from 
the piggy banks of Sunday-school children who gave just as 
she had done. 

In five months she was back in the Marshalls, where she 
and the new Star were wildly welcomed by singing islanders. 
At the U.S. Navy base on Kwajalein the commanding officer 
insisted on a proper christening of the vessel. Island women 
gaily festooned the Stars rigging with colorful strips of 
cloth; a huge lei of fragrant flowers was flung over the bow, 
another around the lady skipper's neck. Then, with solemn 
ceremony, a bottle of coconut juice was smashed against the 

As a fitting climax, before the little ship moved out, the 
voices of 400 islanders, joined by officers and men of the U.S. 
Navy, broke into a hymn sung at every Star christening for 
the past 100 years: "Waft, waft, ye winds, His story." 

Charles Pean of the Salvation Army 

X3ie Man "W^Lio Concpiereci 
Devil's Island 

After nearly a century, during which Devil's Island be- 
came synonymous with everything evil in penological inhu- 
manity, France's notorious prison colony in French Guiana 
was being liquidated in 1946. And the man chosen by the 
French Government to smash the infamous "dry guillotine" 
which, since its establishment in 1852, claimed more than 
70,000 victims was neither a government official nor a pro- 
fessional penologist. He was a mild-mannered little Salvation 
Army officer, Charles Pean. 

Behind this choice lay a dramatic personal triumph a tri- 
umph resulting from 18 years of unremitting labor on behalf 
of Devil's Islanders and an unfaltering faith that religion 
can transform human life on its most hopeless, most vicious, 
most degenerate levels. 

The story of Pean's triumph is to me one of the great 
dramas of recent history, as well as a remarkable record of 
personal dedication and self-sacrifice. 

Just after World War I, while a student at the University 
of Paris, Charles Pean came in contact with the Salvation 
Army's work. The Salvationists' motto a man may be down 
but he is never out fired his imagination. 


The Man Who Conquered Devils Island 71 

Young Pean decided to give this theory a whirl. Switching 
from the social sciences to theology, he emerged from the 
university with a degree in divinity and placed his life at 
the disposal of the Salvation Army. 

Pean was working in Paris' Montmartre when a newspaper 
printed a series of articles on conditions in the French Guiana 
penal settlement. It was not the first expose. Periodically the 
world had been set back on its heels by reports from escaped 
convicts or visiting newspaper men. But each time public 
opinion had blown hot, then cold, then ceased to blow at all. 
This time the stirring was supplied by a French journalist, 
Albert Londres, and his exposures shocked public opinion as 
it had not been shocked since the Dreyfus case and Emile 
Zola's T Accuse. Yet, like others before it, the fierce public 
demand for reform of Devil's Island flared only briefly then 
died down. 

But it didn't die down in Charles Pean. Shocked and 
angry, he dug into libraries for previous accounts. He found 
himself longing to help these "incorrigibles." And something 
like the Apostle Paul's Macedonian call seemed to come to 
him from the faraway shores of Guiana. He had dedicated 
his life to the proposition that the "farthest down 7 ' could be 
lifted. Why not apply it to the pariahs of Devil's Island? 

Penologists laughed at him, showed him records of a hun- 
dred attempts at Guiana reform and a hundred failures. 
Pean was stubborn. "Perhaps all you say is true," he insisted. 
"But I'd like to see for myself ." He wore down the authorities 
with his persistence. They gave him carte blanche to investi- 
gate as much as he liked, and shrugged him off. "You'll see," 
they said. 

He did see. And he saw more and saw farther than the 

72 Adventurers for God 

officials In France had suspected. At Saint Laurent-du-Ma- 
roni, the administrative center of the penal colony, he passed 
through gates bearing the proud legend of the homeland, 
"Liberty, Fraternity, Equality." It was the last he saw of 
these principles in this crucified colony of crucified men. 

For three months he poked about the colony. The officials 
wanted to give him a "guided tour," but he insisted on strik- 
ing out for himself, living with the prisoners, talking with 
them, learning their ways of life and death. He went into 
steaming jungle labor camps where men newly come from 
the temperate European climate worked naked and half- 
starved in swampland swarming with mosquitoes and snakes, 
and where sooner or later fever and dysentery got nearly 
every man. He spent nights in blockhouses where 30 to 40 
convicts were locked in each cramped and stifling compart- 
ment, and visited the disciplinary barracks where men be- 
came maniacal after months of solitary confinement. He 
discovered that of the 1000 or more prisoners sent out from 
France yearly less than one tenth lived as long as five 

He spent days at infamous Camp Saint-Jean, the "dead 
end" of the settlement, home of those who had been banished 
for life to the colony. Here men, chained like wild beasts or 
herded together in immoral squalor, were kept in cells and 
blockhouses with the syphilitic, the cancerous, the leprous, 
the tubercular. 

But it was the colony's 2500 Uberes who struck Pean as 
the most pitiful wretches of all. Although these men had 
served their terms as convicts, they were required, under 
France's infamous law of doublage, to remain in the colony 
for a period equal to their sentence if it were less than eight 

The Man Who Conquered Devil's Island 73 

years, or for life if their sentence ran more than eight 
years. Moreover, they had to provide their own passage 
money home. Because there was no way by which a man 
could earn more than a few francs, almost any sentence to 
Devil's Island was for life. 

As convicts, they had at least been lodged, fed and 
clothed. As liberes, they wandered around the shoddy towns 
of Saint-Laurent and Cayenne in tattered rags, their beards 
and hair uncut for weeks, their faces gaunt, desperately 
hunting for scraps to eat. There was a saying current among 
the liberes: "When freedom is gained, then your sentence 

Nearly all tried to escape. Few got away from the colony; 
of those who did, only a handful were ever heard from again. 
Sharks, quicksands or starvation in the jungles claimed the 

Pean found that in all the colony there was no chaplain, 
minister, priest, or even a chapel to bring the consolations of 
religion to these neediest of all men. 

He also discovered that the officials took an airy attitude 
toward reform of any kind. When Prince Napoleon estab- 
lished the colony in 1852, one of his ministers asked, "By 
whom will you have the convicts guarded?" The Prince re- 
plied, "By worse crooks than they are/' That set the pattern, 
and it obtained, with few exceptions, throughout. Many a 
well-meaning governor went to French Guiana for his two- 
year term with big plans and high hopes. But the permanent 
Penal Administration officials there had him beaten before 
he started. They would trump up charges to have him re- 
called, thereby putting a blot on his political career, or under- 
mine his plans through inertia and delay, knowing he would 

74 Adventurers for God 

be transferred after two years while they and their graft- 
went on forever. 

But now, hot with anger at all he had seen, Pean went to 
the current governor of the colony. "It seems impossible in 
this 20th century," he stormed, "that France has more than 
400 employes engaged in a penal service the only result of 
which is the complete physical and moral degradation of 
6000 men!" 

The governor sighed. "I agree with you, Captain. But it's 
no use. This is a little hell no man can conquer." He smiled 
wearily. "Perhaps it's even too big a job for God!" 

"That, Your Excellency," replied Pean, "remains to be 

He returned to France burning not only with anger but 
with tropical fever. For 18 months he was bedridden, and in 
his delirious nights the gaunt, hopeless faces of the Ii"b6res 
haunted him. Finally he arose shakily from his sickbed to 
push his crusade. He drew up a two-part program: first, a 
long-range plan to abolish the settlement; pending that, a 
moral and social reformation plan for the convicts and 
liberes. He wrote articles, spoke at innumerable meetings 
throughout France, haunted official chambers, kept the name 
Devil's Island ablaze in the conscience of government. 

It took Pean three and a half years to win the backing of 
the Ministry of Justice. Then, in 1933, he sailed again for 
French Guiana, this time with three other Salvation Army 
officers. The penal officials at Saint-Laurent greeted his re- 
turn with little enthusiasm. But since he had the backing of 
the Ministry of Justice they gave him their indifferent sup- 
port. After al, they reasoned, he could do little harm and 
perhaps his plan for helping the UMres would take some 

The Man Who Conquered Devil's Island 75 

worry off their minds. He wangled the use of an abandoned 
building and picked workers from the liberes to renovate 
the place and to act as cooks and helpers in the dining room 
and dormitories. One libere, a former Left Bank artist who 
had slain his mistress, painted a sign: "I/Armee Salut Le 
Foyer" (The Salvation Army Home), adding with a flourish 
"The House of Hope." 

The shelter's inaugural was ill-starred. Pean had planned 
to celebrate the opening with a free meal for all comers. But 
when it was time to eat, he discovered that his cooks and 
waiters had found some wine and gone off on a spree. The 
four Salvationists, their faces red, flung off their tunics and 
served the meal to 2000 famished guests while the penal 
officials present smiled knowingly. That night some of the 
"guests" returned and stole the cutlery and china, most of 
the provisions, the workshop tools, and even the cords from 
the flagstaff! 

Undaunted, Pean and his officers began anew. It took two 
months to replace the stolen materials and get the restaurant 
in working order again. Then they started other projects. 
They opened a second home for liberes in Cayenne. In the 
jungle they developed a farm to raise vegetables and meat 
for cafeterias. Carpenter shops were set up to turn out fur- 
niture for the shelters and carved objects for sale abroad. 
Out of virgin jungle Pean and a half-dozen liberes hewed 
a banana plantation which was to supply work for the men 
and profit for the homes. 'There is work for every man who 
wants to earn his keep/* said Pean, and even among these 
hardened and cynical prisoners he found enough help to 
carry on. 

The difficulties were all but insuperable. The colony's 

76 Adventurers for God 

"merchants" who acted as receivers for stolen goods, the 
peddlers o a cheap brand of rum called "tafia," the native 
women, the corrupt prison guards all saw in the Salvation- 
ists a threat to their racket. Anonymous threats invited them 
to leave the colony or else. Clever traps were set to dis- 
credit them. They were waylaid at night by assailants, and 
once Pean's assistant's jaw was broken. Civil magistrates and 
police gave little protection; some even connived with con- 
victs and liber es to rid the colony of these "do-gooders." 

Friendly officers of the penal colony shook their heads at 
Pean's methods of building the felons' faith in him and in 
themselves. An embezzler was put in charge of the accounts; 
a man who had served time for poisoning his wife was made 
cook in one of the shelters; a rapist-killer guarded the home 
of a Salvation Army officer while he was away and his wife 
was alone. But to the liberes the strange tonic of being 
trusted proved morally invigorating. 

Only one failed monumentally, and his remorse drove him, 
like Judas, to commit suicide. This fellow, Guillon by name, 
Pean had fished out of the moral cesspool at the Saint- Jean 
camp, and appointed him accountant at the Saint-Laurent 
shelter. After months of sobriety and apparent rectitude of 
life, Guillon suddenly resigned his job, went to live with a 
Negress, and stayed drunk most of the time something dark 
in his immediate past driving him frantic. He showed up 
one night at the shelter, implored Pean to forgive him, and 
fled sobbing. The next morning his body was found hanging 
from the beams in the Negress* home. On his desk were 
copies of notes he had made daily during his service with 
Pean, notes that recorded every action of the Salvationists 
which he had supplied to certain elements in the colony who 

The Man Who Conquered Devil's Island 77 

were trying to pin something on them. His traitorous act 
had preyed upon Ms mind, and he had made the traitor's 

Religious services were held in the jungle camps and 
blockhouses, and for the liberes. But religion was forced 
down no man's throat. All Pean asked was an honest effort at 
self -saving. And slowly a few converts were made. Pean gave 
them bits of colored ribbon to wear as a steady reminder of 
the new life they had espoused. 

In time the farms, plantations, workshops and shelters were 
financially solvent. Sales of convict-manufactured items 
abroad, plus the royalties from the books Pean wrote on life 
in the colony, supplied Pean with the funds for his long- 
dreamed-of program to repatriate liberes who had served 
their doublage. 

Pean's plan was designed not only to get the liberes home 
but to restore their strength of character so that they would 
become good citizens. 

Pean called his plan "The New Doublage." When a libere 
applied for work, he was told that for his labor he would re- 
ceive lodging, meals and two francs a day. At the end of 
each month he would also receive a coupon worth 40 francs. 
He could exchange this coupon for ready money. But if he 
saved 20 coupons, and thus had 800 francs to his credit, he 
would get in exchange a ticket to France costing 1600 francs. 
Moreover, the Salvation Army would meet him at the docks 
in France and sponsor his new start in life. 

This was a boon not only to the short-termers but also to 
those condemned to perpetual exile for P^an had dug up 
an almost forgotten provision in the law governing doublage 
which stated that any libere who maintained himself for 

78 Adventurers for God 

five years after release from convict status, without having 
attempted escape or otherwise incurred punishment, was 
eligible to leave the colony. Under the old conditions, this 
provision was an empty one, for it had been virtually im- 
possible either to pile up five years* good conduct, to earn a 
living, or to resist escape. 

The relatively few who had been able to get back to 
France had made sorry records. Their moral nature vitiated 
by long residence in such a place and among such compa- 
triots, they were no match for the odds against them in the 
homeland. With no better papers than those stamped with 
the Penal Administration insignia, employment was almost 
impossible to obtain, and they quickly drifted back into 

Pean's scheme if it worked would change all that. Sur- 
prisingly, it did work! 

To men whose every waking thought was of fleeing 
Guiana, the plan offered a huge incentive. Less than two 
years after "The New Doublage" was instituted, the first 
crop of liberes sailed for France. Pean sailed with them. 
"The whole future of your comrades in Guiana, and of the 
colony itself/' he kept reminding them, "depends on you." 
Newsmen met their ship, and editorials the next day pre- 
dicted an immediate crime wave from "Pean's Pariahs." The 
crime wave failed to develop then or later. Pean's pariahs 
came back rehabilitated not only socially but spiritually. By 
1939 he had returned 804 convicts and only three were 
ever in trouble with the police again. 

Meanwhile Pean divided his time between Guiana and 
France, continuing his fight to have the colony abolished. He 
was now recognized as an expert on Devil's Island. He had 

The Man Who Conquered Devil's Island 79 

accomplished not in just a few cases but in wholesale lots, 
and on the toughest of material the thing penologists and 
social scientists had said was impossible. When a commis- 
sion was appointed to draft a law to liquidate the colony, he 
was the only nongovernment member. 

He did not rest here. He knew that the feet of any wide- 
reaching reform move slowly, and that many a measure dies 
within reach of its goal simply because those pushing it stop 
too soon. A half dozen times before, reforms affecting the 
colony had been voted by the Chamber of Deputies only to 
be defeated in the Senate. And each time reports had gone 
out to the world that Devil's Island was to be abolished. 
Even while the proposed law was being drafted, Pean kept 
up his pressure. He blew the trumpets everywhere. The 
Salvation Army arranged mass meetings in Paris and other 
cities, inviting leading members of government to speak, 
putting them on the spot. 

In 1938 the President of France signed a decree forbidding 
sentences to Devil's Island and substituting penal servitude 
in a standard penitentiary. Convicts already in Guiana were 
to stay there until their sentences were served, but then they 
could leave. The colony, it was thought, would be gradually 
depopulated during the next ten years. 

The war interrupted Pean's work; he was trapped in 
France by the German invaders. Unknown to him, however, 
the De Gaulle government-in-exile put most of his ideas into 
effect. And early in 1946 came the official order to liquidate 
the colony. 

Pean was the government's unanimous choice to supervise 
the liquidation. With his commission in his pocket, "the hap- 
piest document I ever carried," he arrived at Saint-Laurent 

80 Adventurers for God 

on Good Friday. Nobody had known of his coming, but the 
news spread quickly. Convicts and liberes came from miles 
around to spread flowers in Ms path and welcome him like 
a conquering hero. Pean was so moved that tears rolled down 
his cheeks. 

On Easter Sunday a mass meeting was held in his honor. 
From a rude platform Pean looked out over the great crowd 
of men for whose saving he had given 18 years of his life. 
On his breast was pinned the ribbon of an Officer of the 
Legion of Honor. The closing words of the citation that went 
with it read: "He has the soul of an apostle" 

But when he attempted to speak to the crowd he had no 
apostolic message. All he could murmur was: "How fitting 
that this meeting should be held on Easter Sunday!" 

His voice broke, and he got no further. But it was enough. 
His pariahs understood. 

Merrell Varies of Japan 

like Miracle of me 

D /H II P? 


On a chill February day back in 1905 a young American, 
fired with an offbeat concept o missionary service, stepped 
from a rattletrap train at a remote village in rural Japan, 
plopped his satchel down on the deserted platform, and was 
swept momentarily with a sense of his own folly. Backed by 
no church or mission board, he had abandoned a promising 
career as an architect to take a post as English teacher at a 
commercial academy. 

He shucked off his misgivings by reminding himself of the 
two-pronged point he had come 7000 miles to prove: (1) 
that Christianity always makes a far bigger impact "where 
it is talked the least, lived the most," and (2) that a self- 
supporting layman could demonstrate religion's practical 
application to society far more effectively than could any 

Having spent his last borrowed dollar to get here, under- 
standing not a word of the Japanese language, he scarcely 
knew how he would go about proving his point. But, given 
a spirit of utter dedication, he was sure a means could be 
found . . . 

Today, more than a half century later, the name and fame 


82 Adventurers for God 

of William Merrell Vories is known throughout the Far East. 
Toyohiko Kagawa has called him "Japan's greatest Chris- 
tian." And the "Omi Brotherhood" he founded has been 
heralded by such American religious leaders as Dr. Glenn 
Clark as "the most remarkable missionary adventure of 
modern times." 

Tools of the Omi Brotherhood, in which more than 1000 
Japanese Christians live and work communally, are not pul- 
pits and churches but factories and schools. It owns proper- 
ties valued at $1,700,000, conducts commercial enterprises 
grossing more than a million dollars annually; and its archi- 
tectural department, busiest in all Japan, has designed and 
built some 2800 buildings. 

Yet the Brotherhood is a community where nobody works 
for personal profit; where everyone, from top managerial 
brains to humblest laborer, exerts himself according to his 
best ability and is paid only according to his barest needs 
for one purpose: to demonstrate that Christian principles 
are as workable in daily life as they are decorative to Sunday 

From Vories' zeal ( and Brotherhood profits from its com- 
mercial enterprises) have come, among other things: one of 
the most progressive school systems in the Far East; a large 
TB sanatorium, finest and most modern in Japan; a YMCA 
through which pass thousands of boys and men annually; 
an evangelistic department that has founded 13 churches, 
supports scores of ministers and full-time workers serving 
23 other preaching places and 36 Sunday schools involving 
2500 pupils, and runs a unique "Find Christ by Mail" proj- 
ect that reaches into virtually every home in Japan. 

In Omi-Hachiman recently, I was shown through this 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 83 

amazing community by Merrell Vories himself. A wispy little 
man with the poundage of a jockey and the mystical drive 
of a saint, he modestly told me how his dream had mush- 

Born into a devout family that often entertained mission- 
aries on home leave, Vories contracted in his teens "a vague 
itch to sashay off to far places and save the world." He kept 
the irritation under control, however, by developing a coun- 
ter-itch for architecture. Attending Colorado College, he 
sidestepped the challenges of Student Volunteer Movement 
recruiters by saying, "I'm going to be an architect, make a 
lot of money; then I can support a half dozen missionaries." 

But before his graduation he recognized this for what it 
was: a dodge. When he heard of the martyrdom of Chinese 
Christians during the Boxer uprising, then raging, an ac- 
cusing voice seemed to say, "They willingly give their heads 
for their faith; you're not willing to give up even your 

That did it. He would be a missionary but not in the 
usual mold. He felt no call to the ministry. Like Socrates the 
stone-cutter, or Paul the tent-maker, he would support him- 
self by some convenient vocation, make evangelism his avo- 
cation. To friends he said, "If I can only find some spot too 
inconspicuous to appeal to any other missionary, IH go to 
the ends of the earth!" 

He almost did. Learning through the International YMCA 
that a teacher of English was wanted by a town deep in 
Japan's hinterland named Omi-Hachiman, he told his family, 
"It's come, my dream job!" And borrowing $250 from his 
father for a one-way passage to Japan, he set out. 

In Tokyo he was warned, "You're going to a stronghold of 

84 Adventurers for God 

fanatical Buddhism, whose priests won't look with benevo- 
lence on any Christian proselytizing you hope to do. But 
it's virgin soil; you'll have three-quarters of a million people 
all to yourself!" 

Arrived at Omi-Hachiman after a 17-hour train ride, he 
trudged off to the house set aside for him a 300-year-old 
shack that had quartered a swift succession of his predeces- 
sors. That first night an earthquake rattled its boards, and 
shivering alone in the bare, nine-room structure, he wrote 
in his diary, "Homesick, cold, lonely. But here!" 

His loneliness melted fast when, three days later, he 
began classes at the academy. Intrigued by having a "genu- 
ine American" in their midst, his students tagged him around 
after class, followed him home. He invited them to make his 
house their rendezvous, introduced them to dominoes and 
Flinch, spent all his salary on refreshments for his guests. 

After a few days, he announced the start of Bible study, 
expecting a half dozen; 45 showed up for the first class. 
Within a few weeks he had four groups going, with 322 
enrolled. If Bible study palled, his blackboard could be 
flipped over to become a Ping-pong table. 

When several of the boys became Christians, Vories invited 
them to come live with him, sharing expenses. Soon his 
"family" included eight of the academy's leaders, with others 
begging to get in. 

With his house bursting at the seams with eager young- 
sters, Vories knew he had to expand. Why not open a YMCA? 
A letter to 30 friends in America brought enough to start; a 
successful dairyman in Kyoto, a native of Omi who had 
become a Christian, contributed a choice lot. Soon Vories 
had his student center under construction, with dormitory 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 85 

space for converts and adequate rooms for Bible study and 

Buddhist priests, alarmed, incited school roughnecks to 
dragoon the rival faith. Boys known to be attending the Bible 
classes were lampooned, assaulted with baseball bats, pushed 
into the canal. But when Vories advised his boys to take their 
persecution in good grace, to pray for their persecutors, the 
fight went out of the bullies; intrigued, several became con- 
verts themselves. 

The priests then instituted a vicious drive to get Vories 
dismissed from his teaching post, pressuring the province's 
leading newspaper to run a series of articles denouncing 
Christianity and Vories. Their campaign succeeded. At the 
end of his second year at the academy, the axe fell: his con- 
tract was not renewed. 

Out of a job, Vories took stock of his situation. Everything 
he'd earned had gone into the YMCA building. Before the 
whole province he was branded a pernicious influence. 
Bleakly he reflected that not even Job had been more 
thoroughly stripped and left sitting in the ashes of his hopes. 

But when he remembered how his boys had stood up 
under persecution, saw them now waiting loyally to join his 
next move, he rebounded with zest. One of his first converts 
offered to share his living allowance, 17 yen ($8.50) per 
month; others contributed as they were able. Vories himself 
managed to get odd jobs tutoring; at nights he laid out the 
format of a little publication he named "The Mustard Seed," 
sent it to American friends inviting subscriptions. The maga- 
zine's first issue graphically described his new building, en- 
thusiastically stated his hopes and dreams. It contained no 
mention of his dismissal ("I didn't want to begin with bad 

86 Adventurers for God 

news!"). Many promptly subscribed at $1 a year, providing 
enough dollars to stave off disaster. 

Then one night, while sleeplessly pondering how he might 
further undergird his wobbly mission, the thought came: 
Why not put his knowledge of architecture to work? Taking 
this night-blooming notion to be the voice of God, he leapt 
out of bed to awaken his associates, saying, "We'll form an 
architectural firm!" 

The next morning he cleared a space in the dormitory, 
dug out an old set of drawing instruments he'd brought 
along, rigged up a drawing table, started classes in drafting, 
and announced grandly that the new architectural firm of 
"W. M. Vories & Co." was in business. 

To the objection that there was little future for a firm 
centered in an unknown country town, he replied, "The 
most remote place, if it be the place where God has placed 
us, offers ample field for the best we possess." 

His first student-draftsman was a convert from one of the 
early Bible classes. Following Vories' use of the beatitude 
"Blessed are the pure in heart" as an introductory to a slash- 
ing attack on local prostitution, the boy had risen to wist- 
fully ask, "Teacher, how can I become a pure man?" It was 
a good question: he lived in a notorious brothel owned by 
his uncle, was being trained to take over as manager. Vories 
had brought him to his house to live; he later became one 
of the Brotherhood's founders. 

The firm's start coincided, happily, with a rising boom in 
Western-style buildings. In earthquaky Japan, Vories learned 
to build so as to absorb the shocks; soon he was erecting 
structures that stood while others toppled, in time grappling 
with more orders than he could handle. 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 87 

In later years, after his firm was doing more business 
than any other in Japan, he would recall, "With reluctance 
I'd abandoned my dream of becoming an architect, feeling 
I'd wasted all those years of study. Isn't that just like God? 
He asks us to give up a selfish ambition, then gives it back 
to us, saying, 'Use it for My sake!' " 

Vories and his growing group of co-workers agreed to 
live co-operatively, pooling their resources, sharing equally 
all responsibility, taking from their earnings only bare living 
expenses, turning back all the rest into evangelism. Finings 
and week-ends they left their drawing boards for villages 
crowding the shores of 40-mile-long Lake Biwa, setting up 
Sunday schools and Bible classes which grew into churches. 
To supply the new churches with leadership, promising 
young converts were sent off to seminaries to be trained as 

Until Vories came to Omi Province (now Shiga Prefec- 
ture) there was not in all its 1616 square miles a single 
permanent Christian church. Before long he had several con- 
gregations going full tilt, each with its own building and 

Growth was so rapid that shortly Vories was sighing, "We 
planned to advance on our knees; we seem to be racing on 
our tiptoes!" 

Pattern for all others was the church in Omi-Hachiman, 
established in Vories' third year. From the first he insisted 
that it be self-supporting, indigenously led. Even plate col- 
lections were abolished when, one Sunday while playing the 
offertory on the organ, he noted in a mirror the embarrass- 
ment of some worshipers too poor to give. To the church 
committee he said, "Making people give because they are 

88 Adventurers for God 

ashamed to be seen not giving is not good." Thereafter all 
church expenses were met by secret but systematic pledges 
by members. 

Meanwhile, Vories used his architectural services for 
"evangelizing" of another sort. To all clients he made it clear 
that "Christian principles will be applied to every job from 
drawing board to completed structure/' and that such 
principles ruled out all "bribes, commissions, gifts." Aghast, 
members of Japan's traditionally graft-ridden building trades 
debated among themselves whether he was crazy or just 

One holding the latter belief discovered his mistake when 
Vories sought bids for a large school he had designed. A 
few hours before the sealed bids were to be opened, this 
bidder dropped by to say coyly, "If I get the job there will 
be 100,000 yen ($50,000) in it for you." Flushing with anger, 
Vories thrust the sealed envelopes toward him, saying, "Find 
yours, and take it back. YouVe eliminated yourself!" 

Early clients were equally aghast to learn that Vories' 
"Christian principles" called for no Sunday work and a 44- 
hour week. He argued and proved that a man does better 
work, and more of it, when he has time off to spend with 
his family. 

One to whom he proved it was the president of a large 
Osaka bank for whom he had designed a $2 million building. 
Learning that Vories was imposing his 8-hour day, no-Sun- 
day-work rule, the banker stormed: "We'll be delayed for 
weeks getting in. Do you realize what that will cost us in 
interest to say nothing in prestige?" Vories only shrugged, 
"111 retire in favor of another firm if you like." Impatiently 
the banker replied, "I'm only asking you to make an ex- 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood 89 

ception in our case." To which Vories rejoined, smiling, "If 
I compromise now on what I know is a sound principle, com- 
promising might get to be a habit; I might even find myself 
taking a few extra thousands in graft from, the contractor!" 
The banker gave up; the building was finished weeks ahead 
of the contract deadline. 

Vories exulted, "We're building more than buildings!" 

By 1948 his architectural firm had established branch 
offices in Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Mukden, Peking. 

Among the 2800 buildings he has constructed are some of 
the largest and most modern in Japan. A sample is the 
famous Daimaru department store in Osaka, occupying a 
square block and costing more than $10 million. Its owner, 
having visited in America and England, returned to tell 
Vories, "Build me the biggest and most lavish store in the 
world." Vories did. Another monument to his handiwork is 
the new International Christian University in Tokyo. 

In 1909 he formed the Omi Sales Co., Ltd., a firm for im- 
porting building materials not available in Japan. He quickly 
expanded the firm's scope when, in America the following 
year to make business contacts, he met A. A. Hyde, founder 
of the Mentholatum Company. Fascinated, Hyde listened to 
his story, then said, "You say you need some bigger industry 
to supply jobs for converts. Why not distribute my product? 
You can have the exclusive rights and the profits." 

Hurrying back to Japan with a few cases of Mentholatum, 
Vories ran head-on into the pharmaceutical combine. When 
druggists refused to stock the product, he talked Christian 
organizations into selling it, gave them the profits. When 
demand became brisk, druggists came begging. By 1930 sales 
were so huge that Hyde suggested, "Why not make Men- 

90 Adventurers for God 

tholatum as well as distribute it? You furnish the building, 
I'll furnish the machinery and the formula." 

Vories designed a model factory, hired hundreds of work- 
ers, plunged into wholesale production, and eventually some 
30,000 stores were selling eight millon packages a year. 

With the adding of more departments and more worker- 
converts, Vories knew he must give form as well as spirit to 
his Omi mission. But what form? He wanted no transcenden- 
tal colony or monastic retreat, but a community that would 
be "a practical demonstration of Christianized economics 
working in the world today." To remove any suggestion of 
foreign control or denominational bias, one of his first 
acts was to change the name from "mission" to Brother- 

The form he adopted was virtually what it is today. Mem- 
bership in the Brotherhood is limited to the number of work- 
ers needed in the various departments evangelistic, indus- 
trial, educational and open only to those willing to subscribe 
to its aims and ideals. Whatever one's job, as top executive 
or common laborer, his wages are according to his living 
needs, no more, no less. The average Brotherhood wage is 
$62 a month. For emergencies the Brotherhood provides 
from its common treasury. All policies and decisions are 
made by a 12-man Executive Committee, whose members 
are elected for two-year terms, act as chairmen of the ruling 
body in alphabetical rotation, report its actions and decisions 
to the Brotherhood's monthly meeting. 

To conform to Japanese law, three different forms of 
incorporation were necessary: one each for the strictly reli- 
gious and philanthropic activities, the industrial department, 
the architectural section. All earnings, however, go into a 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 91 

common treasury which dispenses departmental appropria- 
tions as needed. 

Close-knit as are the members, they do not live in clannish 
solitude from their Omi neighbors. Only a few families own 
or rent homes in the compound. Vories made no rules against 
ownership of property, though he himself never wanted to. 
When, on his 70th birthday, the Brotherhood planned to 
build a home for him, he stopped them saying, "You can't 
build for everyone. I don't want anything that any other 
member can't have.'' 

Vories' paternal solicitude for his workers was revolution- 
ary. When he came, Japan's switch from feudalism to the 
machine age had just begun. There were as yet no labor 
unions, no fair-wage laws. Workers were a commodity to 
be bought at the cheapest price, worked incredibly long 
hours, were discarded when exhausted. 

Against the background of such evils Vories framed the 
Brotherhood's cardinal principles: "(1) Labor should be a 
part of any industrial organization, not just an outside com- 
modity to be bought like raw materials; (2) excessive sal- 
aries to ornamental officials should be eliminated or dras- 
tically cut; (3) industry should concentrate on producing 
commodities that are needed, of good quality and at reason- 
able prices with service to society as the prime goal." 

The Brotherhood's plants have never known a walkout or 
strike. Member-workers are free to leave, through dissatis- 
faction or for higher pay, at any time. Few ever have. 

When Communists came to Omi, foraging for discontent, 
they found little to work on, went away sourly saying, 'The 
Brotherhood has beaten us to it." 

To Vories the Brotherhood's astounding financial success 

92 Adventurers for God 

was gratifying, but incidental. He told his workers, "What 
we produce, in goods or profits, is not of prime importance. 
Most important is how and why we live and work as we do. 
The Brotherhood is not an argument for Christianity; it's a 

He was a stickler for high standards of personal conduct. 
Only once did he have to crack down in 1918, when four 
younger members of the Brotherhood were caught in a 
morality lapse. He dramatically announced that, as an act 
of public contrition, the entire Brotherhood was being dis- 
solved for three days, with offices closed and all work sus- 
pended. It would be reestablished only when all members 
voluntarily returned "with a renewed pledge to the central 
purpose of the movement." The action made nationwide 
news, purged the Brotherhood once and for all, gave him a 
chance to express his thesis that "only an organization that 
stands ready to kill itself for the sake of its principles is 
qualified to live." 

I walked through the Brotherhood's model factories and 
office buildings, situated on a beautifully landscaped 3-acre 
compound. Factory rooms are light and airy, equipped with 
modern machinery. Workers pursue tasks to soft music 
piped in, eat in a shiny cafeteria, purchase food and house- 
hold needs at a large commissary Vories calls his "super- 
market," relax on playgrounds and in indoor gyms and 
recreation rooms. 

A happy religious atmosphere pervades the whole com- 
pound. Bible study rooms occupy every free space. Each 
day's work begins with a devotional service in a large chapel 
atop the main building. On the chapel's walls the factory 
motto enjoins all to "Make Today Better Than Yesterday/' 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 93 

and prayer is offered "that we might perform our work as 
unto Thee." 

In later years industrialists came from all over Japan to 
marvel at the factories' modern design, study its manage- 
ment. Many invited Vories to redesign their own plants, 
lecture their management on methods of making workers 
happier in their work. This gave him further chance to preach 
on Christian incentive which, he said, "disproves the ancient 
theory of economists that only the hope of personal gain can 
induce human beings to exert themselves in productive 

To visitors puzzled over the Brotherhood's success, Vories 
once said, "Either this is a work of God, demonstrating what 
can be accomplished by the least able of mortals responsive 
to His leading, or it is a preposterous combination of lucky 
chances' befalling a group of self-deluded cranks. Take your 

A good example of how Vories made the Brotherhood's 
every enterprise carry its message is its "Mentholatum evan- 
gelism." Printed on every package is a note inviting inquiries 
about Christianity. More than 6000 came during the first 
year, resulting in the formation of a "correspondence course 
in the Christian faith." Enrollees among prisoners alone 
number up to 1200 at a time. Others taking the course pay 
only a small sum to help with the mailing costs; they may 
also participate in the Brotherhood's 3000-volume circulating 
library, paying only the return postage on books borrowed. 
Because of the thousands of converts thus made, Menthola- 
tum is known in rural Japan as "the Jesus medicine." Few 
converts are "quickies"; one man studied the course for 30 
years before becoming a Christian. 

94 Adventurers for God 

Today the Correspondence Evangelism Department em- 
ploys a large staff including a dozen specially trained pastors. 
The department head, Jisaburo Yamamoto, has his own 
story of dramatic conversion through Vories' hound-of- 
heaven persistence. 

Yamamoto was one of Vories' first Bible class members 
50 years ago. Upon learning of the boy's conversion to Chris- 
tianity, his father, a prominent dealer in sake (Japan's fiery 
drink made from fermented rice), demanded he come home, 
prepare to succeed him in the family business. Yamamoto 
left with Vories' angry words ringing in his ears: "If you 
told me you're too weak to resist, I'd understand. But when 
you tell me you're going to make your living making others 
miserable, we'll have to part company." 

One day, 15 years later, Vories and some tourist friends 
were checking out of a seaside resort when the inn-keeper 
told him the hotel had been engaged for a convention of 
sake-mskers. At the wharf, Vories was going through the 
gate to his ship when a horde of delegates debarked. At their 
head was Yamamoto. Red-faced, his former pupil stam- 
mered, "Teacher, forgive me. I must chair this conven- 
tion, but when it's over, I will close down my sake busi- 

Stubbornly, Vories blocked the gate, created a scene, coldly 
said, "If you pass through this gate you will go to hell." 
When Yamamoto hesitated, he said, "Come with me; let's 
talk it over." Yamamoto spent most of the night with Vories; 
the next day, accompanied by Vories, he returned home to 
publicly announce a change of occupation. To a big public 
meeting called to inform his employees and townsmen, Ya- 
mamoto said simply, "I disgraced my old teacher. But he 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood' 95 

loved me so much he was willing to make a fool of himself 
to save me." 

The TB sanatorium got its start when, one day in 1917, 
a TB-ridden Buddhist priest named Kanyru Endo suddenly 
appeared at Vories' door. Disgusted by the immorality of his 
fellow-priests, Endo-san had left his temple nearby, was 
wandering aimlessly near Omi-Hachiman when, pausing to 
rest at a roadside station erected by the Brotherhood for 
weary travelers, his curiosity had been aroused by a sign, 
"Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest." 

The priest and Voiles spent most of the night arguing 
heatedly the relative merits of their faiths. Finally Vories 
said, "This is pretty futile, isn't it? Tell you what, stay with 
us for six months. We'll both agree not to mention religion, 
much less try to convert each other. If your life demon- 
strates the superiority of your faith, I'll become a Buddhist. 
But if, on the other hand, you find our brand of Christianity 
has merit, well . . ." 

The priest agreed, was given a light job in the drafting 
office. One day Endo-san rose in a Brotherhood prayer meet- 
ing to say, "I have found a real faith at last; may I be bap- 
tized?" A few months later, contracting pneumonia, he lay 
dying. His last request to Vories: "Why not start a sanatorium 
for TB patients? Even if you can't cure them, you can give 
them the peace I've found." 

Acquiring a plot of land on a sunny hillside, Vories built 
the sanatorium's first unit early in 1918. Its first resident 
physician was an early convert who had left the community 
to go through the Imperial University, became a doctor, re- 
turned to serve the Brotherhood. 

96 Adventurers for God 

Today the sanatorium has 180 beds, 37 buildings covering 
several acres, treats hundreds of patients annually for only 
the cost of their food, is credited with sparking scores of 
similar institutions throughout Japan. To it come health 
authorities from all over the Far East, modeling their institu- 
tions on its architecture and methods of treating Japan's 
age-old killer. 

The Brotherhood's progressive school system likewise arose 
out of an important event in Vories' life: his marriage in 
1919. Called to Tokyo to design a residence for a nobleman, 
he soon found himself in love with his client's younger sister, 
Maki Hitotsuyanagi. Daughter of a Daiymo, feudal ruler of 
a large province, Maki had spent nine years in the States, 
was educated at Bryn Mawr College. Their marriage caused 
consternation among Japan's nobility. It was permitted 
only after 18 months of "negotiations" and final sanction of 
the Imperial Household. 

The wedding ceremony was performed in a college chapel 
Vories had constructed; the reception held in the nobleman's 
residence he'd designed; the honeymoon spent in a mountain 
resort cottage he'd built for Omi workers. "Surely," he ex- 
claimed happily, "no architect could ask for happier settings 
for the greatest event in his life!" 

Vories brought his bride back to an Omi fearful of what 
the induction of this dainty daughter of the aristocracy might 
do to the humble Brotherhood. The members' worries les- 
sened when Merrell and Maki went to live in the poorest of 
the OB's outstations, vanished entirely when she refused 
servants, insisting on doing her own housework in its tumble- 
down cottage. 

With MaM in charge, Vories' long plans of an educational 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood* 97 

system for his Brotherhood went into high gear. In short 
order she created a rash of playgrounds, nursery schools, 
kindergartens, night schools for workers. She also introduced 
high school courses within the OB's plants where, in five 
large classrooms, 120 girl employees work five hours, study 
three, are paid for eight. 

Today, in a modern educational plant donated by Mrs. A. 
A. Hyde of Wichita, Kansas, 450 students from kindergarten 
through senior high school study under the most advanced 
pedagogical methods, taught entirely by 43 full-time Chris- 
tian teachers. Object of the thriving educational program: 
"to train Christian leaders for the Japan of tomorrow." 

By 1940 Vories had seen his Brotherhood zoom into na- 
tional prominence, more than validating his most roseate 
vision. A large Tokyo newspaper named him "not only first 
citizen of Omi-Hachiman but among the first in all Japan." 

But he got his biggest kick out of the complete switch of 
sentiment that had occurred in Omi-Hachiman itself. From 
the old academy that summarily dismissed him years before 
came repeated invitations to lecture on Christian ethics. 
When in 1934 the academy needed public support to build 
a new plant, he was asked to head the list of subscribers. 
Knowing he had no money of his own, the Brotherhood 
subscribed $5000 for him, saying, "Now youVe got revenge 
on those who fired you a Christian revenge!" 

Buddhists no longer picture Vories with horns and cloven 
hoofs. One of the last to surrender was a wealthy man named 
Nishikawa, owner of an expansive 300-year-old ancestral man- 
sion in Omt One day, hearing that Nishikawa was critically 
ill of diabetes, Vories rushed over with a supply of insulin, 
saved his life. Amazed, the crusty old Buddhist demanded, 

98 Adventurers for God 

"Why do you do this for me, your old enemy?" Vories smiled, 
"Were you? I didn't know/* Before his death Nishikawa 
transferred his residence to the Brotherhood for use as a 
dormitory for students. 

Vories was proudest of all that his Brotherhood succeeded 
in becoming self-supporting and self -directing. He bridled a 
bit when some missionaries, comfortably backed by home 
boards, wondered aloud whether Ms mission would not die 
with him. He replied, "The very question predicates the old 
mistaken idea of a mission. If it is to send out an endless 
line of sectarian foreigners to control and direct native work- 
ers, to live aloof from the people, and to dispense foreign 
money in perpetuity, then missions had better stay away." 

As for the "permanency" of his life-work, he wrote with 
some asperity in his book The Omi Brotherhood in Nippon: 
"What if a mission is not permanent? We have no desire to 
perpetuate anything after its work is accomplished. On the 
other hand, if ours is a true brotherhood indigenous, self- 
supporting, untainted with overlapping or compromising 
connections with classes and castesits permanency should 
take care of itself." 

Thus far it has. 

In 1940 Vories applied for naturalization as a Japanese 
citizen. The process took seven months; in January 1941 he 
got his official papers. Eleven months later came Pearl Har- 
bor, precipitating him into his deepest Gethsemane. 

Though Omi-Hachiman was not bombed, the war took its 
toll. The Brotherhood's industries were retarded, its educa- 
tional program disrupted, its religious activities hampered. 
Younger members were drafted, many killed. Only the armed 
forces' need for Mentholatum saved the factory from confis- 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood? 99 

cation and the membership from dissolution. The TB sana- 
torium was taken over for a military hospital; the OB's 
presses, used for printing its flood of books and evangelical 
literature, were junked for scrap iron. The military clique, 
moving in to mobilize the community's resources, conscripted 
school children and older workers for labor in food production 
and war factories, prohibited use of the English language, 
ordered all citizens to bow before Shinto shrines. 

When Vories objected, the military spread the suggestion 
that he was an American spy, started a whispering campaign 
that disturbed the prefectural governor and police officials, 
made the whole Brotherhood suspect. However, when the 
vicious rumor reached Tokyo the emperor promptly scotched 
it by sending his brother, Prince Tagamatsu, to Omi-Hachi- 
man the first time a member of the Imperial family had 
visited the prefecture. The governor heard the prince say of 
the Brotherhood, "This would be possible under any other 
auspices than Christianity," later became a Christian himself. 

To prevent further suspicion from touching his Brother- 
hood, Vories accepted an offer from Tokyo and Kyoto uni- 
versities to teach a course in advanced English started years 
before by Lafcadio Hearn. He found, to his delight, that the 
deans of both were Christians, and that most students in his 
crowded classes were unaffected by the jingoists, interested 
both in America and Christianity. He managed to make sev- 
eral converts among them, was vastly cheered to find that 
such evangelizing could be done "right in the midst of war." 

Vories spent the last seven months of the war at Karui- 
zawa, a mountain resort where the Brotherhood maintained 
an architectural office. Here food was scarce, and he and 
Maid were often forced to forage in the hills for edible leaves 

100 Adventurers for God 

and weeds. But also at Karuizawa was the summer villa of 
the Crown Prince who, learning of their need, often shared 
his food with them. Vories, who never missed a chance to talk 
and pray with members of the royal family, finally succeeded 
in converting Prince Masohito, the emperor's second son. 

The war's abrupt end brought Vories a rare opportunity to 
serve both his native and adopted lands. From Prince Konoe, 
former prime minister who had been ousted by the military 
clique, came a message: "Will you act as liaison between the 
new government and the American occupation authority?" 

For the next several weeks Vories, a little man in a big 
black limousine, shuttled between the Imperial Palace and 
General MacArthur's headquarters, interpreting the con- 
quered to the conquerors, helping turn a land long held in 
the brutal grip of military exploiters into a vital democracy. 

Under MacArthur's benevolent reforms, strongly under- 
scored with religious faith, Vories found the Japanese clam- 
orous to learn more about Christianity. An avalanche of in- 
vitations implored him to lecture in colleges, conduct evan- 
gelistic services, confer with government officials on the 
"spiritual aspects of democracy." He went everywhere, call- 
ing America's announced principles for the rebuilding of 
Japan "a bomb immeasurably greater than any ever dropped 
the super-bomb of Christian love." 

Summoned on several occasions to the Imperial Palace 
to "explain Christian democracy" to the Emperor, he said on 
one occasion, "Democracy, your majesty, is co-operation. Is it 
not significant that even our Japanese character for the word 
'co-operation' has a Christian cross at its center?" 

An impressive example of his contribution to the snobless 
social order decreed under Japan's new constitution occurred 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood 9 101 

in the spring of 1947. Its beneficiary was the Eta (meaning 
"unclean") class, Japan's equivalent of India's "untouch- 
ables/' As butchers and tanners, Buddhist aversion to animal 
killing had for centuries forced them into segregated villages, 
Now declared by law equal to any, elements among the Eta 
in villages surrounding Omi became outlaws, raiding main- 
line trains, robbing passengers, spreading terror, defying 

Frantic railway officials finally appealed to Vories. He told 
them, "We'll tackle the problem if you and the police prom- 
ise to keep your hands off. Give me a list of the leaders." 

For the leaders of the eight gangs Merrell and Jvlaki 
planned tea parties for eight successive Sunday afternoons, 
sending out formal invitations. On the first Sunday morning 
a young tough appeared. "Our leader can't come," he mut- 
tered. Invited in, he warily looked about for police. When 
by the second round of teas and cakes his belligerence had 
melted, Vories said amicably, "I asked you and your friends 
here because I need your help. I'm told there is much cor- 
ruption among the police. I thought you could help us get 
the facts." 

After hours during which the bandit vented his spleen 
against society, then stayed for lunch, a commotion suddenly 
arose outside. The entire gang was at the gate, shouting 
and brandishing sticks, obviously come to deliver their "cap- 
tured" emissary. Merrell and Maki, the subdued ruffian be- 
tween them, went to the gate, bowed them in. They swag- 
gered inside, listened suspiciously to Vories' project. He said, 
"Everybody says you men are brave and strong, fearing no- 
body, not even the police." Then he added, "If you help 
me with this, I promise to do all I can to remove the disgrace- 

102 Adventurers for God 

ful discrimination you and your people have suffered so long. 
Think it over. Meanwhile, our house is open to you. Bring 
your friends, any time." 

During the next seven weeks, members of the gangs fil- 
tered in and out, savoring the arm-in-arm Vories friendliness, 
awed by their gracious acceptance by a lady of the nobility. 

Nothing was said about railroad banditry until, finally, one 
gang leader volunteered, "Guess you've heard about those 
train robberies. We might help. But people won't trust us; 
they'll think we're gangsters." Vories replied, "I can fix that." 

To railroad officials the next day he said casually, "I'm 
appointing some special police to ride the roads. I need 
passes and official armbands for these men." The officials 
glanced at his list and gasped, "But these are the very gang- 
sters who've been terrorizing our trains!" Vories nodded. 
"Exactly," he said. 

A few days later he distributed passes, armbands and 
assignments, then waited to see what would happen. Almost 
overnight all violence ceased. When it was plain that there 
would be no reoccurrence, the astounded railway heads 
asked, "How can we reward these men?" Vories replied, "As 
you would any other good citizens. Give them citations of 
appreciation publicly." 

The meeting, aglitter with formality and eloquent speeches 
by pref ectural officials, followed by bowing and handshaking 
between police and former bandits, was the season's big 
event. All over the prefecture, the story of "When the bandits 
came to tea" became legend. 

Having dramatized Eta fitness for integration into polite 
society, Vories moved to keep his promise. When leaders of 
a village with a segregated community asked him to lecture 

The Miracle of the "Omi Brotherhood" 103 

on "Democracy and Christianity" he accepted on condition 
that the meeting be held in the Eta section. The former 
bandits spread word that "outsiders" were coming, promoted 
a mammoth clean-up campaign. Every street and gutter 
was scrubbed clean, every house made pin-neat. Visitors, 
astonished, returned to their communities after the meeting 
to say that they had misjudged the Eta, that ostracism for 
such people made no sense. 

A few months later a "culture society" for youth, formed 
by the ex-gangsters, was invited to amalgamate with a simi- 
lar group of the adjoining village. A big formal ceremony, 
held in the school auditorium, celebrated the event. Lauda- 
tory telegrams poured in from members of the central gov- 
ernment in Tokyo. Newspapers throughout the country re- 
ported it as "a historic day for Japan's long-neglected 
minority group." 

With equal facility Vories blunted the busy sickles of 
Communism when, after the war, Red activity broke out in 
Japan's universities. One night in 1947 the leader of a vigor- 
ous cell at Kyoto's Imperial University came to his door, 
tartly saying, "I'm an atheist and a Communist; you prob- 
ably won't let me in." Vories replied with disarming friend- 
liness, "Why not? I take it we're both interested in the same 
things: helping people to a better life." 

After patient listening for hours to the Communist's glitter- 
ing version of Red aims, Vories said, "It all sounds good. 
Perhaps you have some place where your principles have 
been practically applied a sort of showcase I could look 
at?" When his visitor stammered, "Well, no not yet/' he 
said: "But we have. Come and see." 

The young Red toured the Brotherhood's industrial depart- 

104 Adventurers for God 

ments, studied Its social and economic platform, questioned 
the workers, went away impressed. A few days later lie 
returned with the cell's full executive committee. Shortly 
all nine were converted, turned their group into a Christian 
cell instead! After graduation, the young leader went into the 
tanning industry, today operates a large plant whose princi- 
ples are modeled carefully after the Brotherhood's. 

I could find nobody in Japan who ever heard Vories ques- 
tion the impulse that, a half century ago, dispatched him 
across the seas into this place. He began without a dollar to 
his name. "I still have no personal bank account," he told 
me, "nor any expectation of ever having, nor any regret at 
not having/* 

His serenity over his "bank-accountless" state was a puz- 
zler to some. One day, dining with a friend of substance at 
a swank New York club, he was told, "Merrell ? you're the 
biggest fool I ever met! You could have been a millionaire 
and you don't even own the house you live in!" Vories' 
blue eyes twinkled, his thin face creasing in a smile, as he 
pulled out some pictures of his Brotherhood, spread them on 
the table, said quietly, "Who says Tm not wealthy?" 

My visit to Omi coincided with the Brotherhood's annual 
memorial service. Timed each year for the period when 
cherry blossoms are in fullest bloom, the impressive ceremony 
was established years ago in answer to Buddhist taunts that 
"Christians do not honor their dead." Its site is a park-like 
spot called "The Place of Perpetual Peace," at the base of a 
hill topped by a lovely marble mausoleum. 

We stood together beneath a pure white canopy stamped 
with the Omi symbol and garlanded with flowers, watched 
the assembly robed in their colorful kimonos, listened as they 

The Miracle of the "Qmi Brotherhood?* 105 

sang hymns redolent of the Resurrection hope. The singing 
could be heard for miles around. 

Then, at the service's climax, when those carrying the 
napkin-wrapped urns containing ashes of their dead started 
up the winding stone steps, climbing through lacy rows of 
cherry blossoms toward the mausoleum high above, Vories 
said softly: 

"When the time comes for what's left of my mortal body 
to make that trip, I'd like for the Brotherhood to be singing, 
as they're singing now, *O happy day that fixed my 
choice' . . ." 

William Cameron Totonsend and 
his "Wycliffe Bible Translators" 

Tnpi j np JL C^ 

wo 1 Ja0M<am<dl 1 omsucs to vJo 

When the boa constrictor struck, Loretta Anderson, a 
slight young woman from Paterson, New Jersey, was sitting 
alone in her dugout canoe beside an Indian settlement on the 
Morona River, deep in the Peruvian jungle. Her partner Lila 
Wistrand, a nurse from Houston, Texas had just climbed 
the river bank to treat a sick child. Suddenly the giant reptile 
surged out of the water and lashed at Loretta. Screaming, 
fighting off the monster, Loretta managed to leap from the 
canoe, dripping blood from a badly gashed hand and arm. 
Lila came on the run, dressed her wounds and an hour later 
both were back at work patiently teaching the Shapra Indi- 
ans to read and write. 

At about the same time, some 800 miles to the southeast, 
Esther Matteson of Oakland, California, and Annie Shaw of 
Alberta, Canada, fever-ridden themselves, were battling an 
influenza epidemic that threatened to wipe out the Piro 
Indians along the turbulent Urubamba River. A couple of 
hundred miles northeast of them, Mary Ruth Wise of De- 
Witt, Arkansas, and Martha Duff of Lenoir City, Tennessee, 
aboard a balsa raft loaded with Amuesha Indians, were fight- 
ing rapids and treacherous whirlpools on their way to the 
jungle school they had set up on the banks of the Chuchur- 


Two Thousand Tongues to Go 107 

ras River below the Peruvian Andes. And a bird's-eye view 
of the rest of Peru's 230,000 square miles of primeval wilder- 
ness would have revealed scores of other tiny jungle stations 
where other young Americans 42 of them unmarried girls of 
college age were stopping tribal wars, fighting superstition 
and witchcraft, living dangerously among wild Indians. All 
for one purpose: to coax aborigines, whose languages have 
never before been reduced to writing, to learn the mysteries 
of "the paper that talks," the printed word. 

These young Americans, and some 700 others like them, 
belong to one of the most determined and effective groups 
now waging war on world illiteracy: the Summer Institute 
of Linguistics (SIL), otherwise known as the Wycliffe Bible 
Translators. Currently at work among 175 different language 
groups in 12 countries, SIL linguists have a transfiguring 
glory in their vision. Braving almost unbelievable hazards, 
they quietly spend their lives analyzing unwritten Indian 
languages, creating primers and dictionaries, setting up 
schools and training native teachers. 

The man who gives this group their vision is William Cam- 
eron Townsend "Uncle Cam" to his associateswho has 
spent more than 40 years among Latin America's Indian 
tribes. I learned about Townsend one day in late 1957 while 
hitching a ride across the Andes in a Peruvian military-trans- 
port plane. As we swept past a 21,000 foot snow-capped 
peak and began a long glide down toward the jungle, the 
young pilot removed the oxygen tube from his teeth and 
gestured toward the vast wilderness stretching out ahead 
farther than the eye could see. "Many young Norteameri- 
canos are out there," he beamed. "You know Senor Townsend 
and his Institute Lmguistico?" 

108 Adventurers for God 

When I looked blank, Ids face expressed pity. "You should 
go and see/' lie said. "Peruvians are proud of what the 
Institute does for our country/' 

During the next few days, penetrating deep into the jungle 
by tiny missionary plane and tipsy dugout canoe, I did go 
and see. In Indian villages dotted along the twisting jungle 
rivers I watched these amazing young Americans conquering 
by Christian love, savage peoples whom neither time nor 
ancient Incas nor Spanish conquistadors had ever been able 
to conquer. And in their midst, spurring them on, was 
the remarkable man with the eager heart and the quick, 
boyish smile, whose dream had catapulted them into this 
audacious onslaught against ignorance and superstition. 

Cam Townsend early developed his urge for spreading the 
Christian gospel. Back in 1917, when he was 21, he quit 
Occidental College in Los Angeles, packed a trunk with 
Spanish-language Bibles and headed for Guatemala. He soon 
found his Bibles a drug on the market. More than two thirds 
of Guatemala's population were Indians: few knew Spanish, 
fewer still showed any hankering to learn. 

One day an Indian to whom Cam had oflfered a copy of 
the Bible demanded, "Why, if your God is so smart, hasn't 
He learned our language?" Then and there, Townsend quit 
Bible distribution in favor of giving God another tongue. 

For the next 15 years he lived with the primitive Cakchi- 
quel tribe in Guatemala, eating their food (one diet item: 
toasted ants), mastering their difficult tongue, gradually re- 
ducing it to written form. Slowly and laboriously, he devel- 
oped a simplified method for teaching any phonetically 
written language. 

When finally in 1932, racked with tuberculosis, Townsend 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 109 

rode out again to civilization on a mule, he left the Cakchi- 
quel Indians with, five schools, a small hospital, a printing 
plant, scores of small churches and hundreds of literate con- 
verts to Christianity. In Cam Townsend's soul was exulta- 
tion; in his saddlebags was a printed copy, in the hitherto 
unwritten Cakchiquel language, of the entire New Testa- 

Back in the States, while recovering from the TB 3 he was 
visited by an old missionary friend, Leonard Legters, who 
urged him to do for other Latin-American Indians what he 
had done for the Cakchiquels. 

Townsend thought it over, finally said, "Okay, Leonard, 
I'll tackle it. But on one condition: that you'll help me found 
a pioneer training camp where we can train mission candi- 
dates in primitive-language reduction and Bible translating. 
We're going to need a lot of help to do the job I have in 

. "I 3> 


As a starter, the two men waded into statistical tomes on 
illiteracy, and were astounded to find that almost half the 
world's adult population could neither read nor write. Even 
more astounding was the fact that there were in the world 
some 3000 separate and distinct languages, more than 2000 
of them without any translations from the Bible at all. 

"That's our goal," declared Cam. "Two thousand tongues 
to go!" 

In the summer of 1934 7 Townsend and Legters opened 
their school in an abandoned farmhouse in the Arkansas 
Ozarks. For the first session only two students showed up, 
but by its eighth summer the school had outgrown the farm- 
houseand a renovated chicken-coop used for sleeping quar- 

110 Adventurers for God 

ters and moved to the campus of the University of Okla- 

Incorporated as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, this 
unique school now teaches language analysis to some 500 
students annually at the Universities of Oklahoma, North Da- 
kota and Washington, has branches in England, Canada and 
Australia. Graduates to date number more than 4000, are at 
work in 25 countries under mission boards of 35 denomina- 
tions, both Protestant and Catholic. 

Students taking the required SIL courses for two summers 
of 11 weeks each concentrate on no specific tongue. Instead, 
they are drilled intensively in the general principles basic 
to all language analysis. Once a student has learned to recog- 
nize and reproduce phonetically the hundreds of known 
speech sounds, he is taught how to create a workable alpha- 
bet, develop a dictionary, work up a "grammar," construct 
primers and teach illiterates to read. 

But before being whooshed into SIL's wilderness orbit, 
the student linguists are put through the wringer during 
three months of rugged "survival tests" at a jungle training 
camp. Here both men and women must prove themselves 
able to handcraft their own jungle huts without saw, hammer 
or nails (they use wild-cane poles, and leaves); make balsa 
rafts and handle dugout canoes through raging rapids and 
crocodile-infested rivers; cope with wild animals and giant 
reptiles; administer first aid for everything from broken bones 
to epidemics; and find their way on 25-mile hikes through 
unmarked forests, living off the jungle. Those who pass these 
rigorous tests more than 90 per cent are then sent out for 
three months of living with "test tribes." Here they prove 
further their ability to "take it." 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 111 

As soon as he had trained a few in his linguistic method, 
Townsend and his students headed for Mexico. They were 
stopped at the border, bluntly told, "We don't want trans- 
lators. The Indian languages must disappear." Townsend re- 
torted, "They disappear more rapidly if you use the Indians' 
languages to teach them Spanish." 

With help from two noted Mexicans, educator Moises 
Saenz and Dr. Mariano Silva y Aceves, a linguist, he wormed 
his way in, settled among the Aztecs in the state of Morelos, 
started on the long job of making friends and learning the 

Cam Townsend and his wife were living in a rickety car- 
trailer in the shabby village of Tetelcingo when, one day, 
President Lazaro Cardenas came through on a tour of his 
nation's hinterland. Seeing the sandy-haired, soft-spoken 
young American sitting in front of his trailer surrounded 
by Indians, Cardenas halted his car in a cloud of dust and 
strolled over. 

Amazed, Cardenas listened to the American's explanation 
as to what he was doing here, then blurted, "I wish we had 
a hundred like you." Townsend replied, "I'll see that you get 
them, Your Excellency." 

Today, with the full co-operation of the government, there 
are in Mexico 216 SIL translators, working among 51 back- 
ward tribes. "We don't look upon you as foreigners any 
more," a high government official said recently. "You're real 

Typical of Townsend's dedicated workers is Marianna Slo- 
cum of Ardmore, Pa. Marianna and her fiance studied at SIL, 
preparing to go together to the Tzeltals, a tribe numbering 
some 40,000 in the state of Chiapas. When her fiance died 

112 Adventurers for God 

just before the wedding date, Marianna insisted on following 
their gleam alone. 

"My family was horrified/ 7 she says. "But they came 

After mastering the complicated language, Marianna pre- 
pared school texts, started reading and writing classes and 
in 16 years founded seven thriving bilingual schools, trans- 
lated into Tzeltal a raft of books and pamphlets introducing 
the tribesmen to the Mexican national culture. Along the 
way, she managed to banish witchcraft, thievery and drunk- 
enness from large sections of the tribe, replace witch-doctors' 
nostrums with modern medicine and convert 5000 Tzeltals 
from sun worship to Christianity. 

Last December, as Marianna packed up to move on to 
another dialect, a leading Mexican magazine, Tiempo, made 
her the subject of a 16-column cover story that proclaimed 
her "the architect of a transformed situation." She had lifted 
an entire Indian nation "from barbarism to civilization." 

Meanwhile, word of SIL's achievements in Mexico was 
spreading to other Latin-American countries. Joyously, Cam 
Townsend helped spread it. Invited to conferences of Pan- 
American educators, he found ready agreement among them 
that any nation that ignored its large aboriginal population 
was committing a criminal waste of human and national 
resources. To those who gloomily opined that it was impos- 
sible to find enough dedicated linguists among their own 
people, he said, "We're training hundreds of young Ameri- 
cans who ask for nothing but a chance to help you with the 

Peru was first to respond to Cam Townsend's offer of 
trained linguists. In the summer of 1945, at the invitation of 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 113 

President Manuel Prado, he spent months surveying the 
Peruvian jungle, visiting tribal headmen, sounding out their 
willingness. Then he brought in workers for three of the most 
remote tribes. To get to them, the young North Americans 
had to travel for weeks by canoe and raft, beat their way 
through almost impenetrable jungle, detour around tribes 
noted for killing white men on sight. 

This harrowing experience convinced Townsend of one 
thing: "We've got to have a plane." A U.S. Marine mission 
at Lima was about to scrap an old Grumman amphibian. 
The Peruvian government, with a generous assist from a 
Townsend admirer in California, bought it for him, and to fly 
it Townsend recruited Larry Montgomery, a former Ail 
Force combat flier. Today Montgomery is superintendent of 
JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), SIL's air arm. 

JAARS now has a fleet of 19 planes, 21 pilots, plus crews 
of maintenance men and skilled radio technicians. Most of 
the aircraft are equipped with pontoons for river landings. 
Workhorse of the fleet is a Navy-surplus PBY, used for haul- 
ing heavy loads to jungle outposts and for transporting 50- 
gallon drums of emergency gasoline which are cached at 
convenient places along the rivers. The Catalina bears the 
name "Moises Saenz/* in whose memory a group of Mexicans 
donated its purchase money. Pride of the fleet is the Helio 
Courier, a lately developed stallproof, spinproof all-metal 
plane that can take off or land in 75 yards at only 30 m.p.h. 
when fully loaded, cruise at 160 m.p.h, and as high as 23,000 
feet, turn in a small radius at low speeds and, using an 
ingenious winch, can hoist a man out of the jungle while 
flying a tight circle close to the ground. 

Last year Townsends daring pilots flew more than a mil- 

114 Adventurers for God 

lion and a half air miles over the "green hell" of Peru's 
Amazonia without a single injury to any passenger or crew- 
man. I saw for myself the hazards of such flying. One JAARS 
flier told me, "Hang on. We have to do tricks with these 
small planes that were never dreamed of by their manufac- 
turersexcept in nightmares." Pilots must find their way 
over country where all existing maps are inaccurate. Daily 
they put their planes down safely on postage-stamp landing 
strips gashed out of the jungle or make tricky river landings 
on crocodile-infested waters. 

All dangers are not in landings. On one occasion, when 
JAARS Pilot Leo Lance stepped off his pontoon into knee- 
deep water to secure his plane to a tree, a cry from a naked 
Indian on the bank startled him. Following the Indian's 
quivering finger, Leo saw swimming toward him a vicious 
fer de lance. While desperately hanging onto the rope of his 
fast-drifting plane, he had to fight off with a stick the water 
viper whose bite brings death in a matter of minutes. 

Flying alone on most of their missions, pilots not infre- 
quently have to come down for minor repairs, must be able 
to make their own. If dusk overtakes them, they must put 
down for the night in jungle opening or on the river. 

Whimsicalities of jungle weather and rainfall often present 
problems. One night, after securing his plane to a tree, Larry 
Montgomery left an Indian on guard while he walked to the 
nearest Indian village two hours away through dense jungle. 
In the middle of the night, the Indian guard ran in breath- 
lessly to report, "Big bird drowning!" Racing back to the 
river, Larry found it had risen 10 feet; his plane, almost 
submerged, was held by the ropes from rising with it. Loosen- 
ing the ropes, he climbed aboard to spend the rest of the 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 115 

night. In the morning, as the water went down, he had to 
slit holes in the fabric to let the water out, then patch them 
up with random strips of cloth. After drying out the water- 
logged engine, then washing off the heavy weight of silt 
and mud caking the wings, he took off on his rounds, "a little 
lopsided but finally airborne." 

In flight each pilot packs an air mattress, mosquito net, 
machete and survival rations, keeps in constant touch with 
SIL's radio tower at its jungle base, relays weather informa- 
tion from tribal workers, stands ready at a moment's notice 
to go to the aid of a linguist or a fellow-pilot in trouble. 

As Omer Bondurant, 35-year-old veteran of a World War 
II night-fighter squadron, told me, "We do our best, then 
leave the rest to God." 

When Townsend is not gadding about the world scouting 
out hitherto unreached Indian tribes, recruiting college 
youths, selling governments on his literacy program, he is 
"at home" at Yarinacocha, the staging area for SIL's Opera- 
tion Peru. A 400-acre slash in the jungle, this base is a hum- 
ming beehive of activity devoted to one end; the servicing 
and supplying of the young linguists who are currently at 
work among 29 of Peru's 45 different tribal groups, each with 
its own distinct language, customs and jeopardies. 

Catch him at home and Townsend will take you through 
the big base sprawled out along the shores of Lake Yarina. 
Here are the hangars, repair shops and airstrips for his air 
force. Here, too, are the jungle-style residences for 175 work- 
ers and their families; a medical clinic; commissary; cafeteria 
and dormitories for tribal workers constantly passing in and 
out; a printing shop where tribal primers, dictionaries and 

116 Adventurers for God 

other reading materials are manufactured some 18,000 vol- 
umes in 1957. Here, also, are classrooms where Indians 
brought in from their tribes may be given advanced training 
under Ministry of Education supervision, taught Spanish, 
then returned as teachers of their own people in newly es- 
tablished government schools. 

Nerve center of the jungle base is Radio Central, a control 
tower manned day and night to keep contact with linguists 
out among the tribes. "A translator," Townsend told me, "may 
be deposited by plane in a howling wilderness, but unless he 
has a radio transmitter for communication with headquar- 
ters, the chances of his remaining long enough to get his 
job done are slim." Thus, shortly after beginning the jungle 
work, he bought, scrounged or had given him enough war- 
surplus radio sets to bind his whole far-reaching jungle pro- 
gram into a radio network. 

Dramatic incidents proving the network's value occur with 
alarming frequency. There was, for example, the time when 
an SIL team used its transmitter to quash a tribal war in the 
making. While among the Cashinahuas (known as the "Bat 
People"), Eugene Scott and Kenneth Kensinger found their 
tribe seething one day with war preparations. The Cashina- 
huas had just heard a rumor that one of their men, who had 
married into the neighboring Culina tribe, had been the vic- 
tim of a witchcraft slaying by his in-laws. Brandishing spears 
and bows and arrows, they shouted, "Death to all Culinas!" 

"How do you know the rumor is true?" Scott asked the 
Indians. "Come, let's check." 

Mystified, the warriors crowded around the transmitter 
while a call was put through to an SIL team living with the 
Culinas. In a matter of minutes the voice of the "murdered" 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 117 

man, 100 miles distant, was reassuring His kinsmen: he was 
not only alive but was being treated well by "our friends 
the Culinas." The warriors dropped their weapons. Their 
chief asked to speak to his Culina opposite number, invited 
the Culinas to a big feast. Three days later what might have 
been a bloody battle was turned into an intertribal whoopla 
for peace. 

Linguists in the jungles are required to make radio contact 
regularly; if they are "off the air" too long, a plane is dis- 
patched to discover why. A staff of radio technicians circu- 
lates regularly among the stations to see that transmitters 
and receivers are in top condition. 

One girl, working with one of the Jivaro head-shrinking 
tribes, told me of the time when, having gone three hours 
downriver to reach scattered members of her tribe, she be- 
came so absorbed that she "just plain forgot to report in." 
Paddling back upstream, a trip requiring 15 hours, she ar- 
rived at her shack on the river "just in time to welcome a 
plane zooming in from a five-hour flight to rescue me. 
TheyVe never let me forget that!" 

On occasion the radio tower at Yarinacocha knits SII/s 
whole sprawling operation into a network of prayer. The 
operator on duty may alert the entire network as follows: 
"For the next hour Pilot George Insley will be over jungle 
area where he cannot land. . . . Wes and Eva Thiesen re- 
port their Indians threatened with flash floods. . . Uncle 
Cam leaving today to address college groups in States, seek- 
ing new workers, . . . Pilot Don Smith forced down on 
river, engine trouble. All request your prayers. That is all." 

The girl linguists go out into these incredibly dangerous 
places as casually and eagerly as their sisters at home explore 

118 Adventurers for God 

a shopping center. And they seem to make out better than 
the men probably because the Indians are less suspicious of 
them. As Dr. Townsend says, "The Indian chiefs think, 
'They're only women. What harm can they do? Like as not 
they're looking for husbands/ " 

Townsend was at first skittish about sending girls into un- 
predictable tribal situations alone. But he was shamed into 
it when, several years ago, two volunteers demanded, "You 
say that God takes care of His own. Doesn't that include us?" 

He let them go. "And of course God honored their faith," 
he says. "He has taken perfect care of them." 

In all Peru I found no better example of this care or of 
the amazing courage of SIL's girl linguists than Loretta 
Anderson, pioneer among the Shapra tribe. 

Eight years ago the Shapras, vicious killers and head-hunt- 
ers, were among the most feared of Peruvian tribes. Their 
chief, a regal but bloodthirsty savage named Tariri, had 
attained leadership by the simple device of slaying his pred- 
ecessor in cold blood, then daring any wariror to dispute 
his authority. Then one day in 1950 Loretta, with her first 
co-worker, Doris Cox, paddled up to his village in a dugout 
canoe. Climbing the river bank, between rows of glowering 
tribesmen momentarily immobilized by such audacity, the 
two slender white girls faced the chief. Using a few Shapra 
words picked up from a trader downriver, plus sign lan- 
guage, they told him they had come to live among his people 
and study their language. 

One of the Shapra words they inadvertently dropped in 
the one-sided conversation was "brother." Only later they 
learned how fortuitous was its use, that by it they had bound 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 119 

Tariri to protect them since by tribal law Shapra men must 
defend their sisters. 

Tariri stared at the two girls in a long silence. Then he 
crisply ordered that they be assigned a hut, with a couple of 
older Indian women to help them with whatever they were 
after. Years later he confided to Townsend, "If you had sent 
men, we would have killed them on sight. Or if a couple, 
I'd have killed the man and taken the woman for myself. 
But what could a great chief do with two harmless girls 
who insisted on calling him brother?" 

The jungle surrounding their hut had its beauty: clouds 
of lavishly colored butterflies fluttering through shafts of 
brilliant sunshine that pierced the foliage when the rains 
stopped; gaudy toucans, macaws and umbrella birds swoop- 
ing through the trees. It also had its sinister sounds. At 
night, from the dripping forest, came the cries of howler 
monkeys and the jaguar's coughing roar. 

Most discomforting were the hordes of flying and crawling 
things: gnats that swarmed about them by day; the ants and 
cockroaches that came out of every crevice of their hut, the 
big spiders that crawled over their bed nets at night. 

For months Tariri, busy with his wars, left the girls to their 
mysterious devices though they learned from others in the 
tribe that he got regular reports on their doings. Often the 
whole tribe, men and women, would leave the village for 
days at a time, for feasts, hunts, fiestas. Alone in the village, 
the girls often wondered whether they were being aban- 
doned. Today they scoff when you call them courageous. 

"We were scared most of the time during the first five 
months," Doris and Loretta will tell you. "But when we 
trembled the most we prayed the hardest/* 

120 Adventurers for God 

They prayed hard one night when, while they were work- 
ing over their notes by candlelight, an Indian woman burst 
in with alarming news. The men of the tribe, winding up a 
drunken feast, were even now reeling down the path to the 
hut, loudly proclaiming their intention to attack the white 
girls. "You must hide!" 

The girls led to the forest, spent the night there. Next 
morning, returning to their radio transmitter, they called 
Yarinacocha, 400 miles away. 

"Bring Tariri to the radio," said the base director, Harry 

The chief, who understood Spanish, heard a stern voice 
coming from the black bos. It said, "You are the chief and 
you can't control your tribe?" 

His authority challenged, Tariri drew himself up with 
solemn dignity. "I am the chief," he said. "I promise that the 
senoritas will not be harmed." 

And they weren't, then or later. 

Arnid such harassments, Loretta and Doris buckled down 
to the agonizingly slow job of learning the language, des- 
perately trying to distinguish one sound from another in the 
exotic jargon that swirled about them. After several months 
the white girls' persistence, plus their many kindly acts, 
melted the Shapras* suspicions. Flattered by the girls' earnest 
attempts to master their language, the Indians readily gave 
them words for objects pointed at, and the language note- 
books began to fill up with Shapra words and phrases. As 
soon as they had a phonetic alphabet worked out, Doris and 
Loretta began the long task of producing primers, teaching 
Shapra children to read and write. Along with Shapra folk 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 121 

stories and legends, they translated a few verses from the 

Abruptly one day Chief Tariri joined a little group the girls 
were teaching. He stood, frowning, as the lesson went on. 
After hearing the first Scripture verse translated into his 
own language, he broke in to ask that it be repeated again 
and again. Finally he exclaimed, "My heart understands with 
a leap!" 

To Doris and Loretta he said, "When you came, I did 
not understand why. Now I know. What you are doing makes 
my people happier and better able to care for themselves," 

Thereafter the chief appeared regularly at the girls' hut, 
would sit for hours helping them get the exact meanings of 
words, write down tribal stories, translate more Bible verses. 
And as he did so, Tariri began to show signs of subtle change. 
One day in 1953, three years after the girls had come to his 
village, he called his Shapras together for a dramatic an- 

"I like this white girls' God/' he said. "He has brought us 
many good things. I'm going to stop worshiping the boa." 

He became more and more insistent on Bible translation. 
Hovering over them as they struggled to get more verses 
down, he impatiently demanded one day, "How can we re- 
member God's word and live as He wants us to live when 
it isn't written down on paper for us to see?" 

In the following months, Doris and Loretta were convinced 
that Tariri was indeed changed. Not only did he put aside 
snake worship, but, one by one, without being asked to, 
he shrugged off witch-doctor practices, outlawed murder, 
abolished head-shrinking. 

In 1955, when Townsend arranged a celebration of SIL's 

122 Adventurers for God 

tenth anniversary in Peru, he took Tariri with him to Lima. 
With Loretta translating for him, Tariri talked unabashedly 
with Peru's president, newspaper editors, groups of school 
children. Every inch a chief, even in the white man's jungle, 
he held his head high, told Loretta, "Speak up, leave out 
nothing I say." 

Two years later, in June 1957, Townsend arranged for 
Tariri and Loretta to go to Hollywood to appear on Ralph 
Edwards' "This Is Your Life'* TV show. The program fea- 
tured Rachel Saint, an SIL translator who had helped Lo- 
retta briefly with the Shapras but who is now writing the 
language of the Aucas, savage slayers of her brother, Nate 
Saint, and four other young missionaries. Tariri caught the 
fancy of viewers: millions will remember how he stood 
proudly self-possessed, stared boldly into the camera's eye 
and testified with simple dignity to his new-found faith. 

The quality of Tarirfs commitment to Christian precepts 
underwent a fiery test when, returning to his jungle fastness, 
he was attacked by an enemy group. He was shot through 
the chest, and others of his Shapras were slain. Jungle law 
called for bloody reprisal, but Tarirfs faith was strong. He 
issued an order for his revenge-hungry Shapras to simmer 
down, called the girls to him and said, "Read, please, where 
God says, "Return not evil for evil.' " 

Tariri got a test of a different sort later and passed it 
equally well. A well-meaning merchant in Lima, during one 
of the chief's forays into civilization, showed Tariri the won- 
ders of an outboard motor, promised to send him one for his 
dugout canoe. Unfortunately, the merchant left the details of 
filling the order to a clerk who thought "anything is good 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 123 

enough for an Indian." Thus when, a few weeks later, the 
chief unpacked the wooden box, his face fell. Instead of the 
shiny new one he had seen, the motor was a battered model 
that wouldn't work. 

This first brush with civilized duplicity left Tarirf s faith 
intact but his hackles high. With Loretta taking down his 
exact words, he dictated a scorching letter of remonstrance 
to his "benefactor." In it his newly acquired religious faith 
struggled with his inbred impulse to retaliate for such an 
offense against chiefly dignity. 

"Senor," he wrote, "I was happy when you said you would 
send me a motor. I told my children. I told aE the men in 
my village. I thought you were good. I did not ask you to 
help me. It was your own idea. You looked into my eyes. 
I prayed God to help you because you were sending me a 
motor. Then this bad motor came. I'm sad. God's heart is 
sad too. Don't do that again. If you want to help someone, 
really help him. Among ourselves we don't send bad things 
to a chief/' 

While keeping himself in Christian check, Tariri could not 
refrain from recalling what might have happened under 
other circumstances and previous customs. He said: "We 
used to raid and take the women and kill the young men, 
then take their heads. When people sent bad messages to 
us, we said, 'Because they want to die, they do that!' Then 
we'd go and kill them." 

Then he concluded: 'That's the way we used to do, before 
the girls came. Now we have left that. I'm not talking with 
anger. I'm talking softly. It is because you don't know Jesus 
that you do things like that. But I love you even though 
you did that. I pray for you. But what you did to me, don't 

124 Adventurers for God 

do again!" The embarrassed donor sent new parts for the 
motor. And today the chief goes up and down the river 
four times as fast as lie used to. 

By such trials Tarirf s faith has battled its way to triumph 
over inbred tribal bloodthirst and modern loose-dealing. 

Today there are a number of Shapra schools going, with 
primers and other teaching tools in the Shapra language. 
Young tribesmen now in training will shortly become quali- 
fied teachers. Nearly 100 Shapras have followed Tariri in 
accepting Christianity. The Gospel of Mark, in the Shapra 
tongue, is completed and ready for printing. And in tribal 
celebrations along the Morona River, Christian hymns are 
now sung in place of the former sonnets to blood lust and 

Still, the work is far from done. Another five to seven years 
must be spent with the Shapras before the girls can move 
on to another tribe and another long battle with a new 

"It's not easy/' says Loretta Anderson. "But it's a lot of 
fun. And how rewarding!" 

I discovered this same attitude among every SIL linguist 
group I met. Hardest pressed are those who work with tribes 
whose languages are multi-tonal. For example, take the Ti- 
eunas, who live far down the Amazon, and whose tongue has 
five distinct tones. Each word in Ticuna may mean five 
radically different things, according to the tone used. 

Notifying one such tribe that they were leaving briefly 
for a conference with Townsend, two girl linguists announced 
that "The boss has sent for us" only to learn by the tribe's 
horrified reaction that they'd actually said, "The devil has 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 125 

sent for us!" And the superstitious people believed them at 
first. In another such tribe, the words for "sinner" and "fat 
person" are the same: the tone used spells the difference. One 
day, teaching that "God loves the sinner/' the worker saw be- 
wilderment on his Indians' faces. To his dismay he discovered 
he'd been asserting that "God loves the fat person." Since 
few in the tribe were fat, he was "shutting out a lot of them 
from divine favor." He quickly shifted to the right tone. 

But the SIL people have to sandwich their linguistic work 
in between treating countless ills. For, in dispatching a pair 
of workers into the jungle, Townsend likes to have one of 
them a trained nurse, and both must be prepared to cope 
with the health emergencies which arise in dismaying abun- 
dance. Pneumonia is rife and deadly. Common, too, are ele- 
phantiasis, yaws and an ulcerating disease called leishmania- 
sis which, transmitted by a sand fly, destroys nose and throat 
passages and brings death from starvation. 

I found a good example of the linguist-nurse in Jeannie 
Grover, a serene, blue-eyed girl from Pateros, Washington 
Jeannie's tribe is the Aguaranas, a branch of the head-hunt- 
ing Jivaros, largest Indian grouping (10,000) in Peru's Ama- 
zon basin. Among them Jeannie and her partner, Millie 
Larson from Solway, Minnesota, have established 11 bilin- 
gual schools. In one-room, thatch-roofed schoolhouses scat- 
tered over the jungle-covered hills, some 600 little boys and 
girls are taught by Aguaruna men who, a few years ago, could 
not read or write their own language but who are now profi- 
cient in both it and Spanish. In June 1956 the 11 teachers 
from these schools went to the polls to vote in the Peruvian 
elections for the first time in Aguaruna history. 

12Q Adventurers -for God 

Jeannie s and Millie's hut is in a tiny patch of clearing, 
edged on one side by the tumbling Maranon River, on three 
others by dense jungle. When not off fighting their enemies, 
Aguaruna men mill about the clearing, fondling their blow- 
guns and poison-tipped darts, laughing and talking. I com- 
mented that the Aguarunas, with their reputation as mur- 
derous head-shrinkers, looked pretty foraiidable-these bar- 
rel-chested bronze men in short skirts, erect and proud of 
visage, their upper bodies daubed with red paint and deco- 
rated with beetle wings and toucan feathers. Jeannie laughed 
merrily. "They looked so to me ? at first. Now they're the 
most beautiful people on earth!" 

Every day some SO Indians come to her hut for first aid or 
medical treatment. To reach other patients she must tramp 
through the dripping forests, a banana leaf over her head 
for an umbrella, her medical kit in hand, or travel by dugout 
canoe up the turbulent river. 

Does she feel no fear? "Only one that some day, when we 
need it most, we'll run out of medicine!" 

That fear was justified when, not long ago, Jeannie's Agua- 
runas came down with 200 cases of dysentery, exhausting 
her stock of remedies. But a radio message to Yarinacocha 
brought swift answer. The doctor there loaded a plane with 
medicines, flew to Jeannie's aid and, after ten days of furious 
labors up and down the Maranon, had the epidemic stopped 
in its tracks. 

"Before Millie and I came/' Jeannie told me, "the witch 
doctor was in sole charge of the Aguarunas' health. When 
confronting a patient, he first fortifies himself with a long 
drink of potent aijahuasca* Then, alternating drinks with puffs 
on his pipe, he sucks on the surface of the sick area often 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 127 

until the blood comes and spits on the ground. Next he 
does a wild dance around the victim, cursing at the spot 
where he spat. When the ayahuasca takes hold, he falls to 
the ground. Anyone whose face shows up in his drunken 
dream is declared to be the black-magic worker who caused 
the sickness, and the alleged culprit is promptly banished, or 
killed if the patient dies/* 

"Nowadays," says Jeannie, "I'm afraid we are doing him 
out of a job." The witch-doctor still goes through his she- 
nanigans, but with less authority and fewer patients. In 
fact, not long ago when his own daughter fell ill, he brought 
her in his arms to beg for a hypo injection and sulf a salve 
for the sores covering the little body. "White man's sickness," 
he grunted and turned his daughter over to Jeannie. 

Jeannie regards her tribe with affection, their less mur- 
derous peccadillos with amusement. Do she and Millie, I 
asked, ever get lonely in this far pocket of primeval man? 
Her blue eyes twinkled as she said wryly, "A lonely moment 
is what we crave most!" 

The base clinic at Yarinacocha, started in 1949 by Dr. 
Kenneth Altig with a second-hand doctor's kit and a batch 
of donated medicines, now boasts a 12-room building, up-to- 
date laboratory equipment including X-ray, and serves 10,000 
patients annually. Its medical stores are supplied partly by 
the Peruvian public health service, partly by friendly phar- 
maceutical houses in the States. 

In charge of the always-crowded clinic is Dr. Ralph Eich- 
enberger, the busiest and most resourceful medical director 
I have ever met. With only a skeleton nursing staff ("I have 
trouble keeping nurses they all want to go out into the 

128 Adventurers -for God 

tribes!") he manages a round-the-clock program of healing 
that must surely be unique. Besides doctoring patients flown 
in from the jungles, he keeps in touch with the linguist- 
nurses by radio, and stands ready at a moment's notice to take 
off into the wilderness to meet emergencies. 

Dr. Eichenberger likens his work to that of a city's public 
health service. "The only difference/' he says, "is that our 
'city' covers a quarter-million square miles, our Visiting 
nurses' are hundreds of jungle miles apart, our 'consultation 
is by radio, our 'ambulances' are balsa rafts and jungle-hop- 
ping planes/' Covering this circuit, containing 130,000 dis- 
ease-prone tribespeople, takes some doing. 

Since 1954, when many lepers were found living along the 
Ucayali River, Drs* Eichenberger and Altig have conducted 
monthly "leper flights." On these rounds they stop at dozens 
of little villages, or meet in prearranged spots along the river 
those who have been banished from their tribes. The suffer- 
ers paddle out to the pontooned plane in canoes from their 
jungle hideouts, lift their disfigured faces and hands in mute 
appeal During the last four years hundreds of Indians, their 
leprosy arrested, have been returned to their tribes. 

SII/s linguist-nurses must necessarily perform medical 
services far beyond the portfolio of the average graduate 
nurse. But when they have a complicated case, they call Dr. 
Eichenberger. This tireless, devoted man at his radio, his 
calm voice reaching out across huge distances to prescribe 
treatment, provides a picture whose drama is lost only on 

For example, when his radio crackled out the news that a 
young Piro Indian girl had suffered a compound fracture of 
her elbow that resisted the usual setting, he called for an 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 129 

exact description of the break, told the nurse how to rig up 
rocks for weights to pull the shattered bones back into place 
and how to apply tree branches for splints. Ten days later, 
visiting the tribe on his regular rounds, he found that the 
break was healing perfectly. 

Then there was the Indian bitten by the deadly bush- 
master and left by his tribesmen to die. The linguist, lacking 
antivenin, was told: "You have a kerosene refrigerator? Pack 
his foot in ice. I'm on the way." Within a few hours, Dr. 
Eichenberger had the man back at the clinic, an operation 
performed, and his life saved. 

When a worker with the Huambisa tribe franticallv called 


in to report a mother dying in complicated childbirth, Eich- 
enberger crisply ordered: "Take your radio into the woman's 
hut. Leave your receiver turned on. Do exactly what I tell 
you." With his instructions, the birth was successfully accom- 
plished. Both mother and baby lived. Hours later, the worker 
called back: "Hear that racket, Doc? The whole tribe's cele- 
brating. They say you're the greatest witch-doctor that ever 

How do the SIL workers make these Amazonian Indians 
want to learn? Says Townsend, "We trade upon three facets 
in their mentality that are common to almost all primitives: 
their pride in their own language, their eagerness to better 
themselves economically, their insatiable curiosity. 7 ' 

It is Townsend's theory that "jungle Indians are the most 
curious people alive. Only the fear of other tribes, plus gen- 
erations of mistreatment by the only outsiders they've met 
rubber workers, gold seekers, adventurers has prevented 
them from learning about ideas, people, happenings in the 

130 Adventurers for God 

mysterious world beyond their green-walled prison. The mind 
of the Amazonian primitive is an inexhaustible well of curi- 
osity. Just provide a pump, prime it a little then step back 
and watch it flow!" 

Out in the jungle I saw his theory validated again and 
again. In one tribe I watched a linguist with a young begin- 
ner. She pointed to a symbol she had created for the word 
"tree," let the youngster observe it for several minutes. Then 
she flipped to a page with this symbol among dozens of 
others. "Now find the tree," she said. The boy's eager eyes 
searched the page. Then, suddenly, his brown finger stabbed 
at one symbol and his face lighted up as he said, "Teacher, 
Tm reading 

"Once they discover reading is possible/' she told me, 
"there's no stopping them." 

The incentive to learn to write is likewise easy to stir in 
Indians, The idea of communicating with each other by 
"the paper that talks" intrigues them. Too, they quickly 
catch on to writing's value as a prod to memory. One tribe, 
watching their linguist at work, noticed how she would 
stumble and stutter while trying to recall the correct word 
then, after a glance at her notebook, burst forth with it, 
They said, "We wish we had something to help us remem- 
ber too!" Thereafter, when telling her something they wanted 
to be sure she'd remember, they always said, "Write it down, 
Teacher!" confident that if the matter was committed to 
paper, she would not forget. 

The advantage of learning a second language Spanish, in 
the case of Peru also quickly becomes apparent to jungle 
Indians. Especially to those who have dealings with itinerant 
traders and patrones who settle near their borders, establish 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 131 

trading posts, supply them with trinkets in exchange for In- 
dian goods and often exploit their ignorance by bilking 

There was, for example, the Indian who proudly bounced 
into the hut of an SIL linguist, flourishing what looked like a 
1000-peso banknote. "See how much money I got from a 
trader who wanted my lumber!" he beamed. The linguist 
glanced at the bogus bill, sadly shook her head. "It's worth- 
less," she said. "Only used by children for playing store." 
The Indian's face fell, his anger rose. "He could do that to 
me because I'm illiterate," he fumed. "Please teach me!" 

It was this kind of situation, Townsend told me, that im- 
pelled Chief Shironkama of the Machiguengas to seek edu- 
cation for his people. Throughout Peru's Amazonia, Shiron- 
kama is acknowledged as one of the most powerful and, 
until recently, one of the most feared of tribal headmen. 
Today he and many of his formerly savage warriors are 
striking examples of the changes that SIL workers can bring 
about in a few years of concentrated effort. 

To get Shironkama's story firsthand, I took off one day from 
Yarinacocha for the far Urabamba River. Our pontoon- 
equipped Cessna, flown by JAARS Pilot Don Weber, soared 
for hours over thick jungle broken only by occasional twisting 
rivers. Suddenly, far below, we saw one of the villages of 
Shironkama's domain. 

Coming down low over the river, Weber muttered, "It's 
in flood. Look at that clutter!" I glanced down and was all 
for turning back. The river was a raging torrent, filled with 
logs. Weber calmly moved his stick and grinned. "Ever hear 
of coming in on a wing and a prayer?" 

Second later we splashed to a landing and Weber ma- 

132 Adventurers for God 

newered us toward the shore, skillfully dodging the drifting 
debris. As the pontoons nudged the muddy bank, he leaped 
from the cockpit and flung a rope to some excited Indians 
who quickly secured the plane to a tree. 

Atop the bank stood a solitary figure, clothed from neck to 
ankle in a hand-woven cushma, the peculiar sack-like gar- 
ment of the Machiguengas. This was Chief Shironkama, 
former "terror of the Urabamba." He gravely greeted us, was 
joined almost immediately by a handsome young man in a 
jungle helmet Wayne Snell, SIL linguist from Elgin, Illi- 
nois. Standing together on that lonely bank, the two made a 
striking picture. 

A gunner's mate during World War II, Wayne told me his 
call to missionary service had come when he met, on island 
after island in the South Pacific, black men who, instead of 
the raw savages he'd expected, "were better Christians than 
I was. M They had been made so, he learned, by Christian 
missions. The war over, he took the SIL course, and volun- 
teered for duty in Peru. 

Since 1952, Wayne and his wife Betty have established a 
number of bilingual schools among the hitherto unreached 
Machiguengas; created textbooks on reading and writing, 
arithmetic, farming, health and hygiene; persuaded the 
prone-to-wander Indians to settle around the schools (initiat- 
ing an agricultural program aimed at making it profitable to 
do so); and translated several portions of the Bible. To top it 
all, they have made a practicing Christian out of Shironkama. 

Since his conversion three years ago, the chiefs rigid rule 
for his large tribe has been: "No more killings; no more 
drunken feasts; no more raids on other tribes for women." 

William C. Townsend (left), 
founder of the Summer Insti- 
tute of Linguistics (Wycliffe 
Bible Translators), with Chief 
Tariri of the Shapras whose con- 
version to Christianity trans- 
formed an entire tribe of vicious 
Peruvian jungle head-hunters. 
(Chapter VI) 

Yarinacocha, SIL's jungle base in Peru, seen from the air. Overhead 
are two of Townsend's "air force" of jungle-hopping planes which 
serve the far-flung tribes where linguists are at work. 

SIL workers with jungle tribes must learn to handcraft their own jungle 
huts without benefit of hammer, saw or nails. 

SIL linguist* building a balsa raft for travel and transport of supplies to 

their remote jungle stations. 

"Radio Central" at SIL's jungle base in Peru knits the widely scattered 
jungle workers into an efficient network of prayer and communication. 

A young linguist-nurse with the Aguanmas, a branch of the head- 
hunting Jivaros, receiving medical advice via radio from the jungle base, 
hundreds of miles awav. 

An SIL worker patiently waits her turn to prove that 
modern medicine, and not the witch-doctor's mumbo- 
jumbo, is the answer to severe sickness. 

One of SIL's ig-plane air fleet making an emergency call at a jungle 
station deep in the ''green hell" of Peru's Amazonia. 

Once known as the "terror of the Urubamba," Chief Shironkama (shown 
here with SIL linguist Wayne Snell ) is leading his Machiguengas toward 
Christian civilization. 

To the little jungle schools come both Indian children and their parents, 

eager to learn to read the "paper that talks." 

SIL linguist-nurses must be prepared to cope with a dismaying variety of 

physical ills and emergencies. 

A young Indian, only a few years away from jungle savagery, who has been 
trained to be a teacher of his own people, at work in his outdoor school. 

The author demon- 
strates the "flat 
heads" produced in 
one Peruvian tribe by 
binding with boards, 
fore and aft, the 
heads of all babies. 

For years, often as many as 15, a linguist must live with her adopted 
tribe, patiently learning the language and reducing it to written form. 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 141 

Shironkama settled Ms own woman question by dismissing 
(with pensions) Ms plurality of wives > then asked Snell for 
legal marriage with die one lie chose to keep. 

The Snells' first contact with the cMef was dramatic. They 
had scarcely settled in their native hut when their village, 
a day's canoe trip from Shironkama's, was raided. The cMef, 
whose supply of wives was running low, had staged the raid 
to replenish Ms stock. When he and Ms warriors surged up 
to the Snells' hut, Shironkama stared in disbelief at the wMte 
couple, held Ms warriors back while listening to their reason 
for being there, then abruptly turned on Ms heel and left, 
cryptically grunting, "I'll be back." 

One day shortly thereafter Shironkama reappeared, this 
time trailed by a group of children he had rounded up from 
several MacMguenga villages. To Snell he said, "You make 
school, yes?" 

Only later did the Snells learn why Shironkama wanted 
education for his people. For years his MacMguengas had 
been victims of a wMte patron who cheated them blind in 
trades, worked them for such pittance pay as one fishhook for 
a whole barrel of rice, indentured them with debt. When the 
MacMguengas, weary of such treatment, began staying away, 
the patron called in Shironkama, told him he would have to 
force Ms people to work out their debts, gave the cMef a 
gun, saying, "If they won't work, shoot them!'* The cMef took 
the gun, shot two of the patrons henchmen instead. "The 
patron will not make you his slaves again/" he told Ms people. 
"You are free." 

CMef Shironkama told me, with Snell interpreting: "From 
such wMte men as the patron I learned that men who had 
power read books. I reasoned that, if one is to avoid being 

142 Adventurers for God 

cheated or enslaved, he too must have the knowledge that 
books give. I wanted that knowledge for myself and my peo- 

The next morning before dawn I was bonged awake by 
someone beating on a hollow log. It was the bell announcing 
school's start an hour later. The Indians were already assem- 
bled outside the one-room schoolhouse; they'd been up, I 
found, since 3: SO. 

Chief Shironkama was herding the students, ranging from 
very small to near-manhood, into the building whose thatched 
roof was still dripping from the night's torrential rains. When 
they were all in, the rough benches behind rude desks filled, 
Shironkama himself sat on the floor, leaning against the 
bamboo-pole wall. 

School began with a Bible reading. The lesson dealt with 
John the Baptist's manful defiance of Herod. As it was ex- 
plained in fluent Machiguenga, I watched the chiefs face. It 
was alight with understanding. With every point Snell made, 
Shironkama nodded thoughtfully, and from his throat came 
the murmuring assent, "Mmm-mmm-mmra." 

Instruction was then taken over by a young Indian named 
Mario, whom the Snells had carefully developed into teacher 
and village Christian leader. While Mario's voice droned on, 
the chiefs sharp eyes searched the faces of the students to 
see if they were listening. They were intently. 

These students, Mario told me later, wanted to have classes 
all day. They scorned recesses, barely taking time out to eat. 
At dismissal of school they gathered in small groups to com- 
pete in display of their new knowledge. I noticed one young- 
ster, about 14, saunter off to the river bank, a primer under 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 143 

his arm. He seated himself on a log and loudly began to 
read. His pose was one of elaborate indifference to the kids 
who came to catch the performance. But, behind the lifted 
book, I saw his eyes dart up from the page now and then to 
note his erudition's effect on his awestruck audience. 

The scene was, in a way, comical; in another, strangely 
pathetic. I turned away, feeling not a laugh but a catch in 
the throat. 

This same pride in learning I found all up and down the 
Urubainba. Especially among the Piros, one of the first tribes 
SIL tackled. When Townsend wants to give grounds for his 
great expectations among others, he says, "Take a look at the 

Heroine of the Piro advance is Esther Matteson of Oak- 
land, California. A quiet-spoken young woman with the 
radiant face of a saint and the firm jaw of an American pio- 
neer woman, she came down with the Townsends shortly 
after President Prado opened the door, helped survey the 
tribes, tramping endless miles through matted jungle, help- 
ing pole dugout canoes and balsa rafts on exploratory trips 
through dangerous river rapids. 

Esther and a companion went to live with the Piros in 
1947; she has been with them ever since. She faced all the 
usual obstacles adjusting to primitive living conditions, the 
Indians' early distrust and hostility, the towering task of 
learning from scratch a language about which there was 
no data whatever. Her accomplishments to date: 

There are 13 Piro-Spanish schools scattered along the 
Ucayali, Urubamba, Manu and Acre Rivers, one of them 
an adult school for tribal teachers. In Esther's schools are 
450 children and adults fiercely tackling such subjects as 

144 Adventurers for God 

reading, writing, arithmetic, Peruvian history, mechanics and 
sewing, the rudiments of Spanish. As a result of their educa- 
tion, many Piros now vote regularly in national elections, 
govern themselves by democratic rules, have title to their 
own lands, cut and sell timber, grow crops for sale where 
hitherto they grew them only for their own use, are fast 
forming an independent society that is a happy blend of 
the best in their own culture and that of the white man. 

One in every three Piros is a Christian. Esther has trans- 
lated into Piro the entire New Testament, many educational 
works besides texts, a book of 91 hymns, plus a long list of 
linguistic and ethnological studies of her tribe for scientific 

At a tidy little village called Buf eo Pozo I met 40-year-old 
Moran Zumaeta, one of Esther Matteson's prize Piro teach- 
ers. Moran's hunger for education, he told me, antedated 
Esther's coming. For years he hammered at every door where 
he thought "there might be somebody to feed my famished 
mind/' Everywhere he was rebuffed, everywhere told, "Indi- 
ans can't learn." Finally he stumbled upon Esther, struggling 
to set up a small school on the Urubamba. She told him, 
"You not only can learn; you must' 9 

In an incredibly short time, with her encouragement he 
learned to read and write his own language, has become pro- 
Iciest in Spanish and four other tribal tongues. 

Moran taught for four years, without pay, at a village 
named Huau where Esther had begun a school. There he 
was further trained by government educators, sent to Bufeo 
Pozo to take charge of the government school there, then 
to other villages. In his home village, hundreds of miles 
away, he started a school with his own two sons in a small 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 145 

lean-to; suspicious of Ms motives, no others would come at 
first. At the end of nine months he had 34 students, made 31 
converts to Christianity. 

Everywhere Moran went he inflamed his people with his 
own boundless yen to learn, multiplied himself by training 
others to teach. Today he supervises four schools and eight 
teachers, often travels the dangerous rivers all night to reach 
his next school by class time. 

I sat in the back of Moran's school at Bufeo Pozo, listened 
to him teach. The room was crowded to capacity, Esther's 
primers before them. At one desk sat a Piro father and son 
bent over the same book, at another a mother and daughter 
eagerly studying together. 

Esther's Piro-land is filled with striking stories of Chris- 
tian transformation. Take Hishonki, for example. After two 
years on the Urubamba, Esther began translation of Bible 
verses. To help her, she engaged Hishonki, an eager young 
student whose only other passion was for fishing. One day 
while they were laboring over the correct Piro rendering for 
Christ's word, "Follow me, and 1 will make you fishers of 
men/' he stopped suddenly to ask, "Teacher, does that apply 
to me?" Esther replied, "I think it applies especially to you, 
Hishonkir He was her first convert, became an evangelist 
among his own people, within a year had won 200 other Piros 
to the Christian faith. 

Another eminent convert is Chomawari, the Piro chieftain. 
Chomawari told me he not only ""believes with the head" 
but governs his people by the Bible. The result: morality 
among the tribe, formerly one of the most licentious in all 
Peru, is 80 per cent better than it was ten years ago, accord- 
ing to government Indian service officials. 

146 Adventurers for God 

Not long ago, when a rash of misdeeds broke out among 
Ms tribe, Chomawari summoned the evil-doers to his house, 
called in Esther Matteson. "Read what God says about play- 
ing with another man's wife," he thundered. Then "Read 
what God says about witchcraft." Then "Read what God 
says about drunkenness/' With the culprits properly humbled 
by Holy Writ, Chomawari softened, "I will not punish you/' 
he said, "if God the Great Chief does not. But sin no more!" 
Later, all the offenders became Christians. 

Of all a linguist's tasks, says Cam Townsend, Bible trans- 
lation is the trickiest. It must be preceded not only by pro- 
ficiency with the language, but an intimate knowledge of a 
tribe's customs and taboos as well. "Figures of speech that 
may be meaningful to one brought up in the Anglo-Ameri- 
can tradition are often mystifying booby-traps to a primitive 
man's understanding." 

Some Biblical similes., literally translated, can convey le- 
thal suggestion. For example, one linguist living with tribes- 
men who had a penchant for burning their enemies be- 
thought himself in time to avoid recommending that they 
"heap coals of fire on his head/' He translated it instead, 
"Make him ashamed by your friendliness/' 

The speech of jungle Indians, for all its complexity of 
syntax, is forthright and to the point. One tribesman, listen- 
ing to the parable of the fruitless sower who scattered seed 
on stony ground and among thorns, scoffed indignantly at 
such stupidity. "Served him right/' he said. "Didn't he 
know enough to dig a hole for the seed like we Indians 

Tribal "informants" who help out the linguists are sticklers 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 147 

for a common-sense rendering. A linguist trying out a literal 
translation of the Sermon on the Mount got only as far as 
"And he opened his mouth and taught them saying" when 
his informant demanded, "How could he talk with his mouth 
open? To talk, you have to open and close the mouth!" The 
linguist promptly revised it: "And he began to talk . . ." 

Suggestions from the Indians themselves often help to 
make the wording clearer than in the English Bible. When 
a tribe was getting nothing from Christ's warning, "If any 
man offend one of these my little ones . . . " the translator 
took an Indian's tip and put the onus on "any man who shows 
one of these my little ones the wrong path," In another tribal 
language the same passage is rendered, "If anyone spoils the 
heart of one of these my little ones." 

To the Huanuco Quechuas the phrase "Do not tempt God" 
meant "Do not entice God to sin"; the translator rendered it, 
"Don't push God to do what you want" And when the 
Cashibos puzzled over the phrase, "God is no respecter of 
persons," their linguist rendered it, "God doesn't just look 
at the face." 

Townsend insists that the great doctrines "must be ex- 
plained in living, understandable words." Abstract terms are 
always tough. In some tribes "God's love" is too weak; one 
tribe describes divine compassion thus: "God hurts in His 
heart for us." To the Piros such words as "faith" and Relieve" 
are incomplete by themselves; they insist that "believing in 
God" must also connote action; so they make it "to obey-be- 
lieve." For the Shipibos "doubt" is described as "thinking 
two things"; "pride" means "I outrank others." The same 
tribe makes a covetous person "one who has gone crazy for 
things." The Piros equate "peace" with "the well-arranged 

148 Adventurers for God 

soul/* For another tribe the phrase "Our hope is in God" 
is translated, "We hang onto God/' 

To Townsend such translations are "an improvement not 
only for jungle Indians but possibly for modern Americans 
as well/* 

After developing a passage as best he can, the linguist tries 
it out on his tribe, submits it to long discussion, revises it 
over and over again until the Indians' reaction indicates 
crystal-clear understanding. 

"A single book of the Bible may take years to translate 
satisfactorily/' says Townsend. 

Final polishing of Bible translations and school texts is 
done by SIL linguists at Yarinacocha. Away from the dis- 
tracting demands of their tribes, in small shacks Townsend 
built at the base for that purpose, they can huddle for hours 
with their Indian informants and patiently put together the 
information from stacks of notes and tape recordings made in 
the field. 

Most Indian informants are also teacher candidates. Thus, 
bringing them to the base serves a double purpose. Between 
helping with the translating, they attend classes fitting them 
to take over the schools started by the linguists. 

The government school for teacher-training has become 
one of the most important activities at Yarinacocha. It got 
its start some years ago when Townsend took Peruvian edu- 
cators on a tour of his jungle schools that were being taught 
by Indians groomed for the job by the linguists. The educa- 
tors were amazed. "You've laid the groundwork for a whole 
educational program," they said. 

The result: in 1953 the Ministry of Education set up its 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 149 

Curso de Capacitadon Pedagogica at Yarinacocha. Since 

then, during the first three months of each year, promising 
tribesmen have been brought in for intensive courses in 
Spanish, advanced academic subjects, teaching methods. Ac- 
credited, they return to their tribes as government-paid 
teachers and hoist over their jungle schoolhouses the official 
crest of the Ministry of Education. 

In 1958, 75 teacher candidates took the course. Bringing 
their families with them, many traveled for days by canoe 
and raft to reach the base, while others came on the Insti- 
tute's planes. They represented 16 different tribes-"a sort of 
jungle version of the United Nations," Townsend calls them. 
While I was at Yarinacocha, someone pointed out a chummy 
pair of teacher candidates comparing notes and laughing 
together. "They belong to tribes that have been mortal 
enemies for generations/' said my informant. "Had they 
met in the jungle a few years ago, they'd have killed each 
other on sight'* 

Dr. Morote Best, a brilliant educator, said to me, "Until 
only a short while ago, nobody could convince me that jungle 
Indians could learn. Then one day I came upon a pair of 
these young girl linguists. I could scarcely believe my eyes 
when I saw their crowded little school, found boys studying 
books by firelight, older people struggling to learn to read 
and write. I said to myself, 'There is hope for our Indians.' " 

Returning to Lima, he gave a glowing account of what 
he'd seen. "These young North Americans," he said, "are 
showing us how to cut through the wilderness of ignorance, 
helping to bring our aborigines into the life of our country. 
They deserve help." 

150 Adventurers for God 

In January 1957 Dr. Morote was appointed by the Min- 
istry of Education as supervisor of the jungle schools, now 
has his own thatched house at SIL's jungle base, spends 
much of his time on inspection swings through the jungles. 
He shares Cam Townsend's conviction that "the newly edu- 
cated Indian cannot subsist on his former economy of fishing 
and hunting. Until recently a semi-nomad, moving from place 
to place in search of new hunting and fishing grounds, he has 
been shown the advantages of settling in permanent villages, 
where his children can go to school and lie can make a better 
life for himself/* 

To help jungle Indians realize that better life, the Peruvian 
government has launched a brand-new program to teach 
modern agricultural methods to the tribes. On land adjoining 
the SIL base, 250 acres have been set aside where Indian 
teacher trainees can study agriculture under trained SIL 
agronomists. To date, 21 teachers have taken the agriculture 
course, and now are showing their fellow tribesmen how to 
market their products. 

Townsend's aim of "not taking the Indian out of the jungle 
but taking the jungle out of the Indian" sounds good to 
all save those with romantic notions about primitive peoples' 
bliss in their native state. One day, after a large audience had 
been told about his work, a hearer arose to bait him with 
the familiar canard: "You missionaries make me sick! Why 
force civilization on a people so unspoiled and happy? Why 
not leave *em alone!" 

Townsend replied, laughing, "I think, my friend, youVe 
been no closer to jungle Indians than the movies, If you could 
sit down with them, as I have, and hear them teU in their 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 151 

own tongues the woes that haunt them through witchcraft, 
superstition, fear and strife; listen to mothers tell of being 
forced to strangle their newborn babies because of some evil 
omen; see old folks being abandoned to die because they 
had become a burden; or sense the hatreds bred in them by 
generations of white men who took advantage of their ig- 
norance to exploit them, steal their lands, ravage their women 
and ruthlessly shoot them down well, then, my friend, you 
just might change your mind about Indians as a quaint peo- 
ple living lives of idyllic happiness." 

Townsend's position is, "Sooner or later, whether we like 
it or not, civilization is going to come to these tribes. Our 
concern is that it be Christian civilization/* 

Not so concerned are those who make their living from 
oppressing the Indians. Some of the patrones, for example. 
These look sourly upon anybody who would educate the 
Indians, encourage them to own their own property, work 
their own lands, vote for their rights. Not infrequently one 
of them will complain to the government, lift false bogeymen 
against SIL. Generally, however, they get short shrift from 
officials who know better. 

When, a few years ago, a wealthy patron charged Town- 
send's people with being "foreigners who cunningly work 
close to our country's borders, smuggle in goods from the 
States to undersell us," his plaint was promptly filed in the 

Governments normally indiif erent or even hostile to Chris- 
tian mission endeavor of the usual kind welcome SIL with 
open arms. And that despite the fact that Townsend makes 
no bones about SIL's ultimate goal to put the Bible in every 
tribe, in its own tongue. 

]_52 Adventurers for God 

To detractors of such a goal, Townsend replies forth- 
rightly, "Of course that's what we are aiming at. But don't 

forget that on the way to that goal, our workers pacify 
savage tribes, awaken ambition in Indians, prepare them 
for integration into the life of your country to which, in 
time, they will make a big contribution." 

Townsend is equally deft in parrying thrusts from another 
quarter the religious. Such attacks are rare, since SIL's 
members represent no religious body, cooperate with all. 
There was, however, the time in 1953 when a Lima news- 
paper carried a series of articles by a prominent Roman 
Catholic blasting SIL workers as "Protestant wolves," their 
work "sectarian and proselyting in nature/* and demanding 
their expulsion. Townsend ignored the first blast. When 
others followed, he composed a letter to the editor which 
one Catholic authority applauded as "a masterpiece of Chris- 
tian love and reconciliation." 

Townsend wrote in part: "It is not a question of * wolves/ 
Ever} 7 SIL member must promise that his service will be 
given in a spirit of love and brotherhood, without distinction 
as to race or creed. We do not call ourselves Protestants but 
simply believers in Christ, and because of our nonsectarian 
nature we do not teach rituals and ecclesiastical systems. 

"While we are motivated by the desire to serve God and 
humanity, we are at the same time scientists dedicated to 
the study of languages. And when we complete our lin- 
guistic investigations we shall go, leaving behind our base 
at Yarinacocha, with all its buildings, for a center of Indian 

The letter was prominently displayed in the newspaper. 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 153 

The attacks ceased, and Townsend and Ms workers went on 
with their comradely friendship with Roman Catholic mis- 
sionaries stationed in the jungles; gladly transporting them 
back and forth to their posts, repairing their radios, sharing 
medical supplies, bringing them to Yarinacocha for outings. 
The priests and nuns have responded in kind, performing 
innumerable acts of neighborly helpfulness to SIL workers. 
Both groups agree that "the jungle, 57 in Townsend's words, 
"is too big and too needy for anybody there to quarrel with 
anybody else." 

This year the Papal Nuncio in Lima, cordially receiving 
Townsend, asked God's blessing upon his work "after listen- 
ing most graciously to how we hope to attain our goal of 
putting Holy Writ into 2000 more languages in this genera- 

.. 33 


I asked Townsend his chances of attaining that goal Since 
SIL is thus far at work among "only ' 175 of the 2000 lan- 
guage groups, would he have to revise his estimate of the 
time it will take? Townsend's reply is the measure of his 

"Not a bit," he said. "Consider the tempo of our advance. 
In 1942 we were at work in only one country; today we're 
in 12. Since 1942 our increase of workers has been 1600 per- 
cent. At that rate our membership will number more than 
12,000 in 15 years. That should do it!" 

I began to understand why the late Josephus Daniels, then 
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, had called Townsend "a man 
with the most audacious faith I ever knew/* 

Surely no project is built more completely on faith. From 
the time that he and Leonard Legters, SIL's co-founder, de- 

154 Adventurers for God 

cided to emulate Abram in trusting God even to "going out, 
not knowing whither," Townsend's guiding principle has 
been, "Go nowhere God doesn't lead; go anywhere He does." 

But, I asked, how can one determine what is God's lead- 
ing and what may be merely the nudge of one's own desire? 
To Townsend it is profoundly simple: "We simply take our 
inner urges to God in prayer, saying, If this is Thy will, not 
ours alone, open the way/ Then if support comes, we know 
that the door has not been jimmied by our will but has been 
opened by God's hand." 

If such dependence upon the divine sounds silly, improvi- 
dentwell, that's the way God set it up. Just another indica- 
tion that He knows how man's heart can play tricks some- 
times, crossing the wires, and needs to be told, "Lean not 
to thine own understanding." And just another evidence that 
"The foolishness of God is wiser than man." 

Townsend does not campaign for funds in the usual ways, 
even with an annual budget which exceeds a million dollars. 
He says, *I have never asked a man directly for a dollar 
and I never shall." To him, the wheedling of gifts from re- 
luctant givers is not only a denial of trust in God; it's an 
offense to the dignity of God's work, and does little for the 
giver. "We like our givers to be God-inspired partners, not 
badgered Lady Bountifuls." 

His practice of waiting for God's go-ahead, with funds 
providentially provided, permeates the whole SIL organiza- 
tion. No member is salaried. There is no guaranteed allow- 
ance. Each is expected to "look to the Lord" to stir the hearts 
of interested people to support his work without the worker 
himself lifting a syllable in direct request. "Give full informa- 
tion without solicitation," Townsend tells SIL members. To 

Two Thousand Tongues to Go 155 

this he adds the rider, "Even the information should be given 

in such a way that the hearers will realize that our full 
expectation is in God and not man." 

Getting enthusiastic cooperation for his SIL program is 
another mark of the Townsend genius. "We do not go into 
any country nowadays/* he says, "without being invited." 
True; but he shows a remarkable talent for getting invited. 
He spends much time frequenting conferences where educa- 
tors and officials discuss their indigenes and what to do about 
them. Mingling with the experts, he quietly tells what SIL 
has accomplished elsewhere. As in Mexico, Peru and Ecua- 
dor, he has not had to wangle permission to enter; they invite 
him in fast, with full government cooperation. 

In tribute to his work with their people, Latin-American 
nations have showered Townsend with kudos. Colleges and 
universities seek him as lecturer, have tried to load him with 
honorary degrees most of which he has respectfully de- 
clined. The president of Peru has decorated him with the 
Order of Merit for Distinguished Service, rarely accorded to 
non-Peruvians. The government of Ecuador has conferred 
upon him the Decoration of Merit, acclaiming him "spiritual 
conqueror of the jungle." 

But the tribute that has moved him most came from an 
Indian chief in the Amazonian jungle, whose tribe he and 
his SIL had transformed with hope. Said the chief, "Before 
you came, there was only darkness. Now there is only light." 

Dr. Frank Beck of La Pax 


One afternoon a few years ago an American of some self- 
importance strode into the crowded Clinica Americana, a 
Methodist mission hospital in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. 
Brushing past a line of patiently waiting Indians, the visitor 
exclaimed: "Who's in charge here? I am " and he men- 
tioned a name well known in the entertainment world. 

A tall, spare man arose slowly from bandaging an Indian 
child's leg. "And I," he said, "am Dr. Beck. Take your place 
at the end of the line, please." 

This story, repeated with relish in La Paz, sharply limns 
the character of the missionary doctor known throughout 
Latin-America as "the father of modern medicine in Bolivia/' 

Back in 1912, when Frank Beck first came to Bolivia, the 
country's 750,000 Aymara Indians were among the most 
neglected and depressed peoples on earth. Though they 
comprised one third of Bolivia's population they had no 
schools, no political rights, no health provisions. They were 
virtual slaves, bought and sold as part of farms or industries 
where they worked. Today, largely because of Dr. Beck's 
labors, the Aymaras have made an impressive start toward a 
place in the sun. 


Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 157 

I had not been in La Paz an hour before I understood why 
this remarkable American has been named "the outstanding 
foreigner in Bolivia/ 7 

"You know Dr. Beck?" I asked a traffic policeman. "Si, si, 
senor" he beamed "Does not everyone?" 

In broken English he told how Beck had delivered his 
baby, worked until almost dawn to save his wife's life, then 
spent hours driving him about to spread the tidings among 
his numerous kin. "Ah, senor" said the cop, "there's a man 
who leaves his mark on you!" 

For more than four decades Frank Beck has been leaving 
his mark on Bolivians, first as teacher, then as doctor. Many 
of the country's leaders have either studied under him or re- 
ceived his medical ministrations, often both. 

President Heman Siles Zuazo, a former student of Beck 
in the American Institute, told me, "He awakened us to our 
responsibility to human beings as human beings. Can you 
understand what that means to the future of Bolivia?" 

Among missionaries he is a shining example of that vast 
company of the dedicated who cannot rest until they have 
left behind all of life's comforts and gone to earth's end to 
serve their fellow man. 

Frank Beck's sharp gray eyes first scanned far horizons 
while he was a student at Dakota Wesleyan University. A 
roommate named John Washbum went to teach at the Am- 
erican Institute in La Paz (founded in 1907 by Methodist 
missions) and wrote back: "If you're looking for a place to 
invest your life, Frank, this is it!" 

Excitedly Beck talked it over with a pert junior named Bes- 
sie Dunn, daughter of a Methodist preacher from Iowa. In 
1912, freshly possessed of his college diploma, he accepted a 

Dr. Frank Beck of La Paz 


One afternoon a few years ago an American of some self- 
importance strode into the crowded Clinica Americana, a 
Methodist mission hospital in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. 
Brushing past a line of patiently waiting Indians, the visitor 
exclaimed: "Who's in charge here? I am " and he men- 
tioned a name well known in the entertainment world. 

A tall, spare man arose slowly from bandaging an Indian 
child's leg. "And I," he said, "am Dr. Beck. Take your place 
at the end of the line, please." 

This story, repeated with relish in La Paz, sharply limns 
the character of the missionary doctor known throughout 
Latin- America as "the father of modem medicine in Bolivia/' 

Back in 1912, when Frank Beck first came to Bolivia, the 
country's 750,000 Aymara Indians were among the most 
neglected and depressed peoples on earth. Though they 
comprised one third of Bolivia's population they had no 
schools, no political rights, no health provisions. They were 
virtual slaves, bought and sold as part of farms or industries 
where they worked. Today, largely because of Dr. Beck's 
labors, the Aymaras have made an impressive start toward a 
place in the sun. 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 157 

I had not been in La Paz an tour before I understood why 
this remarkable American has been named "the outstanding 
foreigner in Bolivia." 

"You know Dr. Beck?" I asked a traffic policeman. "Si, si, 
senor" he beamed. "Does not everyone?" 

In broken English he told how Beck had delivered his 
baby, worked until almost dawn to save his wife's life, then 
spent hours driving him about to spread the tidings among 
his numerous kin. "Ah, senor" said the cop, "there's a man 
who leaves his mark on you!" 

For more than four decades Frank Beck has been leaving 
his mark on Bolivians, first as teacher, then as doctor. Many 
of the country's leaders have either studied under him or re- 
ceived his medical ministrations, often both. 

President Heman Siles Zuazo, a former student of Beck 
in the American Institute, told me, "He awakened us to our 
responsibility to human beings as human beings. Can you 
understand what that means to the future of Bolivia?" 

Among missionaries he is a shining example of that vast 
company of the dedicated who cannot rest until they have 
left behind all of life's comforts and gone to earth's end to 
serve their fellow man. 

Frank Beck's sharp gray eyes first scanned far horizons 
while he was a student at Dakota Wesleyan University, A 
roommate named John Washbum went to teach at the Am- 
erican Institute in La Paz (founded in 1907 by Methodist 
missions) and wrote back: "If you're looking for a place to 
invest your life, Frank, this is it!" 

Excitedly Beck talked it over with a pert junior named Bes- 
sie Dunn, daughter of a Methodist preacher from Iowa. In 
1912, freshly possessed of his college diploma, he accepted a 

158 Adventurers for God 

teaching post at the American Institute in Cochabamba, just 
established as one of a growing string of Methodist schools 
in South America. A year later Bessie arrived at the port 
of Mollendo, Peru, "Guess we'll have to be married here/' 
Frank told her. "Spanish custom doesn't permit a single 
woman to travel unchaperoned!" They were married by 
the mayor of Mollendo. During the ceremony Bessie be- 
came so entranced by the flowery Spanish flourishes that 
Frank had to nudge her and whisper, "It's time to say si, 
Bessie." They made the 10-day trip into Bolivia's interior 
by train, boat, dugout canoe and mule-cart across the Andes. 

In 1914 the Becks were sent to Buenos Aires to help start 
Cohgio Ward, now one of the most famous schools in Latin 
America. They lived in a tent on the campus so that the 
apartment provided for them could be rented to raise funds 
for needy students. In 1917 they went back to Bolivia, and 
in 1920 Beck was appointed director of the thriving American 
Institute in La Paz. 

It was three years later that Frank Beck came to a decision 
that had long been building in him: he would switch his 
field of service from education to medicine. He had been in- 
creasingly haunted by the dark image of a potentially great 
people, the Aymaras, shuffling through life with physical 
maladies, dying before their time, with the social and poli- 
tical cards hopelessly stacked against them. 

In miserable hovels on the city fringes and out upon the 
high plateau above La Paz, thousands of Indian families had 
never known a doctor. Infant mortality was as high as 80 
per cent. In La Paz there was only the poorly equipped 
municipal hospital. 

When his mission board back in the United States en- 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 159 

couraged him to change his career, Beck announced that 
he would take a furlough and put himself through medical 
school. Returning to Chicago with Mrs. Beck and their two 
children, he enrolled at Northwestern University's medical 
school at the age of 35. Five years later, by tutoring on the 
side, he had completed his medical work and was interning 
at the Indianapolis Methodist Hospital 

In October 1928 he and his family headed back to Bolivia 


and, after he served as a traveling doctor for a year, he set 
up shop in a tumble-down shed near the American Institute. 
His equipment: three rickety beds, an old pressure cooker 
for a sterilizer and a $35 set of instruments, discards from 
World War I. 

One of his first patients was an Aymara woman in a condi- 
tion of eclampsia labor an attack of convulsions usually 
fatal in that area. While curious Indian faces stared through 
the window, he managed to save both mother and baby. This 
was the first of some 4000 successful maternity cases which 
in 25 years completely changed the attitude of Bolivian 
doctors and public on the importance of obstetrical care. 
In those days few women called in doctors at childbirth. 

As word of his skill got around, the little clinic became 
crowded. It was not uncommon to see a bejeweled ambas- 
sador's wife next to a colorfully garbed Indian woman. To 
reach Indians who would not or could not come to the clinic, 
he made trips on a sputtery motorcycle out on the Altiplano, 
sloshing through mud and wading hip-deep rivers to get 
to his unwilling patients. 

He found conditions beyond his worst dreams: obstetrical 
cases botched by widwives or witch-doctors, every variety 
of cancer, hernia, ulcer, kidney and liver trouble. Whole 

160 Adventurers for God 

families lived in unventiiated, damp, one-room huts where 
even tie mildest infirmities often became fatal. Because of 
the high altitude, whooping cough was especially deadly 
among children. 

At first the Indians, distrustful of any white man s inten- 
tions, refused to come close to this lanky gringo and his 
magic medicine. But his persistent friendliness, plus his 
talent for performing "miracles" of healing, in time won 
them over. 

There was, for instance, the Aymara woman who had been 
gored by a bull. Almost completely disemboweled, her intes- 
tines were hanging out when Beck got to her. To an obbligato 
of her groans and wailing by the pueblo people, a witch-doc- 
tor was uttering loud incantations and feverishly slapping on 
herbs and leaves. Almost by force, Beck took the woman 
back to his clinic, sewed her up, and in two weeks she was 
back home. The people gaped in unbelief. "Why she not 
die? 7 * they exclaimed. "Everything all on outside, now all 

As a result, more and more Aymaras came trudging into 
the clinic, or brought their sick to mutely lay before him 
along roads and rivers where he was known to come. 

Dr. Beck asked no pay of the Aymaras. In their gratitude, 
however, they sometimes put a chicken or a few eggs or 
ears of com on his clinic doorstep or on the seat of his motor- 
cycle side-car. 

The medical profession in La Paz, what there was of it, 
gave him a hard time at first. They did not relish this out- 
lander coming in to take patients from whom they could 
exact exorbitant fees. They liked even less his acting as 
though Indians' lives counted. His temporary license to 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 161 

practice was alternately revoked and renewed for years. But 
tie went right on practicing, license or no license. 

In 1932, with a war being waged between Bolivia and 
Paraguay, Beck was asked to provide medical assistance for 
the Bolivian Army. The war was fought in a disease-cursed 
jungle area called the Gran Chaco more realistically dubbed 
"the Green Hell." Soldiers died like flies from tuberculosis, 
malaria, instestinal infections. Beck, burning with malaria 
himself, fought to save casualties of both germs and bullets. 
He could operate only between four and six o'clock in the 
morning, after the clouds of mosquitoes had dispersed and 
before swarms of vicious gnats took over. For Ms unsparing 
labors during the fighting he was awarded the "Condor of 
the Andes/' the highest honor that is ever given to for- 

In 1935, desperate to expand Ms 15-bed hospital, Beck 
gambled most of Ms meager funds on a trip to the United 
States to seek building money. When none was available from 
his mission board, he sought individual donors, and finally 
reached Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer of the Hudnut family. 
Before them he spread out photographs, talked steadily for 
15 minutes. Mrs. Pfeiffer finally halted Mm to say quietly, 
"Well give you $30,000." 

Jubilantly, he returned to La Paz and began construction 
on a suburban site. To stretch his capital he pitched in him- 
self, pushing wheelbarrows of cement, doing all the wiring. 
To friends who marveled at his mechanical resourcefulness, 
he replied that if he had Ms way every missionary would be 
born and raised on a farm. "What I learned on the farm has 
been more important to me as a missionary doctor than much 
that I learned at medical school/' he said. When Ms building 

162 Adventurers for God 

fund ran low he invited local mine-owners and businessmen 
to send their employees for treatment, asked for construction 
help in return. Receiving a small inheritance from his father, 
he threw it into the project, as well as every spare dollar he 
could find from any source. 

Meanwhile, Beck kept up a barrage of appeals to friends 
back home. From a man in Montclair, New Jersey, came an 
electric generator for use during power failures; from a 
woman in Pittsburgh an elevator. American and British resi- 
dents of La Paz contributed furniture, an oxygen tent, 
an incubator, an inhalator. When the hospital was completed 
it was the most modern in Bolivia, capable of handling 80 

Beck's particular pride was the home and school for 30 
nurses. When he had arrived in Bolivia, nursing as a profes- 
sion was virtually unknown. Young women with education 
sufficient to qualify for training (mostly Spanish, from 
wealthy families ) scorned nursing as "servant work." To get 
the necessary technical personnel, Beck brought in under- 
privileged girls, imbued them with the idea that here was a 
chance at a professional life not otherwise open to them, 
then rigidly drilled them in the arts of healing. 

By 1955 the nursing school of Clinica Americana had 
turned out 103 graduates. Today hospitals, health centers 
and clinics throughout Latin America clamor for nurses 
trained there. At one time the public-health section of 
Servicio Cooperative Interamericano, U.S. foreign-aid 
agency, had 34 Beck-trained nurses on its staff, declared 
them "the best in the world." 

Dr. Beck is gratified by such accolades, but even more by 
the fact that the Bolivian government is closely copying his 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 163 

nurse-training program in its public health service. He says: 
"The biggest contribution that medical missions can make 
is to stimulate others to do for themselves." 

At Clinica Americana, mornings were for operations 
often as many as six a day; afternoons for out-patient con- 
sultations, which averaged 7400 a year. Beck's charge to all 
was 1000 bolivianos (about 20^) if his patients had it On 
Wednesday afternoons, his only time off duty, he visited La 
Paz orphanages to conduct clinics, perform minor operations, 
bandage up wounds, making no charge to either patient or 

Beck's nurses said of him, "Only God could be more omni- 
present." From the first he insisted on living in a small apart- 
ment on the clinic's top floor where he could hear every night 
sound, tell by a nurse's step down the corridor whether he 
was needed. "When you're trying to do a job," he said, 
"you've got to be on the job." Told he would kill himself by 
overwork, he snorted: "Work doesn't kill a man; worry does." 

Bed patients soon learned to detect his short, quick step 
in the corridors, were comforted by his habit of softly singing 
hymns, humming or whistling as he performed operations. 
One, asked if her emergency appendectomy was an ordeal, 
replied, "How could it be? The senor doctor's voice was 
more soothing than the anesthetic." 

Between clinical chores in La Paz, Beck continued his 
trips to the Altiplano to conduct wayside clinics, deliver 
babies, take out teeth, patch up broken bones, pep-talk the 
people into better self -health measures. 

Some time ago a delegation of Indians tramped four days 
to ask Beck to start a school at Ancoraimes, on beautiful Lake 
Titicaca. Their children needed both education and medi- 

164 Adventurers for God 

cine. "How else/* asked their spokesman, "can we help our 
people to a better life?" 

Next day. Beck mounted his motorcycle, its side-car packed 
with tools, nails, rough siding. The Indians helped him throw 
up a one-room structure, then spread the word that education 
had at long last come to Ancoraimes. 

When school opened, Aymara children were present in 
droves. School had no sooner begun than the town's mayor 
appeared, trailing a cordon of police. Beck was thrown into 
jail, spent the night fuming in his cell. In court the next day, 
he indignantly addressed the magistrate. "They say I have 
no right to start a school here, or vaccinate youx children 
against smallpox. What in humanity's name . . ." 

The Judge smiled and lifted a hand. "You don't remember 
me. Dr. Beck? I studied under you at the American Insti- 
tute!" He called the authorities to the bench, made them 
apologize. Then, turning to Beck, he said: "Please teach us 
better manners toward our benefactors." 

Today, as a result of Beck's help, there are 18 Methodist 
schools on Titicaca's shores, plus a small clinic and a four- 
room cottage for the doctor. The schools and clinic serve 
26,000 Indians, who come from 35 miles around. The settle- 
ment is named "Beck Memorial." 

Political revolutions in Bolivia occur with whimsical regu- 
larity. During his 44 years there, Beck survived many. Never 
taking sides, he deplored them mainly for their inevitable 
dumping of wounded on his doorstep. When he saw an 
upheaval coming, he alerted his staff, then took care of the 
casualties as they came, with no regard to the side they 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 165 

After one unusually violent upset some years back, an 
officer of the successful coup stamped into the clinic to de- 
mand preferred treatment for his patriots. Beck grabbed 
his arm and marched him outside fast. "I'm in command 
here," he said firmly. "Go!" 

During the 1944 revolution, a cocky young soldier burst 
into the clinic. "It is believed you have fugitives here," he 
boomed. "I search!" Amused, Beck led Mm gravely through 
the wards, only slightly discomforted by the sub-machine 
gun the boy carelessly waved in Ms face. Beck was about to 
open the last door when the soldier lowered his gun, acci- 
dentally tripped the trigger, and blew off half Ms own toe. 
Enraged that anyone would so carelessly endanger Ms pa- 
tients. Beck escorted the soldier to surgery and took off the 
rest of his toe without benefit of anesthetic. 

To Bolivian politicians, this blunt but courageous Ameri- 
can was at first an enigma, then a delight. Almost every 
regime has sought Ms counsel, wanting to know what he 
thought of their policies. "Dr. Beck," a prominent leader 
informed me, "always gives it to us straight, as you Americans 
say. It's refreshing and helpful. He's been more of a politi- 
cal power than he realizes. For he thinks with his heart/* 

When the Siles government came to power in 1952, sweep- 
ing land reforms were initiated. Indians, for the first time in 
400 years, now own their own land, are able to negotiate 
wages. In June of 1956 they were given the right to vote, 
something hitherto unknown in Bolivia's long history. Though 
Beck thought the reforms went too fast and too far, they 
dramatically reflected Ms long striving for the rights of the 

Early in 1956 Frank Beck announced Ms retirement and 

166 Adventurers for God 

return to the United States. It was his third try at leaving 
the clinic and the people he loved. The first was in 1944 
when, suffering from arthritis of the spine, he was told he 
would have to quit the high altitude. But, after seven months 
in the States, word reached him that the burden had proved 
too much for his successor. Beck hustled back to his clinic. 

His second try at retirement was in 1950. A Texas mining 
concern promptly offered him a job at $12,000 a year a 
handsome sum for a man whose salary as a missionary had 
not averaged above $750 a year, on which he and Mrs. Beck 
had educated three of their own and two adopted children. 
But he turned it down to serve with the Associated Medical 
Missions office in New York, charged with certifying mission- 
ary doctors. For two years he chafed under the desk routine, 
brooded over how things were going in La Paz. Then his 
second successor also resigned under the strainand once 
again he happily headed back to Bolivia. 

Before his last retirement, Dr. Beck took the precaution of 
having his passport stamped with the "reingreso" visa, per- 
mitting him to return at any time. "Just in case/' he said 
with a grin. 

The Becks were given a royal send-off, with many 
speeches. U.S. Ambassador Gerald A. Drew asserted: "I have 
served in many countries, but in none has one man done 
so much to benefit the people of a land not his own." 

An Aymara chieftain said simply: "He brought my people 
back to life." 

Frank Beck wound up his 44 years in Bolivia typically. On 
the day of his departure, there were five operations to be 
done. One of the last was performed on a 3-year-old Indian 
boy whose tongue, horribly tumored and projecting inches 

Bolivia's Most Unforgettable Character 167 

from his mouth, had to be removed to save his life. The 
child being an orphan, Beck had arranged for his 6-year-old 
sister to stay in the room with him. After the operation he 
found her there, one small brown hand smoothing the child's 
forehead, while bravely she straggled to hold back the tears 
streaming down her face. 

I watched as Dr. Beck gathered the little form into his 
arms, heard him say gently, over and over: Estard Men, 
mania pequena" . . . "It's going to be all right, little mother. 
It's going to be all right," 

In essence, this has been Frank Beck's lifelong message to 
Bolivia's poor and oppressed. 

All over Latin America thousands todav will affirm that 


he went a far way toward making the promise come true. 

Trevor Huddlesfon of Sophiatotm, 
South Africa 


Man Agamstfc 

One September day in 1943 a 29-year-old priest of the 
Church of England stepped off a ship into a South Africa 
aboil with race tensions. Less than three years before, hand- 
some Trevor Huddleston, scion of a noted British family, had 
taken his vows in an Anglican monastic order called the 
Community of the Resurrection, whose members are com- 
mitted to bring to bear upon society the social implications 
of the Christian gospel 

Those implications were sorely needed in the Union of 
South Africa, a fiery caldron of rising hatreds between the 
country's two and a half million whites and ten million non- 
whites. Busily stoking the flames was the Nationalist Party 
leader who would become Prime Minister in 1948, Dr. Daniel 
F. Malan, to whom white made right and whose twin slogans 
were: "Africa for the Afrikanders" and "Keep the Kaffir in 
his place.'' Malan's formula for achieving both aims was 
apartheid., meaning race separation, and pronounced, signif- 
icantly, "apart-hate." 

Huddleston's appointment was to Sophiatown, a black 
township in the city of Johannesburg. His mission station was 
the one that novelist Alan Paton used as a setting for his 
1948 best-seller, Cry, the Beloved Country, The young priest 


One Man Against "Apartheid? 9 169 

was appalled when he saw apartheid at work. Johannesburg's 
white suburbs were lovely with beautiful homes and gardens; 
its areas reserved for blacks were bleak, crowded shanty- 

The color bar was high and forbidding; one could cross 
it only at the risk of his life. Natives moved about knee- 
deep in restrictions. Signs were up everywhere, sorting the 
two races like an efficient machine. By day the native could 
mine the white man's gold, wash his dishes, tend his garden, 
mind his babies, empty his garbage cans. But at night the 
races separated, one half proceeding to lovely homes in 
the suburbs, the other to squalid shelters in the slums. 

Apartheid, often enforced by police clubs, was breeding 
envy, resentment and hatred in frightening proportions. One 
sign at a street crossing was symptomatic: it had been 
amended to read "Natives Very Cross Here!" And Johan- 
nesburg's white citizens recognized the hatred by bolting 
their houses at night, sleeping with revolvers under their 
pillows. That first evening in Johannesburg, Huddleston 
prayed with fierce intensity: "God, give me strength to fight 
this evil thing!" 

His crusade to break the shackles of Africans soon made 
him a target for the revilings of racists. Frequently termed 
an agitator, he replied quietly, <<r The Christian is always, if 
true to his calling, an agitator." But the blacks, with whom he 
was to Mve for 12 years, called him Makhalipile "dauntless 
one." Soon the tall, spare figure striding through Sophia- 
town, his cassock whipping about his long legs and a clutch 
of youngsters at his heels, became a familiar sight. 

From the first he resolved to identify himself completely 
with the people of Sophiatown, their struggles, their hopes 

170 Adventurers for God 

and dreams. He did not think of them as black but as peo- 
ple. Their response was immediate. They flocked to his 
church. His compassion for them matched his indignation at 
their treatment. He knew that morality and integrity were 
not easy virtues in a society which denied all chance for 
human dignity. It disturbed him to hear himself giving 
counsel that 1 know I could not follow in the same cir- 
cumstances." Yet, despite all that made goodness difficult 
to achieve, he saw his people taking on spiritual stature. 

His indignation flamed one day when he heard a Dutch 
Reformed Church leader assert that "mixed worship would 
scarcely be edifying." The word rankled in his heart as 
he went that evening to hear confessions. He noted in his 
diary, "Old Martha is beside me now. She used to work 
in a white kitchen, but cannot now because of her arthritis. 
Her hands, calloused from work in the white man's kitchen, 
and gnarled with arthritis, are clasping a prayer book. I 
kneel with her and indeed I am not 'edified.' I only want 
to kneel and wash those old and weary feet!" 

Of all the restrictions spawned by apartheid, none got 
Huddleston's dander so high as the pass laws. To go any- 
where, any time, the native must carry a pass. Easy to lose 
or misplace and reissue made difficult by the deliberate 
procrastination of officials the pass is the native's slender 
right to freedom. To be without it is a crime punishable by 
fine or imprisonment, often by police brutality, and some- 
times death. 

Of some 75,000 Negroes jailed each year in Johannesburg, 
approximately two thirds are pass-law offenders. Trials 
average less than two minutes each. "Pass-law crimes re- 
quire no docket to be opened, no witness to be questioned. 

One Man Against "Apartheid? 9 171 

no statements to be taken/* a police official explains. "Non- 
production of a pass, or a pass out of order, is generally 
proof in itself that an offense has been committed." 

Father Huddleston was soon devoting much of his precious 
time and scant mission funds to helping pass-violators. An 
employe or schoolboy at his mission would disappear. Nine 
times out of ten he would be found in jail thrown in with. 
hardened crooks, drug addicts, murderers, simply because 
he'd left his pass at home. 

Often a pass was no deterrent to police wanting to im- 
press their authority on a native. One morning Father 
Huddleston found Jonas, one of his schoolboys, in the jail 
yard, charged with vagrancy. "Where was your pass?'* he 
asked. "They tore it up/' the boy replied. The priest stormed 
into the police station, found the torn pass in the waste- 
basket. When he refused to surrender it, he himself was 
arrested. A few days later the prison commandant apologized 
to Huddleston, not to Jonas. 

Many pass-law cases ended tragically, particularly if a 
native defended himself in any manner that could be re- 
garded as "cheeky." On one occasion, one of Father Hud- 
dleston's flock died of a bladder injury after being kicked 
in the stomach by police. The priest went to court with 
affidavits from two doctors stating the nature of the in- 
jury. The magistrate brushed him off. The verdict: the man 
died of "congenital syphilis." 

Huddleston saw that the pass laws caused more crime 
than they curbed. The Africans reasoned: "If it's a crime to 
be in the street without a bit of paper, and if that crime 
is punished with a fine or imprisonment, why not commit 
a crime that's worth while?" Consequently, Johannesburg 

Adventurers for God 

has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and black 
Johannesburg is largely ruled by criminals. 

To help beat back crime's rising tide in Sophiatown, 
Father Huddleston addressed himself to what police caE "the 
No. 1 problem in urban Africa" the tsotsis. These are teen- 
age gangs who terrorized the streets with stabbings, rapes, 
robberies. Huddleston, convinced that the high rate of youth 
crime was greatly encouraged by the lack of recreational 
facilities, started a club for the tsotsis, enrolled them as 
acolytes in his church. His rooms were "open house" where 
youngsters could come to read magazines, talk out their 
hopes and fears. 

When the Community of the Resurrection offered the 
city council seven acres of church property for use as an 
African recreation center, a white vigilance committee 
moved in fast to defeat the project. Undismayed, Father 
Huddleston wrote a letter to the Rand Daily Mail, pointing 
out: "There are 12 public swimming pools and 3000 pri- 
vate pools in Johannesburg for whites but none for Afri- 

He boldly appealed for funds to build a pool at Orlando, 
a jam-packed Negro "location 2 " near Sophiatown. It took him 
three years to raise the money, but when the pool was 
opened SOCK) Africans were on hand, and 600 black young- 
sters leaped in, clothes and all, shouting and splashing. 
Thenceforth delinquency took a sharp dive in that area. 

He used the newspapers to call attention to another prob- 
lem: the vast amount of starvation ("which we euphemis- 
tically call 'malnutrition'") among African children. He 
wrote: "Every white child is entitled to a free meal at school 
which costs the state sixpence a day. African lads get noth- 

One Man Against "Apartheid" 173 

ing." The next day lie was deluged with offers of food, 
clothes, money. 

Ultimately his pressure along with the help of a small 
group of concerned European women resulted in the feed- 
ing scheme being extended to all African schools, at the 
rate of twopence per day per head. Wryly he commented 
on "the strange anomaly of well-to-do European children 
receiving a free meal at three times the value of that al- 
lowed an African child/' but went ahead setting up centers 
in every Negro township and 'location" until his project was 
feeding 5000 children a day. 

A new field beckoned one day when he discovered a 14- 
year-old boy, inspired by a Louis Armstrong record, wist- 
fully pining for a trumpet. Wangling an instrument from a 
music shop, he persuaded an African trumpeter to give the 
youngster lessons. Then, remembering a visiting musician's 
statement that "J azz bands first breached the color bar in 
the United States/' he begged and cajoled other instruments 
for what became known as the "Huddleston Jazz Band." 

He also formed a musical society in Sophiatown, and 
encouraged top African artists to share their talents with 
his people. And whenever a distinguished white artist played 
in Johannesburg, Huddleston asked him to come to Sophia- 
town. After Yehudi Menuhin had given a concert in his 
mission, Huddleston noted in his diary: "A door was opened, 
and my Africans marched through it into a new and en- 
trancing world of sound." 

The Johannesburg ban against entertaining colored peo- 
ple in hotels or white homes was an evil which Huddle- 
ston turned to good. Africans or -Asians of noteartists, 
statesmen, lecturers traveling through Johannesburg were 

174 Adventurers for God 

welcomed at the mission, where they readily entertained his 

In 1954 the Malan government issued a death edict for 
Sophiatown. By an accident of history Sophiatown was one 
of the few South African townships where natives had free- 
hold tenurethe right to own their own homes. The area 
had its shantytown regions, caused by packing 70,000 peo- 
ple into space suited for 30,000; but it also had miles of little 
red-roofed homes lining tree-shaded streets. Huddleston had 
encouraged his people to improve their homes, dreaming 
of turning the area into a model African suburb. But native- 
owned homes were a denial of apartheid. So, under the ex- 
cuse of "slum clearance,'* the Western Areas Resettlement 
Act condemned the township to be razed. The natives would 
be sent to an area where freehold tenure did not exist 

February 10, 1955, was Removal Day. The streets were 
filled with 2000 police and military lorries loading the peo- 
ple's pathetic belongings. Huddleston stood helplessly with 
Ms people, watching and weeping. "I do not weep for the 
destruction of the material," he wrote that day, "but because 
we Christians of Johannesburg have failed so utterly to 
uphold principle against prejudice, the rights of persons 
against the claims of power/' 

In April 1955 the government dealt Huddleston and all 
Christian mission schools an even bigger defeat. With, the 
passage of the Bantu Education Act, all schools were put 
under state control. For 100 years Christian missionaries had 
pioneered in education for Africans; nearly every African 
who could read or write had been educated in a mission 
school. But the mission schools had made one fatal error: 
they had taught the black man that he, too, was a child of 

One Man Against Apartheid ' 175 

God, who made "of one blood all the nations of the earth." 
The Minister of Native Affairs, H. F. Verwoerd, charged 
in the Senate: "The mission schools" curriculum and educa- 
tional practice, by ignoring apartheid., have been unable 
to prepare the native for service within the Bantu commu- 
nity." The mission control of schools 5 therefore, would have 
to go. 

By now Father Huddleston, as provincial of his Com- 
munity's order in South Africa, was also superintendent of 
St. Peter's, a secondary boarding school for natives. Known 
as the "Black Eton of South Africa," with many distinguished 
alumni, St. Peter's was his pride. His dilemma was: Should 
St. Peter's continue under the new regime, teaching a syl- 
labus it considered un-Christian? Or was "Bantu education" 
better than no education, as some religious leaders argued? 
Father Huddleston decided on "death with honor." St. 
Peter's would close. 

Huddleston's chief sorrow today is not that he lost so 
many of his battles against apartheid but that he had so little 
help from his fellow Christians. To Afrikander leaders of the 
Dutch Reformed Church, which has not only supported 
apartheid but attempted to find a Biblical basis for it, he 
once sighed, "The truth is, gentlemen, that we seem to wor- 
ship different Gods." 

Among churchmen of his own and other denominations 
he has spoken out like a cymbal among the flutes. "It Is 
my considered opinion," he says, "that unless the Christian 
Church in South Africa really faces this issue honestly, 
within the next generation or less it may well lose and de- 
servedlythe allegiance of the African people.' 7 

Under the present regime, any African asking for equal- 

176 Adventurers for God 

ity of opportunity and a measure of justice and brotherhood 
is dubbed a Communist. It pains Huddleston to see Com- 
munism "getting official credit for the most elementary ideals 
of Christian democracy/' Therein he sees a clear and pres- 
ent danger. "Will it be too surprising," he asks, "if Africans 
become more and more curious about Communism as more 
and more of their expressions of hope are labeled Com- 

For all his defeats, Huddleston saw hope in the slow 
stirring of the conscience of whites. One day his telephone 
rang and a voice said: "You don't know me, Father. I'm 
a South African of the third generation, so I suppose I have 
all the usual prejudices. But could you use 100 for your 
work?" And there were many others like him. Also, increas- 
ingly heavy mail came in from unnamed whites who wrote: 
"Keep up the good work, Father!" 

Were all these people merely salving an uneasy conscience? 
"Perhaps in some cases," he said. '"But I believe there lies 
behind their action a deeper meaning the same which 
drove Nicodemus out into the night to visit the Galilean 

Early in 1956 his Community recalled him to England 
to take charge of the training of novices, many of whom 
had entered the order because of his example. The order 
felt that Huddleston, in the face of almost insurmountable 
barriers, could accomplish more outside the country. 

Before leaving, Huddleston sat in the now-empty St. 
Peter's and wrote a book, Naught for Your Comfort, which, 
with rare eloquence, told the story of his 12 years in South 

One Man Against "Apartheid 9 177 

His Africans gave him a send-off such as had seldom been 
seen in black Johannesburg. Proud in their new uniforms, his 
"Huddleston Jazz Band" played for him. Speeches and trib- 
utes were voiced by African leaders. Afterward, many of his 
people came up to seize his hand and lass it. Everywhere 
voices were lifted in the African goodbye: "Hamba kahle, 
MdkJialipile 9 Ci Go well, dauntless one!" 

When his departure became known in government circles, 
Johannes Strijdom, who succeeded Malan as Prime Minister 
in 1954, is said to have exclaimed, "Well, thank God, that's 
the last well hear of him!" 

Mr. Strijdom was never more wrong. 

Leo Halliwell of Brazil 


JMiecllcine on me Amazon 

The little wMte launch swerved out of the Amazon 
mainstream and headed up a narrow tributary. Bravely flying 
a pennant depicting a hand holding a torch aloft, it brushed 
jungle growth on both sides. At the helm sat a stocky man 
whose keen eyes searched the occasional clearings along the 
banks. Suddenly, from a thatched hut a woman ran out, 
frantically waving a towel. The helmsman nosed the boat's 
prow into the bank, grabbed a black bag and leaped ashore. 

In the hut a man lay screaming in agony. He had just 
been bitten in the foot by a dreaded bushmaster, deadliest 
of all Amazonia's snakes. Neighbors were hastily building a 
fire, preparing to burn the foot until it was completely 
charred usual treatment for snakebite in that remote region. 
The man from the boat hastily loaded a syringe with anti- 
venin, made an injection and saved another life. 

This was Leo Halliwell, an American missionary with a 
unique ministry. He had no medical degree, not even a phar- 
macist's certificate, yet for 25 years he carried modern med- 
icine to the Amazon Valley's neglected inhabitants. Steering 
his aquatic clinic up and down the 1000-mile stretch of river 
between Belem and Manaus, covering some 12,000 miles a 
year, Halliwell treated more than a quarter of a million 
Brazilians and Indians for a host of tropical and other dis- 


Medicine Man on the Amazon 179 

eases. He also gave some 50,000 smallpox vaccinations, 
handed out literally tons of medicines and unguents, patched 
up thousands of accident victims. 

Best of all, he helped awaken the Brazilian government 
to the fact that of the region's many rich resources its people 
are the most important; their health may well decide whether 
Amazonia's fabulous potential is to be developed or left 

During his youth in Kearney, Nebraska, the notion of being 
a missionary never crossed Leo HalliwelTs mind. With a tal- 
ent for mechanical tinkering, he studied electrical engineer- 
ing at the state university. But one day, four years after grad- 
uation, he heard exciting stories told by a missionary to Peru. 
On impulse he applied to the Seventh-day Adventist mission 
board. In short order he and his graduate-nurse bride, Jessie, 
were on their way to Bahia, Brazil, 

In Bahia the mission leaders soon found they had a re- 
cruit steaming with energy, imagination, ingenuity. "Just 
looking for latitude," he would say when asked why he 
so restlessly sought new fields. Ample latitude was provided 
when, in 1929, he was asked to pioneer the mission's work in 
north Brazil. 

The Halliwells realized how huge was their new field when 
they reached Belem, near the Amazon's 207-mile-wide 
mouth. Their parish included the whole Amazon basin, al- 
most as big as the continent of Europe. 

The Amazon itself was awesome: so deep that transat- 
lantic steamers can go up it for 2300 miles, so wide that one 
must go 400 miles farther before it narrows to the width of 
the Mississippi at its mouth. And feeding into it is a mesh 
of more than 500 tributaries, many of them more than 1000 

180 Adventurers for God 

miles long. Strung out along these endless waterways live 
two million people; an estimated 300,000 are Stone Age 
Indians, the rest a racial amalgam of Portuguese, Negro, 

In Belem the Halliwells held evangelistic meetings, visited 
from house to house, made a few converts, got a small school 
going. But amid this work with city Brazilians, Halliwell was 
increasingly haunted by the thought of the unreached river 
people. Many were descendants of the hordes of adven- 
turers who had flocked in during the rubber boom of 1900-12 
and were now left stranded in this immense backwater to 
eke out their precarious tenure in the jungle wilds. To make 
matters worse, it was said, they bred like flies and many 
of their offspring lived about as long. 

After a few months in Belem, Halliwell went up the 
Amazon by river boat and canoe to see his outlying par- 
ishioners. He was dismayed by the people's poverty and 
superstition, especially by their disease. Their strength was 
sapped by malaria and malnutrition; their lives were short- 
ened by smallpox, syphilis, leprosy; their existence was 
threatened by poisonous snakes, alligators, jaguars and other 
beasts; there wasn't a doctor in all the jungle wilderness. 

To Jessie he said, "Isn't it one of our Adventist tenets that 
'medical work is the right arm of the Gospel'?*' She nodded, 
and he vowed, "I'm going to give that arm some exercise!" 

He used his 1930 furlough in the United States for a six- 
month course in tropical diseases. Jessie brushed up on mid- 
wifery, nutrition, sanitation. They talked before church 
groups and collected money for their "Amazon adventure." 

Back in Brazil, Leo sketched a design for a shallow-draft, 
30-foot boat with a 10-foot beam. He hacked out the hull 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 181 

by hand from Amazon hardwoods and installed the engine 
and wiring himself. He christened it the Luzeiro (Portu- 
guese for "Light Bearer"), stocked it with as much quinine, 
Epsom salts, salves and bandages as he could buy or scrounge 
and set out with Jessie. 

Leo knew less about navigation than he did about doctor- 
ing, and it took some harrowing experiences to accustom 
him to the Amazon's treacherous currents and moods. Today 
old river hands testify, "Nobody knows the Amazon better/' 

The moods of the Indians were equally difficult. Most 
of the tribes, fleeing the white man's advance, had settled 
along the headwaters of the Amazon's tributaries. Living 
a primeval existence, many fiercely resisted with blow guns 
and poisoned arrows the encroachments of strangers. 

At sight of the Luzeiro in the Andira River the Indians of 
the Maues tribe fled in terror; they had never seen a "canoe" 
like this. Halliwell brought out his victrola and put on a band 
record. Presently the Indians crept out of the woods, crowded 
around the instrument, chattering among themselves. They 
were just as amazed by the miraculously quick effects of 
quinine on malaria fever then raging in the village. 

The Halliwells soon learned to begin their annual odyssey 
upriver early in February, after the river had begun its 
mighty rise (in some pkces as high as 60 feet). It reaches 
full flood stage in May and June and that season supplies 
the most water for easy access to the people; it also creates 
the greatest needs. Floodtime is inevitably tragedy-time for 
Amazon dwellers; the forest is inundated and homes are 
washed away. On each voyage, Halliwell told the people 
the approximate time of his return, asked them to hang 
out a white cloth to signal their need. Soon every mile of his 

182 Adventurers for God 

journey was lined with Muttering cloths. For three consecu- 
tive years, Mrs. Halliwell delivered the babies of the wife of 
the mayor of a certain town. How did the blessed events hap- 
pen to coincide with the Luzeirds visits? "I planned it that 
way," said the wife. 

Dangerous as was the constant threat from, jungle beasts 
and reptiles, the swarms of flying and crawling things pro- 
duced even more misery and death. An unbelievable variety 
of insects flies, bugs, bees, ants, wasps, ticks, chiggers as- 
sailed the people day and night. 

The most serious menace to health in the Amazon was 
malaria. At every stop Halliwell was greeted by listless, 
half-alive people aflame with fever. 

The throb of the Luzeirds motors became a song of hope 
up and down the Amazon and its maze of waterways. Soon 
he was treating as many as 300 malaria patients a day, 
distributing up to 50,000 quinine tablets a year. 

At one place the Halliwells were flagged by a man in 
a canoe who led them to a home that was one large room 
with a center pole supporting the thatched roof. From the 
pole to the side walls, like spokes in a wheel, were stretched 
22 hammocks. In each lay a victim burning with high fever. 
By the time Leo had treated them, word had spread and 
canoes by the score were arriving. Some bore sick, others 
carried messengers begging him to come to relatives or 

o oo o 

friends. In one home he found a 10-year-old girl, whose 
entire family had been taken by the fever. She had tried 
to bury her mother, father and older brother, but was too 
weak from fever to dig deep graves. When Halliwell ar- 
rived, dogs had unearthed the bodies and were dragging 
portions about the yard. 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 183 

In the beginning he used injections of quinine and methy- 
line blue, then counted out enough quinine capsules to leave 
with the patients for follow-up. Later, when such products as 
atabrine, cloroquin and camouquin became available, he 
used these in the same immense quantities. 

When leaving medicines with the people, Halliwell learned 
to make crystal clear his instructions for their use. Once he 
returned after three days to be told by the wife of a patient 
that her husband had taken all 67 grains of quinine in one 
gulp. Halliwell inquired anxiously, "Did he die?" The 
woman replied, "Oh, no. His ears rang a little, but it cured 
him. He's out in the eld working!" 

Another time his instructions went awry was when he 
left some medicine for a small boy. "How will I know when 
to give the doses?" asked the mother. "We have no clock." 
Halliwell replied, "You have a rooster? When he crows 
give him a dose/' When he dropped by days later to inquire 
about the boy, the woman reported, "My boy's fine now 
but the rooster died!" 

Halliwell himself had been 15 years in the Amazon before 
he got malaria. In a river town he had stopped off to help 
a Catholic priest for two days, sweatily getting his brother 
Christian's power plant in order. When he came back to the 
boat, he was too tired to close the screens. The resulting ma- 
laria kept him inactive for weeks. But on the whole, using 
proper precautions and taking his own medicine, he and his 
wife maintained exuberant health amid rampant sickness 
of all lands. 

At first the Halliwells had to purchase medicines from 
their slender mission resources, then enlist young people of 
the Belem church to put them in capsules and bottles. In 

184 Adventurers for God 

later years their medicine chest was kept supplied by doctors 
and pharmaceutical houses in the United States, and by the 
public health departments of the states of Para and Ama- 
zonas. During World War II, when quinine was almost un- 
obtainable, an American wholesale drug dealer in Argentina 
called Halliwell to his office. He unlocked a large depository, 
pointed to stacked piles of quinine and said, "Look closely." 
On every wrapper HalliwelTs name was written. "That's 
our entire stock," he said. "But I want you to have it!" 

Governors of several Brazilian states soon were making 
generous personal contributions to Halliwell. One said, "No 
one is doing so much for my people. Please let me help." 

Second only to malaria as a debilitator of the people, 
Halliwell early discovered, was the hookworm. Fully 90 per 
cent of the river dwellers had worms. A safe rule of thumb 
was, "When in diagnostic doubt, give a dose of worm med- 

In the early years, the Luzeiro carried huge stores of Epsom 
salts and castor oil. The people took these remedies without 
question, often begged for more whatever their trouble. 
Typical was the old man who came one day to the boat 
deck where Halliwell was busy injecting for malaria. The 
old man had no fever, but his appearance shouted hook- 
worms. Halliwell gave him a dose of salts, promising, "This 
will make you 10 years younger." On the next trip, he found 
the old man at the head of the settlement's waiting line, 
spry and grinning. He wanted another dose. "I'd like to lose 
another 10 years!" he said. 

Skin troubles abounded. In Amazonia, the least abrasion 
provides entry for blood-lapping vampire bats, larvae-hatch- 
ing blowflies and screwworms that cause huge abscesses, 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 185 

yaws, ulcers. In one typical year, Halliwell used more than 
1000 injections of penicillin for yaws. 

Eye diseases, too, took their toll. On an island in the lower 
Amazon he found a family of 12, all nearly blind with 
trachoma. He left them a bottle of sulphathiozole tablets to 
stave off the disease's progress, advised them to take the 
next steamer to the city to consult a good eye doctor. Four 
months later he stopped at the island to check, found that 
all had completely recovered without going to the city for 

As a rule, the Halliwells avoided treating complicated 
diseases, making arrangements to send severe cases to the 
nearest town. But jungle life is full of emergencies. One day 
while passing down a river, they heard screams. An alligator 
had seized a girl while she was washing clothes in the river. 
Her brother hammered the beast over the head until it let go, 
but the girl was horribly mangled. Halliwell bandaged her 
wounds and saved her life. Today the girl is an Adventist 

Another time, he had to treat a man who had just lost a 
leg while asleep in a canoe. In turning over in his sleep, the 
man stuck his foot out over the edge, and the 'gator had 
snapped off his leg at the knee. Later killed, the reptile 
measured over 20 feet long. 

Halliwell believed that religious faith played an important 
part in many of his more unorthodox healings. There was, 
for example, the young man convert in a tiny village upriver. 
His face horribly disfigured by leprosy, his body covered 
with large sores, he had been forbidden by the other vil- 
lagers to leave his house. Yet he had a burning zeal to be 
a Christian evangelist. Halliwell obtained some chaulmoogra 

186 Adventurers for God 

oil, gave Mm a few treatments, then left a quantity with 
careful instructions as to its injection. 

A year later, he returned to discover the boy had not 
only made big improvement but had converted nine other 
persons having induced his sister to invite neighbors into 
an adjoining room so that he could stand at his door to 
preach to them. After hundreds of injections, mostly self- 
administered, the youth finally recovered completely, has 
23 certificates from public health authorities attesting to his 
cure, is now devoting his life to helping other lepers along 
the river, 

The Halliwells never made any charge for their services. 
However, in gratitude, the river people often brought little 
gifts, shyly depositing them on the Luzeirds decka squash, 
an egg, pieces of deer meat, small bunches of bananas. 

Only rarely did Halliwell meet opposition from the medical 
profession and never from Brazilian doctors. Despite his 
lack of a medical degree, his aid and counsel were fre- 
quently sought by medical societies. 

Some Indians, however, did oppose him. The chief of the 
Maues, Caetano, was willing to assign land for a school 
which Halliwell started with the help of a Brazilian teacher, 
but he disdained gringo medicine and religion for himself. 
Then a smallpox epidemic ravaged the village. Caetano al- 
lowed Halliwell to vaccinate every survivor except himself. 
He refused to let the white man "puncture my arm." On 
the Halliwells' next visit, months later, they found the old 
chief in his hut, covered with smallpox. He gasped through 
parched lips, "I wrong. When disease come, I only man to 
get it. Please puncture me now/' 

In 1955 Caetano accepted Christianity, quickly became 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 187 

a Help in spreading it among other tribes. Today the school 
and church at the Manes village are thriving as are many 
others started in Amazonia by the Halliwells. 

Halliwell became the Indians' trusted friend. A few years 
ago, when a promoter of rosewood distilling moved up the 
Andira to establish a plant in their territory, five Maues 
chiefs assembled the tribes, prepared 2000 poisoned arrows 
to kill him and all his workers. They were on the point of 
attack when Halliwell came up the river. To the chiefs he 
said, "You have right on your side. But your action will 
only bring more trouble. Go instead to the authorities at 
Manaus." The chiefs nodded gravely, "White medicine man's 
counsel is good. We do." And the matter was settled with- 
out bloodshed. 

In order to reach still more people Leo equipped the 
Luzeiro with a generator that would provide power and 
illumination for a sound projector. Using colored slides and 
films with a Portuguese sound track, the Halliwells held 
classes regularly in river-bank clearings. Such modern gadg- 
ets at first startled then delighted the people. One woman, 
upon hearing a soprano tuned in from New York on Halli- 
well's short-wave radio, demanded, * What that?** When 
told It was "a woman thousands of miles away singing to 
us," she exclaimed, wide-eyed, "Mae de Deus y what a pair 
of lungs!" 

Immense crowds came to look and listen, many people 
paddling In canoes for hours to reach the Jungle classroom, 
where they learned, among other things, about nutrition and 
were encouraged to plant gardens to supplement their vi- 
tamin-poor diet. 

One day Halliwell noted several children with bleeding 

188 Adventurers for God 

gums scurvy. Near their hut were lime trees; he picked 
some of the limes, juiced them in tea, wheedled the mother 
into promising to give it to her children regularly. Returning 
weeks later, he found the children's gums healed and a local 
fad started for "liine tea/' 

From an American friend in Manaus, Jessie collected 
choice grapefruit seeds and distributed them. Today, all 
along the river grapefruit trees abound and vitamin C defi- 
ciency has notably decreased. Along the Amazon, too, there 
are healthy babies, many of them named "Jess* 6 " and "Leo." 

When the Halliwells first came, the infant mortality rate 
in the Amazon Valley was 64 per cent. This has been im- 
pressively reduced in areas they regularly visited, in one 
region dropping as low as 10 per cent. 

Among the Indians, Mrs. Halliwell learned, it was cus- 
tomary for the wife to have her baby alone in the forest, 
being considered unclean. She would take it to a stream 
to wash it, then go back to work while her husband would 
put a towel over his head, lie down in his hammock for 
three days, groaning with the pangs of childbirth and coming 
parenthood. Indignant, she shamed such spouses into more 
responsibility and helpfulness. In some villages, as the result 
of her crusade, the custom is now extinct. 

The Halliwells also did much to revise hymeneal habits. 
Among Brazilian nationals especially, they found matrimony 
a free and easy affair. When smitten with the mating im- 
pulse, a man and woman just moved in together without 
benefit of ceremony. There being no divorce law in Brazil, 
a couple fed up with each other simply separated and sought 
more congenial partners. 

Tests for Indian grooms were more stringent. For him the 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 189 

tribe would prepare a pair of straw gloves, inserting in each 
a hive of poisonous insects capable of swelling a man's arms 
to twice their size. Around his knees a string of small bells 
would record any slightest quaking when the insects went 
to work. Before him stood his intended bride, ready to re- 
ject him at the bells' first tinkle. Survival of the test meant 
the pair were duly wed and could hang up the gloves in 
their home as their marriage certificate. 

Since Brazilian law does not recognize a religious ceremony 
alone as legal, and since the Amazon areas were exceedingly 
shy of qualified officials, Halliwell spent years arguing about 
"enforced immorality," finally talked the state of Amazonas 
into supplying a "marrying judge" for each section. 

The Halliwells made Christian as well as civil marriage 
one of the first requirements of converts. Soon he was many- 
ing people who had lived together for as long as 40 years. 
On his later trips he conducted many weddings, among 
them one for a couple whose oldest son, with a family of his 
own, was best man. The Luzeiro, besides being a home for 
the Halliwells, a church for the churchless, a hospital, clinic 
and ambulance, was often a gaily decorated wedding chapel. 

Leo Halliwell met nautical mishaps with ingenuity. He 
had to: there were no machine shops between Belem and 
Manaus, a 1000-mile stretch. His only drydock was the 
shore. When something went wrong, he would pull his ves- 
sel as close in as possible, wait for the tide to go down. 
When the water receded, the Luzeiro settled on dry land 
and he had several hours to work before the incoming tide 
set him afloat again. 

An ever-present danger was from logs floating just be- 
neath the surface. One morning, while crossing the river at 

190 Adventurers for God 

a point several miles wide and 800 feet deep, there was a 
sickening crash, and water began to pour in from a large 
hole in the hull. Leo grabbed up a long strip of canvas, 
called to Jessie, and the two passed a loop under the hull 
and worked it over the hole, where the water pressure held 
it in place until he could bail out the water and fasten a 
board over the stove-in spot. 

A sense of God's protecting hand gave him confidence, 
made him fearless. One day several years ago, the Luzeiro 
suddenly burst into flames. A careless boat boy had spilled 
gasoline when filling the stove. Leo grabbed a woolen 
blanket, rushed into the flaming galley, threw the blanket 
over the stove, heaved both overboard. The fire burned the 
spilled fuel on the floor without catching the wood "as if 
put out by the hand of the Lord." That night, before they 
went to sleep, Jessie opened the Bible and read aloud: 
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. 
When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be 
burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." 

A flood-time hazard to reaching people who live along 
smaller streams and on shores of backed-up lakes are floating 
grass islands. Looking like great pastures adrift, these clog 
channel entrances, require hours of work to pole them aside. 

An incident shortly after starting his Amazon work taught 
Leo never to pass up a place where he was expected, if it 
were humanly possible to reach it. A convert named Ribeiro 
had settled on a lake, separated from the river by a five-mile 
channel, where dwelt some 60 families. He sent Halliwell 
word that two weeks of meetings and medicines might 
Christianize the whole village. 

Arriving at the channel, Leo found it blocked, decided 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 191 

to pass on and make the visit next year. But next year, a 
tearful Ribeiro met him at the channel's now clear mouth. 
"It's too late," he cried. "The fever came and took them 
all. I alone am left!" 

Halliwell went up the channel to the lake, saw the aban- 
doned homes whose emptiness seemed to accuse him, sor- 
rowed for months that he had let "the river snatch these 
souls from us." 

At such times the river seemed an enemy, dark and 
threatening an enemy not to be surrendered to under any 
circumstances. But such moods were rare. The Halliwells, 
for all its raw savagery, loved the Amazon even as they 
loved its people. At evening, exhausted and weary, they 
would turn into some quiet igarape, anchor beside a bank 
bordering jungle a thousand miles deep and revel in their 

During the day the jungle may possess a silence like 
deafness. But when night comes down swiftly, without twi- 
lightit breaks into sounds like no other on earth. These, 
to the Halliwells, were the sounds of home. Beloved, serene, 
secure. To preserve them, he made a tape recording some 
years ago. And when away from the river on furlough or 
business trips to far cities, he would close his hotel door to 
the raucous revels of radio and television, uncover his re- 
corder, put the tape on, and contentedly go to sleep to 
Amazon night sounds the deep croak of frogs and the shrill 
chatter of cicadas, the alligator grunts and monkey howls, the 
stealthy sound of animals moving through the brush only 
yards away, the gentle slap of the river against the boat. 

Stimulated by the example of Leo and Jessie Halliwell, 
other missionaries have come to the Amazon and volunteered 

192 Adventurers for God 

for launch duty. Today a fleet of eight carbon copies of the 
Luzeiro are plying the river and its tributaries; during a 
recent year 27,000 major medical cases were treated. Proving 
Leo's thesis that "medical work is the right arm of the Gos- 
pel," there are today along the Amazon 22 Adventist 
churches with some 3000 baptized members and 56 Sabbath 
Schools and 15 elementary schools teaching 1000 young- 
sters. In the vast territory once tilled only by himself and 
Jessie, his church today has 15 ministers, a score of teachers 
and doctors. 

The HalliweUs' long battle against the ravages of malaria 
has also borne fruit. Today, through SESP (Servigo Es- 
pecial de Saude Publica), a mutual aid program of public 
health jointly sponsored by the United States and Brazil, 
a huge malaria control program is under way. An American 
doctor working with SESP told me, "If it hadn't been for 
the Halliwells, it is not likely that this or any other agency 
would have been set up. They proved what could be done." 

Only recently Halliwell saw a long dream come true. 
In 1942, completely on faith and without funds, he opened a 
tiny clinic in Belem and called a Brazilian doctor to run it. 
Now that clinic has metamorphosed into a fully equipped 
40-bed hospital. 

One day in 1956, Leo Halliwell got word that he was 
needed in Rio de Janeiro to supervise the work of all Ad- 
ventist medical launches throughout South America. 
Obliquely Halliwell put the matter to Jessie. Wasn't it get- 
ting crowded on the Amazon, with so many launches and all 
these workers and churches? Besides, now that they were 
along in years, wouldn't the climate be a little easier in some 
place like, say, Rio de Janeiro? 

Medicine Man on the Amazon 193 

Jessie smiled knowingly. "When do we leave, Leo?" 
In July they turned the Luzeiro over to another missionary, 

and headed south. Thus, at 65, when most people are ready 
to retire, the Halliwells were starting all over again. 

"Leo," said a colleague seeing them off, "is still looking 
for latitude!" 

Emory Alvord of Southern Rhodesia 


Tine Gospel of me Jrlo w 

On an April evening in 1919, a husky young teacher 
from Washington State was jolted out o a deep sleep by 
the sound of jungle drums and weird chanting. Only that 
day Emory Alvord, with his bride, had arrived at this remote 
spot in Southern Rhodesia to begin work. He sat bolt up- 
right, listening, then rushed outside. He came upon a sight 
that shook him to his shoestrings. 

Over an acre of stumpy, neglected farmland a milling 
crowd of African men and women, led by whirling witch- 
doctors, were prancing and shrieking appeals to the gods of 
the soil. When they fell exhausted, black arms gathered 
them in, revived them with gourds of potent native beer, 
and what seemed like a wild orgy went on. 

Alvord watched. So this was native agriculture. He had 
been told what to expect. On the long, hazardous journey 
to his station 7000 miles by ship, six days and 1628 miles 
by train into the interior, and 14 days and 174 miles by 
donkey-wagon to Mt. SiHnda Mission old Africa hands 
had warned him that vigor was something the African 
farmer had little of; voodoo was his tool. 

Now, through the eerie firelight and the clouds of dust, 
Emory Alvord thought he saw these people as they really 
were. Lazy? No lazy man would expend such energy. 


"The Gospel of the Plow" 195 

Superstitious? Perhaps, but was not superstition itself a sort 
of faith? Redirect that energy and faith, and . . . 

Striding back to his mission station in the morning's chill 
dawn, he mapped out a program which he dubbed "The 
Gospel of the Plow." He was Africa's first agricultural mis- 

Today, Emory Alvord's faith in the natives ("Bantu") 
of Rhodesia has been spectacularly justified. Under his 
tutelage they have literally changed the face of their country. 
Vast numbers of them enjoy a sense of prosperity and com- 
munity well-being unknown in other regions of the Dark 

The pioneering instinct runs strong in Alvord blood. The 
family settled in Connecticut in 1632. Emory's great-grand- 
father went to Utah in 1847. His grandfather ran mule trains 
through the new West, and was found murdered beside 
his campfire. His father fought in the Philippines and did 
construction work there and in Alaska. 

Emory himself chose farming for a career, worked his 
way through Idaho State Normal and Washington State 
College. At both schools he captained the football squad 

While washing windows in the gymnasium to help pay 
his way through Idaho Normal, he lost his balance and fell 
three stories, smashing his foot so badly that doctors said 
he was through as an athlete. But when football practice 
started, five months later, Alvord reported on crutches. 
Exertions on the gridiron caused excruciating pain for weeks, 
but they restored the crippled foot to partial use, though 
he was left with a limp for four years. Even this had its 
points: the limp gave him what sports writers called a 
"plunging gallop," making him a tough man to tackle. Upon 

196 Adventurers for God 

graduation he received tempting offers to make football his 
career. He chose instead to teach agriculture at Washington 

Then in 1918 he began to look for a frontier for himself. 
Gregarious, he wanted a frontier that was humanitarian. 
He volunteered for life service as an agricultural mission- 
ary. Asked why, he said, "The human race must stand to- 
gether. The strong and qualified must help the weak. It 
is my aim to teach Christianity through the unexcelled me- 
dium of agriculture, full as it is of reverential objects which 
remind us hourly of God and life." 

The missionary idea of saving souls by saving soil was 
comparatively new. He was assigned to Southern Rhodesia, a 
self-governing British colony about the size of California, 
deep in the center of Africa's southern tip. Sometimes said to 
be the ancient site of King Solomon's mines, the land had 
been fought over for centuries by Arabs, Portuguese and 
others. Then, decades ago, the gold-seekers had departed 
and the whole region sank into somnolence until Cecil 
Rhodes and his British South Africa Company grabbed it for 
king and country. 

The mission at Mt. Silinda, begun in the early 1890's 
on 30,000 acres granted by Rhodes, majored in Christian edu- 
cation and handcraft. Agriculture, around which the whole 
of native life revolved, was not stressed. When mission as- 
sociates lamented that making converts was easy but keeping 
them faithful was impossible when they returned to their 
homes, Alvord asked: "What else can you expect? You 
can't build a good society, let alone the Kingdom of God, 
on eroding soil and eroding people!" 

He promptly laid out six demonstration plots. At the first 

"The Gospel of the Plow" 197 

harvest season he invited the Bantu from miles around 
to see the maize plants 12 feet high bearing 12-inch cobs 
quite a contrast with the native plants two or three feet tall, 
with cobs no bigger than a man's thumb. 

Triumphantly, Alvord expounded the merits of proper 
tillage. His bubbling spirits simmered down a bit when he 
asked them if they understood, and they shouted, "Yes, 
yes. You great witch-doctor!" Even the mission pupils who 
had cultivated the plots under his direction were con- 
vinced he had gone out during the night and sprinkled 
magic medicine. 

He knew then that he must persuade the Bantu to put 
his methods to work on their own plots, where all could 
see that there was nothing supernatural. The Alvord formula 
was simple: clear the land properly, water it, fertilize it with 
kraal manure now being wasted, rotate the crops. 

To the pitiable farmers on their pitifully worn-out plots, 
he would say, "What is this land you have? It's a trust 
for your children and your children's children. God has 
loaned it to you to use, not destroy. He sends the rain and 
warmth of the sun. All He expects of you is that you love your 
land, nourish it, co-operate with it. God wants you and your 
families to have the good things of life; He's given you the 
raw materials to make a good life. He wants you to work with 

He moved among the people as a fellow r -worker of the 
soil, eager to help. In casual conversations he painted such 
a beguiling picture that more and more natives volunteered 
their land for his experiments. They found that plots properly 
tilled would yield ten times as much as before. Even the 
worst land blossomed under proper tillage. When in 1922 

198 Adventurers for God 

most Bantu crops failed completely, Alvord's students and 
demonstrators produced good yields. 

The witch-doctors and other bush-league dervishes, sens- 
ing ruinous competition, heckled him at the demonstrations, 
shouting to the people that the gods of the soil would 
visit dire punishment on any African dabbling in the white 
man's sorcery. 

Word of his success with the natives reached government 
officials at Salisbury. They promptly invited him to take a 
job as government agriculturist. In 1926 he accepted, seeing 
a chance to spread his Gospel of the Plow far beyond the 
mission's confines. His appointment was vigorously op- 
posed by some elements who resented a missionary, es- 
pecially an American, in any job of importance in a British 
colony. Many officials too had a dim view of doing anything 
at all for natives, stuffily insisting that a government agricul- 
turist's job was to aid European farmers. He finally got him- 
self transferred to the Department of Native Affairs so 
there would be no question about whom he was hired to 

During his first year as government agriculturist Alvord 
stepped up acreage production sixfold on demonstration 
plots. His huge bulk packed behind the wheel of his small 
British car became a familiar sight everywhere in the native 
reserves. Sometimes he walked for miles through jungle or 
open veldt to inspect demonstration plots too remote to 
reach by car. Natives came to expect this white-thatched man 
on his lonely safari, a bag of improved seed over his shoulder. 
On Sundays he took his place in the choir of their little 
churches, looking like a great white bear among dark cubs. 

The next few years Emory Alvord seemed to be every- 

"The Gospel of the Plow" 199 

where at once organizing courses in missionary and govern- 
ment schools, setting up more and more demonstration plots 
and experimental stations, arranging gala farm shows, in- 
troducing more diversified products, making soil surveys, 
directing the installation of a vast irrigation system, laying 
out model villages. By 1949 a total of 72,849 demonstration 
plots had been set up; on them the average yield was seven 
times what it was on adjacent fields. 

Knowing the Bantu's fondness for personal decoration as 
well as community prestige, Alvord developed an ornate 
enamel badge, richly scrolled with "Master Farmer/* and 
awarded it to those whose plots were consistently superior. 
In some cases, there being no place to pin it, the badge was 
worn on a string around the neck; others improvised head- 
bands to properly display it, while one devised a way to 
dangle it from his left ear. Eventually there were some 
1200 "Master Farmers" throughout Rhodesia. 

By 1950, the art of scientific farming, now a required sub- 
ject in all schools for natives, was being taught to 170,000 
pupils yearly. Almost half of all Bantu farmers were doing 
their work under the guidance of trained government dem- 
onstrators drawn from their own ranks. Eleven million acres 
had been centralized into arable and grazing lands, and the 
best methods of crop rotation, irrigation and soil conserva- 
tion had been applied to hundreds of thousands of acres. 
Seven large breeding stations were steadily improving 
cattle strains. 

To oversee this skyrocketing program of native develop- 
ment, initiated and personally directed by Emory Alvord, 
the government of Southern Rhodesia maintained a staff 
of 70 Europeans and 436 native experts in its Department of 

200 Adventurers for God 

Native Agriculture. In the beginning, Alvord was the whole 
department. His work at first cost the government little; 
he taught the Bantu how to carry the expense of their own 
improvement, instilled in them a pride in doing so. 

A village headman told him one day of the sickness that 
periodically swept the village. Alvord led the headman over 
to one of the "pole and dagga" huts, showed him how such 
construction made for dampness, draftiness, the increase of 
vermin. Then he drew a sketch of a thatched brick house. 
"Wouldn't you like one like that?" he asked. Next day he 
and the headman began work; the house became a show- 
place for miles around. 

Next he started teaching a group of young men in each 
village the art of brickmaking, stonework, roof construction. 
Pupils completing the course were given a Builder's Certifi- 
cate; they in turn became contractors and teachers of others. 
Today more than 58 per cent of Rhodesia's native population 
live in improved houses designed by Alvord and built by 
the natives themselves. Moreover, 1500 schools and churches 
have also been built. 

Alvord introduced corn from Iowa to replace the Kaffir 
variety, and started the natives at raising cotton. Today 
there are some 12,000 native cotton-growers, and produc- 
tion has reached an estimated five million pounds of seed 
cotton for 1950. Government-sponsored and native-operated 
ginning mills produce yam. Thousands of African natives 
are now clothed in cotton goods produced by themselves. 

In 1935, during a severe famine, he was seized with the 
importance of wide-scale irrigation. With no funds, but 
plenty of official resistance, he decided to dramatize irriga- 
tion's worth. At Nyanyadzi, an area particularly hard hit, 

"The Gospel of the Plow' 201 

all able-bodied men were away working for Europeans 
to get money to buy food. Loaded down with picks and 
shovels, Alvord came to Nyanyadzi with a flourish, sur- 
veyed and pegged the canals, persuaded 26 women and 
three old men to help him dig, and eventually reaped an 
average of 48 bushels of grain per acre from land where 
not more than five had ever been harvested before. When 
the husbands returned they found their families fat and 
flourishing and with more food than they could possibly 
buy with the money the men brought back. 

The demonstration impressed the government too. Funds 
became available for more irrigation. Two years later, 
Alvord and a host of willing volunteers together dug his 
biggest canal in the same Nyanyadzi River district 4M miles 
long, 10 feet wide, three feet deep. No gang boss, he seized a 
shovel himself and helped dig, setting a pace for the workers. 

The project consumed six months. At its official opening, 
a feast day for the entire region, thousands of African 
natives went wild with excitement as the headgates lifted 
and the wave of water plunged into the canal. Men, women 
and children, yelling and singing hymns, swarmed in, splash- 
ing the muddy water on each other and lapping it up in then- 
mouths. To Alvord the mothers explained: "Oh, N'kosi- 
muchena (king with the white hair), we want to tell our 
children when we grow old that we and they drank some of 
the first water of life that came to bless our land!" 

All this had to be done over bitter opposition. European 
farmers felt Alvord's interest in Africans was an offense to 
white dignity and a threat to the stability of the status quo. 
He got threatening letters "You ought to be shot/' Corn, 
they protested, was a white man's crop. Cotton-growing 

202 Adventurers for God 

by the natives was upsetting the whole economy. And there 
were government officials who took the same view and were 
obstructionists. Alvord went blithely ahead. 

With improved farming methods and improved homes 
came the need for better tools and better furnishings to go 
with them. Alvord discussed with his Bantu friends the 
special kind of cart they needed, with their help drew a 
design, took to the government officials his idea for a small 
plant. The plant was established, Alvord schooled 18 young 
Bantu in cart-making, and within three years hundreds of 
low-cost substantial carts were rolling across the farms and 
veldts of Rhodesia. 

When resentful white settlers used Alvord's American 
citizenship as an excuse for opposing his program, he ap- 
plied for citizenship in Rhodesia. In 1937 he was awarded 
the King's Coronation Medal, and later was made an Officer 
of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire. 

Upon his retirement in 1950 Alvord sat through the lauda- 
tory speeches, obviously ill at ease. But when a wizened little 
old Bantu chief stood up and said, "Cecil Rhodes founded 
this country but Emory Alvord has founded a people!" 
Alvord wept unashamedly. 

The retirement business over, his first act was to take his 
wife to see Victoria Falls; they had been in Rhodesia 31 
years, yet "just somehow never had found time" to visit 
the famed tourist attraction. That done, they came back to 
America for six monthsand traveled all over the States 
by bus, picking up fresh ideas for transplantation to Rhode- 

Just before he and Mrs. Alvord sailed back to Mt. Silinda 
Mission in 1951, "to serve out the lifetime we originally 

"The Gospel of the Plow* 203 

pledged/' Alvord said: "I believe more firmly than ever in 
the infinite potential in people any people, all people. But 
their improvement must come always from within them- 
selves. I have no faith in handouts of any kind, economic or 
spiritual. Abraham Lincoln once said, 'You cannot help men 
permanently by doing for them what they could and should 
do for themselves/ We need to inscribe that statement 
large across every plan we make these days and we're 
making some big ones for aiding the earth's backward peo- 

Toyohfko Kagawa of Japan 


e Jr OOF 

On a February morning in 1946 a little man in baggy 
trousers and a borrowed frock coat strode brisHy into the 
Imperial palace at Tokyo. His wife had pinned up the coat, 
for it was several sizes too large; but it kept slipping and 
from time to time he had to hitch it up onto his shoulders. 

Emperor Hirohito, struggling to orient himself to his 
suddenly acquired status of humanity, had invited this 
man of the slums to "lecture" him on the finer points of 
democracy, tell him how he, too, might become a man of the 

The lecture, slated for a half hour, lasted three times 
as long. The emperor listened intently. Finally the speaker 
drew out a battered Bible and read: "'Whosoever will be 
great among you . . . shall be servant of all/ A ruler's 
sovereignty, Your Majesty, is in the hearts of his people. 
Only by service to others can a man, or a nation, be god- 

Thus did Hirohito, "Son of Heaven," come face to face 
for the first time with Toyohiko Kagawa, son of a philander- 
ing politician and a concubine. 

The advice given his emperor that day was, in essence, the 
credo Kagawa has been living and preaching for nearly 50 


Leo Halliwell of Brazil at the wheel of his launch of mercy, the Luzeiro 

(Portuguese for "light-bearer"). (Chapter IX) 

A familiar sight on the Amazon's i coo-mile stretch from Belem to Manaus. 
the Halliwells* aquatic clinic brings medicines and the Gospel to tens 
of thousands of river-dwellers who have no other doctor or minister. 

Trevor Huddleston, Anglican priest whose daring fight for the rights of 
Africans in Johannesburg's Negro slums won him government hatred and 
world admiration, making one of his stirring pleas against "apartheid" 
in the Union of South Africa. (Chapter VIII) 

Toyohiko Kagawa, renowned Japanese reformer and product of Christian 
missions, with children of his Matsuzawa Church in Tokyo. (Chapter XI) 

Servant of the Poor 207 

years, during a career as fabulous as that of Francis of 
Assisi, as turbulent as that of St. Paul. 

Japan's most prolific author, founder of the empire's co- 
operative movement, organizer and director of trade unions, 
tireless proponent of farm reform, Kagawa has done a job 
which has affected the face of Japan's social order in many 
ways. More important, he has been chiefly responsible for 
keeping that face from adopting the likeness of Karl Marx. 

As early as 1921 he became a target for the Kremlin's 
attacks, and he has remained so to this day. "Communism's 
only power is to diagnose some of the pathology of dis- 
ordered society/' says Kagawa. "It has no cure. It creates 
only an infantile paralysis of the social order." 

Born out of wedlock, Kagawa was legally adopted by his 
father at the age of five and packed off to the untender care 
of the philanderer's neglected wife and her indignant mother. 
These two embittered women took turns beating the boy. 
Only when he was sent away to school at Tokushima did 
he learn that there was love and tenderness in the world. 
For here he met two American missionary teachers, Dr. 
Harry W. Myers and Dr. Charles A. Logan, 

Observing the youngster's tortured loneliness, they took 
him into their hearts and homes. They taught him to know 
that all men are created by a God of love, and that any 
person devoting himself to serving his fellow men can work 
tremendous changes for good. They put into his hands a 
Book that revealed the character of the Christian God. It 
was while he was memorizing the Sermon on the Mount that 
there was born in Kagawa the passion which became the 
rudder of his life: to lift the downtrodden, love the loveless, 
serve the oppressed. 

208 Adventurers for God 

When Toyohiko's family heard he had been baptized in 
the Christian faith, he was promptly disinherited. With a 
feeling of relief and almost gay abandon, he plunged fu- 
riously into studying for the Christian ministry. He overdid 
it, and in his second year at Tokyo's Presbyterian College 
he was struck down by tuberculosis. 

His friends got up a purse and sent him to the seashore 
for a year. Sure that he was going to die, he devoted himself 
to writing the first draft of a serious novel on assorted 
scraps of paper and the backs of can labels. When he had 
bundled up this decrepit manuscript he gave himself over 
to racking hemorrhages. 

But suddenly he decided that heaven would have to wait. 
With superhuman effort he roused himself and somehow got 
to Tokyo. Later he enrolled, sick as he was, in the Kobe 
Theological Seminary. 

While studying there, Kagawa found that the seminarians 7 
endless concern for technicalities of creed and doctrine palled 
on him. Christian ethics to him meant Christian action. 
Impatiently he would point to the parable of the Good 
Samaritan and demand: "What is there to discuss? Isn*t 
this plain enough?" And off he would go to Kobe's infamous 
Shinkawa slums, whose tragedies were as poignant to him 
as anything on the Jericho road. 

Shinkawa was the last word in slums. Into its filthy alleys 
and verminous shacks were sardined 11,000 persons, a mis- 
erable motley of the poor and unemployed, liberally sprin- 
Med with beggars, gamblers, thieves, pimps, and prostitutes. 
Here was a laboratory for testing the validity of the Sermon 
on the Mount If it would work here, it would work any- 

Servant of the Poor 209 

On Christinas eve, 1909, Kagawa carted Ms few possessions 
from the seminary to Shinkawa's only vacancy, a six-by-six- 
foot hut which was available only because it was reputedly 
haunted. Here he was to live and work for 15 years. Here 
he was to dream his dreams and bring them to life, here de- 
velop the ideas and ideals which made him world famous^ 
here write most of his more than 100 books. 

His neighbors were chary at first. Then, as it became plain 
that he wanted nothing but a chance to serve them, they 
moved in with him the sick, the poverty-stricken, the de- 
ranged. When his "guests" ate up Ms monthly seminary 
scholarship of $5.50, he became a chimney sweep and pro- 
vided another $5 a month. When that was gone he watered 
down Ms rice gruel to make it go around. 

To occasional visitors he would proudly display Ms parish, 
calling it "ray little kingdom of the slums/' When they 
called him a fool, he amended it to "Christ's fool" and 
gloried in the appellation. 

Beggars of the baser sort caught on quickly to the poten- 
tials of such a Christian in their midst. One asked for 
Kagawa's shirt, and when he got it demanded also Ms coat 
and pants quoting Scripture to back his expectations. Ka- 
gawa gave them all. Whereupon a reformed prostitute came 
to Ms aid with a woman's kimono, wMch he wore about the 
streets for days, its flaming red lining arousing raucous mer- 

Gamblers and ruffians demanded money of him, and when 
he had no more to give they assaulted Mm with stones 
and daggers, broke the windows of Ms hut. One knocked 
out four of Ms front teeth. 

Kagawa never struck back. He eschewed violence, for 

210 Adventurers for God 

whatever cause. Besides, beneath their filth and roughness 
he saw these miserable ones not as degenerates but as 
human souls who would respond to Christian love if given 
a chance. 

In time they did, flocking to him with their problems, 
bringing their children to his Sunday school held in a va- 
cant lot, fighting off his attackers, contributing their mites 
so that he could help others. 

One day a publisher, visiting Shinkawa in search of copy, 
called during Kagawa's absence. Poking around the hut he 
found the bundle of scrap paper on which Kagawa had writ- 
ten his novel while waiting to die. When Kagawa returned 
he found a check for advance royalties. "Across the Death 
Line" first run as a magazine serial and later issued in book 
form, was an instantaneous best seller; some 250,000 copies 
were sold in an incredibly short time. 

With his first royalties Kagawa added a room to his 
hut to serve as dispensary and hospital. To this day he uses 
his income now some $50,000 a year to further his Chris- 
tian projects, keeping only enough for frugal living. 

Amazed that people would buy his writings, Kagawa now 
drove himself relentlessly. Here was a way to tell the world 
about the slums and fight for the correction of their evils! 
But he had no place to work. So, waiting until his "guests" 
were asleep, he would sit on the floor among them and write 
till dawn. 

Soon book after book had thrust him and his flaming ideas 
into the Japanese consciousness. When in 1924 his govern- 
ment moved to wipe out the slums in Japan's six largest 
cities, his writings were given the main credit. 

The evolution of Kagawa from simple servant of the poor 

Servant of the Poor 211 

into social reformer began in 1914 when his friends staked 
him to two years of study at Princeton Theological Seminary. 
Convinced that poverty made shims, and that the inequities 
dealt the laborer made poverty, he entered the labor move- 

It was a critical time. Japan's switch from feudalism to 
the machine age had begun. But the shiny new machines 
were installed in miserable sweatshops without light or air, 
and the laborers worked long hours at pittance pay. Sporadic 
efforts had been made to organize labor, but any union was 
illegal and all agitators were promptly jailed. 

Kagawa began writing on the evils of worker exploita- 
tion and openly proclaimed, "Laborers are personalities, 
not goods to be bought and sold. They must be given the 
right to organize." 

It was for this right, not for increased wages and shorter 
hours, that in 1921 Kobe's thousands of dockyard workers 
went on strike. Kagawa had opposed the strike, pleading 
for peaceful negotiation. But when they surged up his 
alley crying, "Lead us, Kagawa!" he accepted the challenge, 
organized them into Japan's first full-fledged labor union. 

The police seized him, tearing his clothes and beating 
him with a saber, and dragged him off to jail. It was only 
after his release, 13 days later, that he learned how effectively 
the assiduous Communists had spread word among the 
strikers that his insistence on nonviolence stamped him as an 
idealistic foolor the employers' tool. The only way to break 
down a capitalist was to break up his machines. Secret plans 
had been laid for a march of destruction on the shipyards. 

The next day some 35,000 men, armed with bricks and 
crowbars, came surging down the road toward the largest 

212 Adventurers for God 

yard. There were no guards to stop them and only one ob- 
stacle. Standing on a narrow bridge over which they had to 
pass was a solitary figure, blocking their way. The mob 
flowed up to the bridge, came to an abashed halt. The fig- 
ure did not speak; he simply stood there, praying silently. 
It was Kagawa. The men, ashamed, turned and went away. 

In 1925, largely because of his influence, the law forbid- 
ding unions was repealed. 

Meanwhile the sad condition of Japanese farmers was 
making fertile soil for Communists. Kagawa proceeded to 
write the "farm problem" into his novels, lectured about it 
up and down the land. 

When in 1921 a deputation of farmers came to his hut to 
invite his counsel, he formed them at once into the nucleus 
of an agrarian reform movement. In a matter of days he had 
started a new magazine, The Soil and Freedom. And in a 
few months he had sparked an All- Japan Peasants' confer- 
ence, at which was launched the Japan Peasants' union. 

Central in this peasant awakening was Kagawa's fathering 
of producers' co-operatives. The movement spread like a 
brush fire, the flight from the land was arrested, and rural 
living took on new dignity as well as some prosperity. BY 
1935 virtually all of Japan's 5,500,000 farmers were mem- 
bers of co-ops, which included not only wholesaler and con- 
sumer groups but those providing medical services, credit, 
rural housing, crop insurance. 

The long war he waged against the militarists probably 
brought him into more oflicial disfavor than his social re- 
forms. In 1928 he boldly founded the National Anti-War 
League of Japan, declaring flatly against the burgeoning 
schemes of the war lords, and organizing an educational 

Servant of the Poor 213 

campaign in behalf of peace. This league at one time num- 
bered tens of thousands of members. But when the military 
clique launched the "China incident/' many supporters 
fell by the wayside. 

Not Kagawa. He flew to China and there, in the ruins of 
a Shanghai church, tearfully apologized for the wrongs his 
countrymen had done and pleaded for Chinese forgiveness 
for himself and his nation. For this the militarists clapped 
him into prison when he returned. 

As the threat of war with America increased, Kagawa 
frantically stepped up his peace efforts and was in and 
out of jail repeatedly. The news from Pearl Harbor broke 
his heart, and the years 1941-45 were the bleakest and most 
tragic of his life. 

His great network of co-ops,, with their millions of mem- 
bers, were nationalized and regimented; his labor unions 
were abolished; his rural rehabilitation projects were jet- 
tisoned. Many of the institutions he had founded settle- 
ments, orphanages, Christian service centers, chapels were 
destroyed in bombing raids. The militarists persuaded him, 
"in humanity's name/' to broadcast protests against Ameri- 
can obliteration bombing. They made recordings of his 
broadcasts, adroitly tacked on inflammatory propaganda, 
and beamed them to America, which he had visited often 
and where he had many admirers. 

Following his doctored broadcasts he was attacked in 
the Western press as a warmonger. Most of the jibes were 
inspired by a searing attack made on Mm in the Pacific 
edition of Stars and Stripes. Based on an interview shortly 
after the war, the story carried the headline: ""Under Chris- 
tian Guise This Jap Fostered War!" 

214 Adventurers for God 

Widely quoted in America, the broadside shook church- 
men's faith in Kagawa, Its echoes are still being heard. 
The attack falls into better perspective when one learns 
that both the columnist who wrote the story and his manag- 
ing editor were removed from their posts a few weeks later 
on the ground that they were close followers of the Commu- 
nist line. 

The end of the war found Kagawa, like Japan itself, ex- 
hausted and stunned. But he gave himself immediately to 
rallying the scattered Japanese Christian community, to 
overseeing relief projects, establishing refugee camps and 
orphanages, to helping write the chauvinism out of school 
texts. And he went up and down the land on incessant 
tours of evangelism, feeling that never in history had there 
been such a chance to Christianize Japan. 

Today, almost blind from trachoma (contracted during 
his work in the Kobe slums) and never wholly free from 
pain, Kagawa is nevertheless overflowing with energy and 
ideas. His books are again best sellers. His co-ops are 
stronger and more active than ever before. He directs three 
factories turning out products for his co-ops, and has estab- 
lished dozens of schools for workers. He sees in such factories 
much of Japan's economic hope for the future, and is every- 
where promoting small-scale manufacture, winter industry 
for rural people, decentralization of urban industry. 

Thus this diminutive giant is still preaching to millions 
his gospel of love and brotherhood and co-operation. To 
men and nations he offers his formula for rich and worthy 
living. Rule One is: "Give yourself, freely and without re- 
serve, to the service of others." 

He has no Rule Two. 

Gus Borgeest of Hong Kong 


f ? IR JL 

einices JDest 

The history of mankind relects no principle more 
strongly than this: The most potent force on earth for world 
betterment is still one-man power. Just trace back to its 
source any monumental good in life and see how often you 
come to one person who, confronting some need, had the 
gumption and imagination to do something about Iton 
his own, and without any backing save the shove of his 
own compassion. And one of the most striking examples 
of this I know is a man named Gus Borgeest of Sunshine 
Island, near Hong Kong. 

I first heard of the incredible Gus while prowling recently 
through the refugee-ridden city of Hong Kong. "A queer 
duck, Gus/' said one of my informants. "Worries about peo- 
ple." In Hong Kong 670,000 refugees are jammed Into 
tiny, disease-breeding cubicles, or sleep in the streets, or 
huddle hopelessly in tar paper shacks firetraps without 
water, sewers or light. More than 300,000 can find no work, 
are dependent upon emergency relief supplied by over- 
burdened government and private welfare agencies. 

When I asked: Is nobody trying to find more permanent 
solutions? I began to hear one answer; "Well, there's Gus 
Borgeest/' It was plain that he was something of a legend. 
Faced with staggering human misery, he refused to wail 


216 Adventurers for God 

limply, "What can one man do?" He went out and did it. 
Singlehanded and with his own slender funds, he set the 
pattern for a government-sponsored rural resettlement 
scheme that has brought rehabilitation to many refugee 
families and promises hope for many more. 

I went in search of the man behind the legend. A choppy 
ride aboard a leaky sampan brought me to Sunshine Island, 
seven miles west of Hong Kong. Gus was standing on the 
beach, barefooted and sun-bronzed, and looking like a mod- 
ern Crusoe in shorts and a floppy white hat. 

"Welcome to the Isle of Hope'!" he shouted. 

It seemed to be just that In striking contrast to Hong 
Kong's squatter areas, the island was a humming, happy bee- 
hive of activity. Whole families were at work in gardens, 
harvesting cabbages, spinach, eggplant, sweet potatoes. 
Others were shaping terraces up the rocky hillsides, putting 
out fruit trees; still others were herding goats or tending 
flocks of ducks. 

At that time 23 families, comprising 110 persons, were 
on the island. In a few weeks they would be ready for re- 
settlement on farms of their own on the mainland, and 
newcomers would arrive from the squatter camps to learn 
how to turn "marginal" land into productive acres. All had 
been drawn from the worst of the squatter camps, or had 
sailed their sampans out of Red China via Macau. While 
I was there, a small boat bearing a man and wife, four 
children and grandmother and all their possessions arrived 
after a hazardous escape from the Communists; they were 
warmly welcomed and assigned garden plots. 

A barefoot ball of fire, Gus Borgeest bounded through 
the hills and valleys of his domain, shedding vitality with 

Chinese Refugees 9 Best Friend 217 

every step. Tagging Mm breathlessly, I thought how aptly 
he had been described in Hong Kong: 4< a Simon Legree 
whose whip is a vision of hope." 

Gus Borgeest has known and loved the Chinese all his 
life, hates fiercely the inhuman forces that have swept them 
into chains. Born in Shanghai, he is the son of a British- 
subject adventurer whose scrambled ancestry goes back to 
the Italian noble family, Borghese. For 20 years, until the 
Japanese took Shanghai in 1943, Gus worked as a produc- 
tion expediter in a British textile factory. During his two- 
year internment that followed, a book by Rufus Jones fell 
into his hands. The great American Quaker's urgings toward 
love and brotherhood fired Gus with what Quakers call a 
"concern" of his own for the poor and oppressed. Released 
in 1945, he joined the Society of Friends, took as his motto 
"My neighbor is my business!" 

Gus and his wife Mona were helping impoverished Chi- 
nese families set up cottage industries when the Commu- 
nists moved in and expelled him. Arriving in Hong Kong 
in 1951 with two Hong Kong dollars ( about 34 cents ) , Gus 
found work with the government's Vegetable Marketing 
Organization and Social Welfare Office. This gave him a 
closeup of the refugees' plight. Many, he learned, were 
farmers who had abandoned land their families had farmed 
for centuries, in deep revulsion against Mao Tse-tung's "agrar- 
ian reforms." Centuries of misgovemment, even the Japan- 
ese invasion, had not been enough to make them quit their 
homes on lands their ancestors had fanned. Yet here they 
were in the thousands. 

He and Mona spent their spare time roving through the 
squatters* camps, talking to the refugees. "What haunted 

218 Adventurers for God 

me most/' Gus says, "was what the years of dependence upon 
charity was doing to their self-respect. Welfare, with the 
best of intentions, was subtly enslaving them, as handouts 
always do." He began to preach the self-help route to re- 
habilitation. "It's never been beaten," he says, "either as 
an economic measure or as a restorer of human dignity." 

Only land to farm would make these refugees contented 
members of society. But where was land? Colony officials, 
long inured to frustration, viewed Gus's concern sympa- 
thetically but without hope. But one who listened with hope- 
ful curiosity was K. M. A. Barnett, District Commissioner 
for the New Territories, a hilly area on the Chinese main- 
land which was leased from China under an 1898 treaty. 
But, as Barnett pointed out, most of it comprised rocky 
hillsides or abandoned acres. And these were already sup- 
porting 300,000 people. The remaining 305 square miles 
not taken by farms and by the cities of Hong Kong and Kow- 
loon were nothing but rocky hillsides, barren islands or 
abandoned acres in the New Territories. "Marginal land, 
we call it," said Barnett. "But I'm afraid it is over the mar- 

Gus asked, "If I can find a spot to demonstrate that refu- 
gees can be trained to make marginal land productive, will 
the government provide land to resettle them?" 

Barnett smiled. "Of course, Mr. Borgeest But what back- 
ground do you have to teach farming?" 

Gus grinned. "Twenty years in a textile factory!" 

A few days later, returning from a mercy visit to a nearby 
island leper colony, Gus and Mona passed a small abandoned 
atoll which showed signs of having once been farmed. He 
beached his sampan, paced its 160 acres. The sor was poor, 

Chinese Refugees' Best Friend 219 

but active springs betokened an adequate water supply. Ex- 
citedly he called to his wife, "Mona, this is it!" 

While negotiating for the island, Gus pored over books 
on marginal-land farming, plagued experts in the Agricul- 
ture Department, took counsel from everybody except those 
who advised him to forget his dream. Finally, in May 1953, 
government officials agreed to let him have the island for an 
annual rental of HK$ 148. "We hate to take your money, 
Gus/' they said. "Nobody can grow anything but failure on 
that barren land." 

Less than a week later Borgeest packed his wife, their five- 
year-old daughter Naomi and two refugee farmers aboard 
a rented sampan and headed for Sunshine Island. The pas- 
sengers were wedged in between equipmenttents, cots, a 
few tools, food for a week which had eaten severely into 
the $700 he had saved during two frugal years as a govern- 
ment employe. The first night on the island, four inches of 
rain fell, but the next morning Gus and the two men set out 
for the fields. 

When a fisherman and his family, escapees from Commu- 
nist China, put into the island and asked for asylum, Gus's 
transport problem was simplified. Soon he took to shuttling 
back and forth between the island and Hong Kong, add- 
ing a few goats, chickens, geese and rabbits with each 

All able-bodied adults put in eight hours in the fields or 
helping construct housing. Evening discussions dealt with 
farm techniques, sanitation and health, chic responsibility. 
Each family was given a thatched hut, beds, soap, three 
meals a day plus HK$ 50 a month. The wage did wonders 
for the spirit of people who had not earned a dollar in 

220 Adventurers for God 

years. And hope and hard work in the sun did wonders 
for their health. 

Before accepting any family, Gus made it plain that Sun- 
shine Island was no haven for the lazy. Two virtues were 
needed: "yearning for a farm of your own, and a willingness 
to work hard." He carefully selected only those who could 
adapt themselves to the toil and exposure. 

The early months were not easy. A typhoon roared across 
the island, ripping off roofs, blowing away the community 
kitchen, destroying goat houses and rabbit hutches. Gus 
viewed the setback as a disguised blessing. "It brought 
much needed rain for our gardens," he proclaimed, "and a 
forceful warning that we must rebuild more adequately." 

He promptly laid out plans for stone instead of thatched 
houses. Only after all his families were settled in sturdy new 
homes did he and Mona construct their own rough stone 
cottage, grandly naming it "Villa Borghese." 

Gus's savings were soon gone. 

"Faith was the only operating capital we had," he says. 
He set the women to cutting bundles of dry grass, to sell in 
Hong Kong for fuel. He sold rabbits and poultry. After two 
months his garden plots were producing enough vegetables 
for the island. In four months he was saying, "Now I know 
it can be done!" 

As word of his valiant fight spread, individuals contributed 
funds and supplies, offered him interest-free loans until the 
island could be made self-supporting. The loans he paid 
back meticulously, and to all contributors he rendered a 
minutely detailed statement of income and expenditures. 

Tin finding," he said, "that if you obligate yourself for 
God's children, God will somehow provide." That did not 

Chinese Refugees" Best Friend 221 

mean idly waiting for miracles. "We can't expect manna 
from heaven every 20 minutes; God expects us to do our part 

When he ran out of money he ran out to tell more people 
about Sunshine Island. Intrigued by his optimism, chic 
clubs, social workers, newsmen and others began coming to 
Sunshine Island, Proudly Gus displayed the gardens and 
herds, the busy people in the fields. Students from Chinese 
refugee colleges formed work camps, came to the island to 
dig fish ponds, irrigation ditches and water reservoirs. 
A contingent of Royal Air Force men gave long week-ends 
to helping out. 

When social agencies showed interest, Gus told them: 
"Why not apply some of your relief funds to sponsoring a 
family for training here? 7 * And so the "family sponsorship" 
plan got under way. The cost: $27 a month, including the 
wage paid. Soon individuals, churches and welfare agencies 
were offering to sponsor families. 

First to respond to his "family sponsorship 7 ' plan was 
Colonel Fred Waller of the Salvation Army, who sent two 
families (both are now successfully farming their own acres 
in the New Territories). Others were sponsored by individu- 
als, one by the Hong Kong welfare society. Most were suc- 
cesses in rehabilitation. 

But not all. Despite the most careful screening, Gus drew 
some duds. Some families, with the best of intentions, could 
not adapt themselves to his tough regimen. These he sent 
packing. Others had been too long at the public feeding- 
trough to resurrect their ambition. "It's a pity/* he told 
Mona, **but we can't help people like that." 

Kindly and helpful to the industrious, he was trigger- 

222 Adventurers for God 

tempered with any wlio slacked, often had to tell himself 
"not to be so caustic but to pipe down and be more diplo- 

To compound his difficulties, the government dragged its 
feet in finding land suitable for resettling the trainees. After 
more than a year on the island, four of his more promising 
families became impatient and left in a body. 

Not so discouraging were the number who stayed on the 
island long enough to build up their health and self-reliance, 
then left to carve out their own future. One, Teng Foo Sang, 
acquired enough know-how to take a job as supervisor of 
a large farm owned by a relative. Others were snapped 
up by agricultural interests. A fisher family who had fled 
Red China, its faith in free enterprise restored, earned 
enough to buy a new boat and joined Hong Kong's big 
fishing fleet at Aberdeen. 

One of Borgeest's side projects, not strictly related to 
prospective farmers, was his rehabilitation of drug addicts, 
attempted suicides, post-tuberculosis cases, cured lepers in 
need of reorientation before facing again the society that had 
banned them. 

Visiting a Hong Kong hospital one day, Gus was shown 
a little tailor. Fleeing Communist China, the man had lost 
his family and possessions and, finding no work in Hong 
Kong, had tried to poison himself. When the hospital al- 
moner said, "I hate to release this poor fellow; he'll only 
try again to kill himself," Gus replied, "Let me take him." 
He put the man to work weeding the gardens, doing odd 
jobs, gradually pumped new hope into his mind. After six 
months, the tailor was set up in his own shop in a village 
in the New Territories, happy and prospering. Says Gus; 

Chinese Refugees' Best Friend 223 

"Contact with friendliness., good food and the good earth 
turned the trick.'* 

Another would-be suicide, a formerly prosperous sugar 
merchant from Shanghai who had lost his family to the 
Communists, also received the successful Borgeest treat- 
ment; he was soon completely rehabilitated, 

Drug addicts were tougher to rehabilitate. With dope 
plentiful in Hong Kong, many disheartened refugees turned 
to it for release from their misery. Gus's prescription for 
those who wished to conquer the habit; "Hard work, sweat 
and sleep in that order." 

Those who took his cure found it worked. For example, 
there was the stevedore who had lost both his job and his 
family because of opium-smoking. Desperate, he paddled 
seven miles to the island, told Borgeest, "I must master this 
thing!" Gus assigned him to the heaviest work he had, dig- 
ging irrigation ditches from early morning till dark. The man 
stayed three months, gradually sweated the poison from his 
system. He became a skilled farmer, producing more and 
better products than any other, and now is happily settled, 
with his family, on a farm of his own. 

Another case was an elderly lady, 20 years an addict. Her 
daughter, a student nurse in a Kowloon hospital, said, "She 
shames me," begged Gus to accept her on the island. Bluntly 
Gus told the mother, "You must promise to stay here for six 
months and work hard ever) 7 waking minute." 

The old lady snapped, 'This is jail! I go back." 

Gus shrugged, "As you like, madam. We have no police; 
nobody will stop you. But if you go, I've told your daughter 
to have no more to do with you." 

The old lady mulled it over, finally said, "All right. I 

224 Adventurers for God 

stay." She did for over a year; conquered her habit, even- 
tually paid her own board and lodging. At her daughter's 
graduation, they clasped each other, said in the same breath, 
"I'm so proud of you!" 

Gus's remarkable success with such cases could have 
changed the whole character of his work, if he had let it. 
Special welfare agencies, swamped with maladjusted per- 
sons, continually besought him for help. His reply: *Tm glad 
to take them when we have room. But I must stick to my 
original purpose resettling refugees. I've got a point to 

By September 1954, after an almost superhuman struggle 
to keep his project alive, Gus received word that his success 
had been closely observed in Hong Kong. Private and public 
agencies had devised a sweeping refugee program based on 
three points: (1) financing, (2) training of refugees, (3) 
permanent resettlement. Sunshine Island, which had showed 
the way, was to be the prime implementer of the second 

Church World Service, backed by funds from Americans, 
was first to act, placing 11 sponsored families on the island 
for six months' training. The United Church of Canada 
sent $1000. 

With every private gift or unexpected bonanza he brought 
in another family or introduced a new planting project. 
When a cynical friend groused that "y ou>re wasting your 
time trying to help those down-and-out refugees," Gus took 
him to the island, showed him what was going on and 
the doubter left behind him enough money to put in a 
grove of 1000 papaya trees. 

Meanwhile the government speeded its survey of land 

Chinese Refugees' Best Friend 225 

available for resettlement. To his friends and sponsors, Gus 
sent out a lilting bulletin: "What we have been struggling 
toward for so long is about to come to fruition . . ." On 
Sunshine Island new housing and gardens, orchards, water 
systems and fish ponds sprang into being. With his refugees 
now wresting rich harvests from the unpromising soil, the 
"island earnings" item in his reports showed a sharp up- 
turn. When sponsors objected that nothing was charged out 
for "administration," Gus voted the Borgeests a salary of 
$33 a month and promptly put it back into the island kitty 
under "anonymous donation/' 

To be sure his trainees would have a place to go, he 
constantly needled Colony officials to complete their survey 
of resettlement acreage, spent days traipsing through the 
New Territories, conferring with village elders in likely sites. 

By the end of February 1956 the first group of sponsored 
trainees, with other families he had nourished on his own, 
were ready for resettlement on government-selected land in 
the New Territories a plateau called Cheung Sheung. Two 
acres were set aside for each family, and each was supplied 
with a cow, farm and domestic equipment, seed and fer- 
tilizer and a small cash allowance. 

Like a tough but solicitous top sergeant curious to know 
his squad's battlefitness after rugged basic training, Gus 
accompanied the families to Cheung Sheung, helped them 
get settled, went back weekly to check their progress. 

Even he could not expect more. In a few weeks they had 
their acres cleared and tilled, orchards planted, permanent 
stone houses built, and were eating their fill from food 
their own hands had coaxed from the rocky soil. 

Moreover, the newcomers revived hope in the area's old 

226 Adventurers for God 

settlers. Eager to keep up with the new Joneses, many of 
these fell upon their fields with renewed zeal. One who had 
been on the verge of heeding Communist pressure to move 
to Red China, said, "My new neighbors' example made me 
lose face. The fault was not in the land but in me." Today 
he is Cheung Sheung's ablest exponent of "capitalistic farm- 

Under Gus's direction the settlers created their own village 
organization to represent them before the government. Their 
first victory: winning the promise that their acres, for which 
they paid a rental of HK$ 8 a year, would become theirs 
forever after 10 years of successful occupancy. 

In May, 1956, Hong Kong's governor, Sir Alexander 
Grantham, visited Cheung Sheung and was amazed at what 
he saw. He and his staff plied Gus with questions, began to 
wonder if marginal-land farming might not be the most 
encouraging answer to the refugee problem. They estimated 
that Hong Kong Colony, for aU its limited space, could in 
time resettle at least 1000 families. 

District Commissioner Barnett told me, "There is a Chi- 
nese fable about an old man who had to cross a hill every 
day. Each day he took a stone in each hand from the top of 
the hill to the bottom. Asked why, he said, Tm moving 
this hill. Not in my lifetime, perhaps not in my son's, but 
in time, by doing what we can, this hill will be gone/ That's 
the lesson Gus Borgeest has taken to heart. 

"Our problem, as Gus sees it, is a problem of human be- 
ings and of the earth. Neither submits easily to master plans, 
but both respond to love and tender care. Hasn't Gus proved 
that his approach succeeds where more ambitious schemes 
may fail?" 

Chinese Refugees' Best Friend 227 

One of the new settlers gravely told the governor: "Sir, 
owning one's own land, managing one's own affairs, does 
something to a man. Such cannot be achieved, or even under- 
stood, by those who are content to let the government fill 
their rice bowls for them." 

One of the many Americans who have visited Sunshine 
Island is Prof. Theodore Herman of Colgate University. He 
reports: "Sunshine Island is such a small drop in a vast sea 
of despair that it may seem to have no measurable impact 
on the refugee problem. But I keep remembering that every 
vision and act that has caught the allegiance of others began 
with one personnot with a committee, a society, or a con- 
gregation. Sunshine Island by itself may never solve the re- 
fugee problem anywhere, but if Gus can keep going finan- 
cially and physically, his demonstration of faith in that part 
of God within every man might convince more humans to do 
likewise or even to help solve human problems before they 
cause more refugees. 

"Gus Borgeest does not differ from most of us in believing 
that God calls us to a life of loving service. He does differ 
from most of us in having acted on that belief." 

Five Missionary Martyrs in Ecuador 


(jrafes 01 Splendor 

On January 9, 1956, teletypes in newsrooms all over the 
world began clacking out the first fragmentary accounts of 
one of the most daring Christian missionary exploits of mod- 
ern times. 

Reported missing were five young American missionaries 
who, deep in Ecuador's tangled jungles, had been carrying 
out a secret and ingeniously planned campaign to make 
friendly contact with one of the most savage Stone Age tribes 
left on earth the Auca Indians. Three days before, they had 
made that contact, the first white men ever to do so. They 
had radioed their base, "This is a great day for the advance 
of the gospel in Ecuador!" 

A few days later, when rescue parties finally reached the 
camp the missionaries had set up on a Curaray River beach 
in the heart of Auca territory, the five bodies were found- 
pierced by spears and strewn like driftwood amid the river's 
debris. On their bodies and scattered over the shambled 
beach were water-soaked diaries detailing their adventure. 

The story, occupying front pages for days, quickly took 
on the flavor of an epic. It was an inspiring reminder that 
the peculiar power and God-given courage which historically 
have spread Christianity to earth's every remote corner are 
still very much alive. And still triumphant. 


Through Gates of Splendor 229 

"Operation Auca," as the five had dubbed it, began on 
a brilliantly clear day back in September 1955, when the 
pilot of a Protestant missionary air group serving a string of 
jungle mission stations in Ecuador took off on an emergency 
call. The missionary at Arajuno had radioed that he had a 
sick Quechua Indian boy and needed an injection syringe- 

As he swung his tiny plane away from his base at Shell 
Mera, 100 miles south of Quito in the Andes foothills, Nate 
Saint noted with satisfaction the unusual clearness of the sky. 
Visibility, normally much limited by haze, was at least 75 
miles an ideal day to go exploring. 

Thirty minutes of flying brought him to the pencil-thin 
slash in the jungle that was the Arajuno station. Strapping 
young Ed McCully, in charge there, was waiting for Mm. 
A football and track star back at Wheaton College in Illinois, 
McCully had been president of his senior class, and was 
studying law at Marquette when he felt called to missionary 

Ed grinned. "Sorry, Nate," he said. "Looks like I brought 
you out here for nothing. Emergency's past." 

Nate shrugged; it was all in the day's work. But when the 
routine supplies and mail were unloaded, he pulled McCully 
aside from the Quechuas mining about the plane. 

"Say, Ed," he whispered, "how about going to look for 
'the neighbors'?" McCull/s brow went up. "Right!" he said 

"The neighbors" were the Aucas, a tribe so vicious that 
even the head-hunting Jivaros feared to enter their territory. 
Exactly where and how they lived, nobody knew for sure. 
Books and articles mentioning them were a confusion of 

230 Adventurers for God 

contradictions. Well known, however, was the fact that they 
hated all strangers, that they went through the jungle like 
vengeful wraiths, flinging their needle-sharp hardwood spears 
with deadly accuracy, spreading terror among other tribes. 
Masters of ambush, they had a long and bloody record of 

The government left the Aucas severely alone; attempts to 
reach them had cost too many lives. Only missionaries felt 
any urge to get near them. But among the missionaries the 
desire to win the Aucas had for years been a passionate pre- 
occupation. To Christian pioneers who took seriously the 
command "Go ye ... to every creature," the Aucas' very 
unreachability, as well as their "lostness" without Christian 
light, was a continuing challenge. 

Neither Nate Saint nor Ed McCully had any idea how the 
tribe could be reached. On hundreds of flights to the mission 
stations he served Nate had searched in vain for some sign 
of Auca habitation. But now, on a crystal-clear day like 
this . . . 

Nate and Ed leapt into the Piper and took off. They headed 
east for 50 miles, then north toward the Napo, one of the 
Amazon's headwaters. Faces pressed against the plexiglass, 
they peered down into the endless stretches of jungle, 
eagerly alert. 

Suddenly, just as their gas was getting low, Nate caught 
sight of a blemish in the jungle pattern. The blemish grew 
into a well-defined pockmark, then into a good-sized clear- 
ing. He nudged McCully, jabbed a forefinger downward. 
Circling, they counted 15 small clearings and as many houses. 
It was the first Auca settlement they had ever seen, and it 
left them breathless with elation. 

Through Gates of Splendor 231 

A few days later they confided their find to two other 
young missionaries: Jim Elliot, whose station was at Shandia, 
and Pete Fleming at Puyu Pungu. Both had shared the "Auca 
dream" with Saint and McCully. 

On September 29 Nate made four other exploratory flights, 
hoping to find a settlement nearer Arajuno. On one he took 
along two Quechua Indian guides, not telling them the 
purpose of the flight. Suddenly while zigzagging through a 
jungle valley he spotted some clearings, drifted down for a 
closer look. The Indians immediately cried, "Aucas!" Terror 
tinged their voices. 

To himself Nate said exultantly, "This is it!" 

By October 1 he had made enough trips over the region to 
mark the spot as unquestionably a sizable Auca settlement 
and only 15 minutes by air from Arajuno. That night the 
young missionaries got together at Shell Mera and sprawled 
on the living-room floor with a big map spread out before 
them. They had decided that "the Lord's time" had come to 
do something more than talk and dream about contacting 
the Aucas. 

The excited planning went on most of the night and pro- 
duced some firm decisions. The first was: strict secrecy. They 
would finance the project from their own pockets, not draw 
on mission funds. Only members of the team and wives were 
to be in the know. Their reasons were sound: if word of 
the operation got abroad, droves of explorers and adven- 
turers, newsmen and photographers might try to get into the 
act. Then at the first sign of Auca hostility someone would 
start shooting "and set back the missionary effort among 
these people for decades." 

There had been tragic precedents which made the mis- 

232 Adventurers for God 

sionaries wary of joining forces with men who had no love 
or special regard for the Aucas. Five years before, an expe- 
dition led by a Swedish explorer and a Columbia scientist- 
accompanied by newspaper fanfare and employing a mission- 
ary guide had come to grief. As the party approached on 
their balsa rafts, it was ambushed at a narrow bend in the 
river. At first sight of the Aucas, a Quechua porter had 
opened fire. Several in the party had been wounded when 
the Aucas routed it with flying spears. 

To further insure secrecy the five young missionaries de- 
vised code terms, for use when others were around or when 
communicating over the missions' short-wave radios. The 
Aucas were to be called "the neighbors/' their region <c the 
neighborhood." The Auca settlement was to be "Terminal 
City"; the beach where the missionaries would land and set 
up the contact camp, "Palm Beach." Moreover, each man 
would carry on his regular mission work up to the last min- 
ute to avoid arousing curiosity among the Indians and other 

To soften up Auca hostility, they would start with a long, 
cautious campaign of air-borne friendliness. Regular weekly 
flights would be made over the Auca village, low enough 
to drop gifts and shout friendly greetings but high enough 
to outrange Auca spears. For that, the small Piper Family 
Cruiser would be ideal. 

"The Shell Company people once tried dropping gifts,'* 
Nate commented. "But the Aucas, apparently scared by the 
2000-horsepower transport roaring over at low level, threw 
lances at the plane. Captive Aucas later explained that they 
thought the gifts fell from the plane's stomach as a result of 
being wounded by the lances." 

Through Gates of Splendor 233 

For bestowing their gifts Nate Had developed a tricky 
technique. He called it "the spiraling-Hne method/' After 
long search for some simple way of making a sustained air- 
ground contact, he discovered it one day in 1500 feet of 
fishing line and a small canvas bucket. Experimentally pay- 
ing out the line while circling at 1000 feet, he found to his 
amazement that he could make the bucket hang vertically 
and almost motionless. Then, by gradually spiraling lower, 
he could set it down with reasonable accuracy. He had 
already used this method for lowering medicines and mail 
to jungle clearings, and for picking up messages from mis- 
sionaries on the trail. 

Once he had astounded a missionary in a remote jungle 
village by lowering a field telephone in the canvas bucket. 
The village was being swept by a highly contagious disease, 
and when the incredulous missionary picked up the tele- 
phone Nate asked for details of the situation. Then, using 
his plane radio, he called a mission hospital 150 miles away, 
asked for diagnosis and instructions, and lowered the pre- 
scribed medicines then and there. The whole operation took 
a matter of minutes and the epidemic was stopped. 

This simple 'life line from the skies" had proved a great 
boon to mission outposts. Now it seemed to be "God's an- 
swer" for Operation Auca. 

But how about communication with the Aucas? So far as 
was known, there was only one member of the tribe available 
who remembered the language a girl named Dayuma, who 
years before had fled from the tribe after seeing her father, 
brother and baby sister hacked to death in an intertribal 
row. The girl knew the Quechua tongue, so Jim and Betty 
Elliot, who spoke it fluently, were assigned to assemble from 

234 Adventurers for God 

her a stock of Auca words and phrases, then drill the others 
in their usage. 
The first gift drop was scheduled for Thursday, October 6. 

To understand their powerful compulsion to reach the 
hitherto unreached with the Gospel or die in the attempt 
it is necessary to know these men more intimately. 

Nathaniel Saint, at 32, was the "old man" of the group. 
Also, he had been longest in Ecuador: seven years. He re- 
ceived a thorough religious training from his father, Law- 
rence B. Saint, noted muralist and stained-glass artist. Sig- 
nificantly, Nate had been his father's model for the window 
in Washington's National Cathedral depicting a small boy 
bringing his loaves and fishes to Christ for the feeding of 
the multitude. At 13, stricken with osteomyelitis, young Nate 
promised God that "if He would let me live, my life would 
henceforth belong to Him." Recovered, he kept his bargain. 

Planes early became his passion. In high school he worked 
afternoons and Saturdays to earn money for flying lessons, 
and during World War II he served in the U.S. Air Force. 
When he went to Wheaton College to prepare himself for 
foreign-mission service his only regret was that it meant 
forsaking his first love flying. Then one day news came that 
some ex-service airmen in California had formed a group 
called the Missionary Aviation Fellowship, and were recruit- 
ing pilots who were also mechanics for air supply-line service 
to missionaries in bush and jungle. To Nate the news was 
the voice of God. He dropped his college course and hurried 
to California. "The Lord called me from aviation to Him- 
self," he said later "and then sent me back to aviation for 

Through Gates of Splendor 235 

The Missionary Aviation Fellowship needed a man to pio- 
neer its program in Ecuador. Nate, with his wife Marjorie, 
flew down in September 1948, established a base for his small 
plane at Shell Mera, on the edge of the jungle. He soon had 
a network of landing strips and radio communications (with 
Marj at the base radio hookup and in touch with him con- 
stantly), and in a matter of months had transformed life for 
the mission stations. Where missionaries once had been iso- 
lated and remote, sometimes bedridden for weeks with jungle 
diseases, they now were within a half hour's flying time of 
transportation between stations or ambulance service, and 
got quick delivery of mail, medicines, supplies. 

Nate developed extraordinary skill in getting in and out of 
jungle airstrips, many scarcely wide enough to keep his wing 
tips from brushing the trees. He had no illusions about the 
dangers of such jungle-hopping. "Every time I take off," he 
said, "I am ready to deliver up the life I owe to God." He 
came close to delivering it up one day when, in taking off 
from the Quito airport, a sudden downdraft from the moun- 
tains hurled his light Stinson plane to the ground. In the 
crash his back was broken, his eyes blinded. Yet, when his 
sight returned a few weeks later, he hastened back to his 
work while still encased from neck to thighs in a cast. Mean- 
while, from his hospital bed, lest his accident prove a setback 
for missionary aviation he had made a tape-recording for the 
people back home: 

"It's only logical," he told them, "for conservatives to say, 
'Lefs quit this foolish risk of life/ They would see it differ- 
ently if they knew the chances taken for God every day by 
these missionaries in the jungle. We in missionary aviation 
must always take the safest and sanest course, never being 

236 Adventurers for God 

reckless. But we cannot be less courageous than these brave 
people in the field. 57 

Nate Saint had his theories on expendability, learned dur- 
ing the war. "God Himself set the pattern/' he said, "and 
if He did not hold back His own Son, why should we hold 
back our own little lives for the sake of security? We are 
and must always be expendable." And in his diary he wrote, 
"The Aucas kill on sight, but someone must take the Gospel 
to them. Beyond their territory are other souls for whom 
Christ died." 

Like Nate Saint, the others were young, full of vigor and 
spiritual drive. There was nothing ascetic or anti-life about 
them. In college all had been campus leaders, top scholars, 
better-than-average athletes. 

Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming and Ed McCully had many 
things in common. They were all products of homes where 
religious faith was daily bread and spreading the Gospel 
a divine duty; they were members of the same fellowship 
(Plymouth Brethren), arrived in Ecuador the same year 
(1952), were sponsored by the same foreign-missions group 
(Christian Missions in Many Lands). 

Before coming to Ecuador this trio's paths had crossed 
often, as youth leaders on campus and in Christian youth 
activity. They developed a common feeling for Latin Amer- 
ica as a place to invest their lives, and all felt, soon after 
arrival in Ecuador, a God-impelled urge to "get to" the 

Of the three, Jim Elliot was first to contract "the Ecuador 
itch/* and shortly passed the enthusiasm along. Unusually 
handsome and well-built, and only 28 when he died, he had 
an exuberant zest for living. "Wherever you are, be all there,'* 

Through Gates of Splendor 237 

he once wrote; "live to the hilt every situation you believe 
to be the will of God." At Wheaton College he was a cham- 
pion wrestler, a star debater and public speaker, the out- 
standing spiritual leader on campus, and he graduated with 
highest honors. He went to Ecuador in February 1952, 
and there later married Betty Howard, daughter of a former 

At jungle mission stations, Erst at Puyu Pungu, then at 
Shandia on the banks of the Napo River, Jim and Betty not 
only spread the Gospel but in addition did medical and first- 
aid work: splinting broken arms, treating malaria and snake 
bites, teaching the Quechuas sanitation. They also compiled 
textbooks in the Quechua tongue, then taught the Quechuas 
to read and write their own language. 

But Jim Elliot was preoccupied with the Aucas, and had 
frankly talked over with Betty the hazards of reaching them. 
He loved life, had once written effusively, "I love thee, Life 
not because thou art long but because I have thee from 
God." He had often preached to his Quechuas, "When it 
comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die!" 
The last entry in his diary read: "God, send me soon to the 

Youngest of the team was Peter Fleming only 27 when 
he died on the Curaray beach. Fervently religious, he was 
more introspective than the others. He had an impressive 
knowledge of the Bible. Beside his picture in his high-school 
yearbook he put this slogan: "I don't know what the future 
holds but I know Who holds the future." At the University 
of Washington he was an honor student. He loved the lan- 
guage sciences, in 1951 took his M.A. in English. At his 
mission station at Puyu Pungu he quickly mastered the 

238 Adventurers for God 

Quechua dialects, and with his wife, Olive, had a lively lit- 
eracy program going among the Indians. 

But Pete, too, became intensely interested in getting to 
the Aucas. In college he had been a conscientious objector, 
seeing no way to reconcile the Christian doctrine of love 
with the killing of one human being by another. Yet he had 
no fear of death for himself; his dedication to Operation 
Auca was complete. 

Of the four, Ed McCully had the best reasons for sober 
second thoughts over the Auca enterprise. For over a year 
he and his wife, Marilou, had been working with the Que- 
chuas at Arajuno on the very doorstep of Auca-land. Ara- 
juno was an old Shell Oil camp, abandoned when it was 
found that more blood than oil flowed from the site. 

The Auca attacks did not subside with Arajuno's switch 
from oil to Gospel base. To lessen the danger, McCully had 
cleared the jungle growth back from the mission house, 
erected an electric fence to discourage raiders, put up a 
battery-operated light that could flood the area at first sound 
of approach. Yet, despite all these precautions, a half dozen 
Quechuas had been slain by the Aucas during his stay. It 
was the Aucas 5 hostility, in fact, that made Ed McCully anx- 
ious to reach them with news of God's love. 

Such, then, were the men who, in a spirit lifted right out 
of the Acts of the Apostles, fashioned their bold odyssey to 
the Aucas. 

They were not perfect, these men. They freely acknowl- 
edged their weaknesses and foibles. Nate Saint had his 
battles with frustration, Pete Fleming his bouts with a ten- 
dency toward too-hasty judgment of others. Jim Elliot was 
prone to plunging in where angels feared to tread not 

Gus Borgeest, indomitable Quaker, stands on the shore of his "isle of 
hope" in Hong Kong to welcome another family of escapees arriving by 
sampan from Communist China. (Chapter XII) 

Borgeest inspects a vegetable field on Sunshine Island, 
where refugee Chinese find a haven and a new life. 

Ed McCullv 

Jim Elliot 

Pete Fleming 

A month before landing on the Curaray 
River deep in the Auca territory of Ecuador, 
the participants in Operation Auca were in- 
troduced to the savage tribe by photographs 
dropped from the missionary plane. The 
"insignia of the operation/' a sketch of the 
yellow Piper Cruiser, appeared on the pic- 
tures, and the missionaries were photo- 
graphed holding gifts received earlier from 
the Indians. (Chapter XIII) 

Roger Youderian 

Nate Saint 

Through Gates of Splendor 241 

always pausing to consider whether the angels had good 
ground for their fears. Ed McCully fought "pride of accom- 
plishment'' and "thoughts of sin" which, he found, "Satan is 
ever ready to inject at every idle moment, perhaps right at 
the close of a very intimate period with God." 

But if they were not perfect, neither were they petty. In 
all the accounts of Operation Auca there is no hint of any 
jousting for leadership, any panting for preferment, any 
pouting over position. Their consecration to their task was 
constant. And they were eager to profit from any mistakes as 
they went along. As Nate Saint put it: "If we humbly seek 
His will in any matter, crucifying our own desires, and ven- 
ture by faith and not in fear, we can't go wrong." 

It was with high faith, and not fear, that Nate Saint and 
Ed McCully took off from Arajuno, early on October 6, to 
make their first gift drop. On the Arajuno strip Ed was wait- 
ingwith the first gift for the Aucas, a small aluminum kettle 
with a lid. Inside were about 20 brightly colored buttons 
"obviously not for their clothes, since they don't wear any, 
but they do make good ornaments." Having read that the 
Aucas had no salt sources of their own, Nate insisted on 
adding a little sack of rock salt. "If they know what the stuff 
is good for, we're sure to make friends." To the gifts they 
attached some yard-long streamers, brightly colored. 

They loaded their emergency equipment, rigged the spe- 
cial gift-drop gear, made a test run to be sure they could 
get the rig overboard and took off. In 15 minutes they were 
over "Terminal City." Keeping to the downstream edge of 
the Auca territory so that if they had a forced landing they 
could escape by water, they eventually found a cluster of 

242 Adventurers for God 

buildings that interested them: a large thatched house sur- 
rounded by several smaller ones. 'The main house/' Nate 
reported later, "was about 40 yards from the stream, fronting 
a sand bar perhaps 75 yards long and 15 yards wide. A path 
showed they used this bar frequently it would be our 
target. There was not a living person in sight." 

Nate slowed to 55 m.p.h. while Ed lowered the gift over 
the side. It was an aluminum kettle, to which were attached 
some yard-long, brightly colored streamers. The line dropped 
straight and clear, and Nate began circling. The gift drifted 
in a small, lazy circle below diem, the ribbons fluttering 

There was still no sign of life below. "If no one's watch- 
ing," Ed shouted, "we'd better put it in an obvious place." 

They started spiraling down. There was considerable wind 
drift from the north, and the hills behind the stream were 
covered with tall trees. They made six attempts, gradually 
lifting the bucket against the wind until it was over the bar. 
Then Nate rolled into a steeper turn and the gift hit the 
beach right on the path to the main house. 

The automatic release mechanism Nate had developed 
worked perfectly, the line floated free -"and there was our 
messenger of good will, love and faith, below us on the 
sand bar! We had delivered the first Gospel message by sign 
language to a people a quarter of a mile away vertically, 
50 miles horizontally, but continents and wide seas away 
culturally and spiritually." 

Back home, exuberant at their success, Nate and Ed met 
some good-humored skepticism when they confessed they 
hadn't seen a soul. Were they sure they hadn't deposited the 
gift in a deserted village? But the pair's enthusiasm was 

Through Gates of Splendor 243 

damp-proof. They knew that, at long last, a start had been 

Their second trip, a week later, dispelled any notion that 
Terminal City was without habitants. They immediately 
checked the sand bar where they had left their first offering. 
The kettle was gone. 

This time the gift was a new machete an item so coveted 
by the Aucas that they had killed to get it and their target 
a house upstream from the first one. "We figured that if we 
specialized on any one house, the others might get jealous." 
When they got to the target-house, they spotted four canoes 
pulled up on the riverbank in front of it. Obviously, someone 
must be nearby. 

They began circling and Ed lowered the machete, which 
was canvas-wrapped so that no one would be cut, and decked 
with gay streamers. Ed watched its descent through binocu- 
lars. Suddenly, as Nate described it later, "He let out a yell 
and all but crawled out the open door to get a better look. 
We were seeing our first Auca. tie was running around but 
not hiding. Pretty soon there were three of them out in 
front of their big leaf house.'* 

They could see the Aucas watching the dangling gift as it 
came down. The machete fell into the stream, and instantly 
an Auca dived for it. Soon half a dozen of them were on 
the bank examining the prize. Apparently the gift idea had 
caught on in a hurry. 

There was other evidence that "the neighbors" were inter- 
ested. Back at Arajuno, Nate and Ed found the Quechuas 
milling about excitedly. They had found in the brush near 
Ed's house a number of footprints, obviously Aucas'. Said 
Ed, "Could be that these came from Terminal City, after 

244 Adventurers for God 

our first visit." Said Nate, "They probably hid out there in 
the brush to look you over last night!" 

Immediately the two fell to work making a wooden model 
of the plane, put it on a pole outside the McCully house, to 
identify for any future visitors McCully's connection with the 

Their third visit a week later revealed larger numbers of 
Aucas, increased excitement among them and no signs of 
fear. Coming down to a lower altitude than before, Nate 
circled each of the four main houses of the village while Ed 
snapped pictures of the Aucas running up and down the 
stream bed laughing and shouting, apparently trying to guess 
where the gift drop would be made this time. 

A snappy northeast wind made accurate spotting of the 
machete difficult Several times when the gift was lowering 
near them, the Aucas would scramble helter-skelter in that 
direction, then off to another as it drifted out of reach. They 
laughed and shouted, obviously considering it a game. 

Finally, after a couple of near misses, Ed set the machete 
down within 10 feet of the main house's front door. The 
Aucas had it immediately, holding to the line for several 
minutes while untying the machete. Ed shouted, "Hey, get 
this thrill-holding onto a line held on the other end by an 
Auca!" Nate rolled out of a turn and reached over, gave the 
line a couple of light tugs. "Man, that's fishing!" he shouted 

The line pulled in, they circled down lower than they had 
been before. The idea was to fly past the Aucas to give them 
a close look at their faces for purposes of identification 
later. At 200 feet they tossed out a piece of ribbon, "and 
a brown man had it like a spider takes a fly." A few of the 

Through Gates of Splendor 245 

villagers ran for cover as the plane came so low, but reap- 
peared waving as the Piper circled slowly higher and higher 
before leaving the site. 

The two returned home jubilant, "May God continue to 
put His good hand on this project," Nate wrote in his diary 
that night, "and may we abandon it when not fully assured 
of His direction. At present we feel unanimously that God is 
in it." 

Now they were prepared to try out verbal communication. 
Nate rigged up a public-address system in the plane, and 
Jim Elliot, who had drilled himself in Auca phrases learned 
from Dayuma, the fugitive woman, went with Nate for the 
fourth visit. 

Before making their gift drop they circled slowly over the 
settlement, while Jim called over the speaker, "We like you. 
We are your friends." This time they left several gifts a 
machete, a ten-inch aluminum kettle filled with ribbons, 
trinkets, a shirt. The Indians converged on them with obvi- 
ous delight, and one Auca cupped his hands as though call- 
ing something back. The missionaries were making faster 
progress than they had believed possible. 

On the next trip their reception was even more favorable. 
McCully manned the mike to call out, "We like you. . . . 
We like you. . . . We have come to pay you a visit." The 
Aucas danced about eagerly, and though the plane came 
down low no one ran away, none showed the slightest fear. 
When Ed held out both hands in a gesture of open friend- 
ship, some of the Aucas imitated the gesture, shouting and 

Thus encouraged, the team began to consider the next 
step the actual landing in Auca territory, the face-to-face 

246 Adventurers for God 

contact all had dreamed of. And from then on significant 
signs of friendliness were certainly not lacking. 

On the sixth trip "the neighbors" received their gifts with 
great excitement, waving and yelling at the plane circling 
above. When Nate and Ed pulled in the line, they discovered 
that the Aucas had tied something on it. It was a beautifully 
woven headband, made of cord and brightly colored feath- 
ers. And on the next trip the Aucas sent up two sets of combs 
made of palmwood, whittled and woven intricately with 
native cord. Even more surprising was the appearance of a 
model airplane mounted atop one of the houses. Perhaps it 
was fashioned after secretly observing the model plane at 
Arajuno. In any case it indicated good will and a craftsman- 
ship hitherto unsuspected among such primitives. 

The team noted the Aucas' reaction to bright colors. So 
they rifled their own wardrobes for the fanciest haberdashery 
available: a red-and-black checked shirt, gaudy shorts, red 
swimming trunks. These the Aucas donned upon delivery, 
and paraded proudly about the clearing. "These fellows/' 
commented Nate wryly, "will be diked out like dudes before 
we get to meet them on the ground!" 

To an elderly man who stalked like a potentate about a 
separate clearing of his own, accompanied always by two 
women, they dropped a T-shirt and a pair of Jim's pants. 
On the next trip Nate suggested, "Let's go by and see how 
the old boy liked his new pants." As the plane came over, 
the old man strode out into the clearing, clad in the pants 
and T-shirt, and saluted gravely. His wives stood stolidly 
by, dubiously eyeing their man's sartorial get-up. "One wore 
a baby, the other nothing," Nate noted. 

The Aucas now even attempted to match the missionaries' 

Through Gates of Splendor 247 

bounty in kind. When Nate and Ed sent down a live rooster, 
the Aucas came back the following week with a large black 
bird, and later sent up two parrots. When the missionaries 
lowered several small packages of food, the Aucas sent back 
cooked fish, packets of peanuts, a piece of smoked monkey 

The unique trading went on for another five weeks. To 
make their identity unmistakable, the team took photos of 
themselves wearing or holding the Auca gifts, made 6x9 en- 
largements tinted in lifelike colors. In the corner of each 
print they put the "insignia of the operation/' a drawing of 
the yellow Piper, and dropped them along with their next 

Meanwhile the Aucas, noting the difficulty of making drops 
among the tall trees, felled the trees around their houses to 
make clearings. Going even further, they erected large plat- 
forms about 15 feet from the ground palpably to aid the 
missionaries in getting closer stationed a "traffic director" 
on each, and here displayed their gifts for the pickup. 

Shortly after this development Aucas appeared at Arajuno. 
Early one morning a mission Quechua named Fermin sud- 
denly spotted one of them, naked and armed with a lance, 
at the end of the garden path. As they saw each other, the 
Auca ran away. Fermin dashed back to the mission and 
beat on Marilou McCully's window (she being alone there 
at the time save for Indian helpers), yelling for ammunition 
for his gun. 

Marilou took the gun, which fortunately was not loaded, 
from Fermin's shaking hands. Then, with a machete for a 
gift, she headed down the path, calling in Auca phrases: 
"We like you. . . . We like you." Fermin came after her, 

248 Adventurers for God 

shouting in Quechua, "You're crazy, you're crazy. They'll 
kill you!" 

Around the path, freshly pressed grass indicated the re- 
cent presence of a number of Aucas. Marilou tossed the ma- 
chete to the ground, called out more friendly phrases, and 
returned to her agitated flock. There was no doubt about it: 
Aucas were definitely around. 

Nate and Ed, hastily summoned from other stations, flew 
in and saw in the visit a lost opportunity to contact the 
Aucas. They also realized that a shooting by one of the 
Quechuas would ruin all they had built up so far. 

The incident underscored the desirability of making an 
early ground contact with the Aucas. Despite elaborate pre- 
cautions to keep the operation secret, the Quechuas had by 
now shrewdly guessed what was going on. Two of them 
had even found one of the gift bags, and remarked testily, 
"Why you give all that good stuff to Aucas?" Their jealousy 
was aroused, and they would certainly gossip. Action was 
advisable before the secret leaked further through the jungle. 
And after nine increasingly successful gift drops the time 
seemed ripe. 

Early in December Nate called the team together for a 
conference. They agreed that every consideration, including 
the weather, seemed to be catapulting them toward their 
D-day with now-or-never exigency. Within a month the 
rainy season would start, flooding the rivers and making 
landings impossible. The ideal time for establishing their 
beachhead in Auca-land would be early January during the 
full of the moon. 

They set the date for Tuesday, January 3, 1956. 

Through Gates of Splendor 249 

The only possible landing sites were sand beaches along 
the Curaray River. After days of exploration, Nate and Ed 
had found one that looked likely, some four miles from the 
Auca village. It was only about 200 yards long, and the ap- 
proach and pull-out would be steep until they could fell a few 
trees. But it was possible, and the sand seemed firm and 
pebbly. This, then, would be "Palm Beach." 

Should they carry in firearms? It was a delicate question. 
They knew that the first shot fired would scuttle the entire 
project. Yet it would be criminally naive to go in totally un- 

It was claimed that no one carrying a gun was ever at- 
tacked; the Aucas apparently had a healthy regard for this 
strange weapon. "The handier the revolver," Nate argued, 
"the less chance of a hostile encounter." The team finally 
agreed to take guns along but keep them out of sight, use 
them only in direst emergency, and then only to frighten 
the savages if attacked. 

They planned to allow five days for the beachhead effort 
If it failed in that time they could leave by air, barring 
floods, in which case a crew of Quechuas could come down- 
river for them in canoes. They would bring in a prefabricated 
tree-house and stock it with food for two weeks. This would 
allow a few days' margin if a state of siege developed. 

Another thing: they needed a fifth man. Once the beach- 
head was established, one should guard the tree-house at all 
times, two should patrol the beach, another should attend 
to the supplies and cooking, with Nate on whatever in-and- 
out flight duty was required. 

Marj Saint produced a list of available missionaries in the 
area. The team pored over it. Nate's finger ran down the list, 

250 Adventurers for God 

stopped at the name of Roger Youderian, of the Gospel Mis- 
sionary Union. "What about Roj?" he asked. 

Raised on a Montana ranch, former paratrooper, a veteran 
of the Battle of the Bulge, later chosen as a member of 
General Eisenhower's honor guard, Roger Youderian was a 
man who would not duck danger in any form. He had not 
ducked it in Ecuador. No emergency that arose and there 
had been a lot of them at Macuma, his mission post deep in 
the domain of the head-hunting Jivaros had ever been too 
perilous or too difficult for him to meet with resolution and 
quiet strength. 

The team recalled a dozen exploits of Roger's. One had 
happened only a few months before when, after calling Shell 
Mera for penicillin, he had tramped two days through the 
jungle to an outstation called Paid where an epidemic 
threatened the Jivaros, hacked out an airstrip for Nate to 
land, seized the medicine from the plane before its wheels 
had scarcely stopped rolling and halted the epidemic in 
its tracks. 

And there was the time a Jivaro worker, helping clear a 
new airstrip, had been struck by a falling tree. Roger, 18 
miles away, had heard the news, called Nate for help at 10 
A.M., and set out on foot to cover these 18 tortuous miles 
by 4 o'clock, when he had requested the plane to be ready 
to bring the Indian out. 

Said Nate, "When I got over the narrow cut in the matted 
green that was the airstrip, there was Roj, signaling OK on 
the strip's condition. Haggard, his shirt in shreds, scratched 
and bruised, he helped me load the mangled Jivaro into the 
plane and we got him to Shell just in time for the doctor 
there to save his life." 

Through Gates of Splendor 251 

"We could use a fellow like that," said Jim Elliot, "if he'll 

The "if" was redundant. When invited, Roger grinned 
cheerfully and welcomed the opportunity to share in the 

On Monday, January 2, the team members and their wives 
gathered at Arajuno. All day they worked making ready for 
the beachhead, preparing food, packing equipment. Before 
they were through, the mission grounds looked like a D-day 
staging area. 

At nightfall, wives and husbands withdrew in couples to 
be alone together. Wrapped in the jungle fastness of the 
isolated station, they frankly faced the risks, soberly dis- 
cussed their futures and what the morrow might bring. 

Did the young wives intuitively sense what lay ahead? 
That this might be their last night together? Perhaps. In any 
case, they were ready. 

To Roger, Barbara Youderian whispered, "Remember the 
verse we chose as ours when we started life together? 'Being 
confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a 
good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus 
Christ.' Hold our verse close to your heart, Roj!" 

Betty Elliot told her husband, "I've been privileged above 
any woman in having such a husband, Jim. I shall thank 
God always for the two years of perfect happiness He has 
granted us. If there is to be no more, what more fitting way 
is there to die at the height of your manhood, with your 
dearest friends, and in the attempt to reach the people so 
near to your heart for so long/' 

Olive Fleming, her head on Pete's shoulder, expressed her 
faith in a prayer-verse loved by them both; 

252 Adventurers for God 

I am the Lordsyet teach me all it meaneth, 

All it involves of love and loyalty, 
Of holy service, absolute surrender 

And unreserved obedience to Thee. 

"When the Lord gave us the desire to reach unreached 
Indians/' Marilou McCully reminded Ed, "the first place he 
laid on our hearts was Arajuno, right here where no mis- 
sionary ever lived before us. We were confident of that lead- 
ing, Ed. Now the Lord has put the Aucas on our hearts 
too. With that same confidence we can follow His leading 
now together." 

Of the five wives, only Marjorie Saint was not at Arajuno 
that night. Hers was the duty to man the "radio central" at 
Shell Mera. But between her and Nate no further covenant 
was necessary. Days before, shed said: "Nate, you've always 
told me that every believer should be willing to give his all 
for Christ even his life, if God's mysterious purposes re- 
quired it. During all these years, we've faced many dangers 
together for Him. We are in God's will and care." 

As for the men, they had already faced up to the dangers 
ahead. Nate spoke for all when he told his wife, "There is 
no doubt in my mind that we should go ahead. The stakes 
warrant it." 

Thus, after the most careful preparation, and in complete 
unity and magnificent dedication, Operation Auca had come 
to its D-day. 

Next morning the young couples held a brief prayer serv- 
ice. And, just before leaving, they sang together the hymn 
which became the theme song for Operation Auca: 

Through Gates of Splendor 253 

We rest on Thee, our Shield 

and our Defender! 
Thine is the battle, Thine shall 

be the praise; 
When passing through the gates 

of pearly splendor, 
Victors, we rest with Thee, 

through endless days. 

At 8:02, only two minutes behind schedule, Nate lifted the 
Piper into the air. A few minutes later, after hazardous land- 
ing and equally hazardous take-off from the beachhead sand, 
he had left Ed McCully (who had drawn straws for the priv- 
ilege ) as the first occupant of Palm Beach. Then he returned 
to Arajuno for another load. Altogether he made five trips to 
the beachhead that day, ferrying in the men and supplies. 
There was not time for a sixth, so Peter Fleming had to re- 
main at the mission overnight. 

Next morning, Wednesday, when Nate and Pete flew to 
the beachhead, they circled over Terminal City on the way 
and, using the loud-speaker, invited the Aucas to visit their 
camp. The Aucas waved in a friendly manner and seemed 
to understand. An hour later, when they again circled over 
the village to repeat the invitation, Nate saw that all the men 
had disappeared. Were the Aucas already on their way? 

At the beach, where the tree-house had now been set up 
and routine organized, the missionaries made every possible 
gesture of friendliness. They mounted a model airplane on 
a pole, placed a gift machete at the edge of the jungle, and 
at intervals throughout the day marched up and down the 
beach shouting Auca phrases of welcome. 

254 Adventurers for God 

But no Auca showed up. From the jungle came only 
strange bird calls and the protesting squawk of parrots. 

"Perhaps they'll come tomorrow," Pete said. And remem- 
bering the absence of men from the village, he added, "It's 
plain that the Aucas are looking for us somewhere." 

Thursday, however, was equally unrewarding: flights over 
Terminal City still revealed no male Aucas; the calls into 
the jungle still brought no response. Yet the gift machete 
left out the night before was gone, and the men felt sure 
that, from behind that thick jungle curtain, "we are being 

Slowly the day passed, with intervals of fishing and swim- 
ming, reading, making notes. By 4:30 that afternoon all 
agreed that the Aucas probably were not coming that day. 
Yet they were determined to "sweat it out" until the savages 
could locate their camp and show themselves. 

That evening Nate and Pete went back to Arajuno to sleep, 
since the tree-house was uncomfortably crowded for five 
people. On their way they flew over the Auca settlement. As 
they spiraled down, an Auca climbed up on one of the plat- 
forms, knelt toward the direction of the camp site, pointed 
with both hands. It was an encouraging sign, and that night 
Nate wrote in his diary: "We find we have a friendlier feeling 
for these fellows all the time. We must not let that lead us 
to carelessness. It is no small thing to try to bridge between 
the 20th century and the Stone Age. God help us to take 
care. . . . But may we see them soon!" 

See them soon they did. The long-awaited contact occurred 
the next morning, Friday, January 6. 

Confident now that a delegation of some sort was on its 

Through Gates of Splendor 255 

way, the team had arisen early to begin the verbal bombard- 
ments of the jungle. At midmorning Ed McCully was on one 
end of the beach, Jim Elliot on the other, with Roger You- 
derian, Nate and Pete in between all taking turns shouting 
phrases and waving gifts. 

Suddenly, from directly across the river, a strong mascu- 
line voice boomed out, and immediately three Aucas stepped 
out in the open. They were a man and two women one 
about 30 years of age, the other a well-formed girl of about 
16. They were naked except for G-strings about the waist 
and large wooden plugs in distended ear lobes. 

The missionaries, temporarily struck dumb by the surprise 
appearance, finally managed to shout simultaneously, "Ptw- 
n#ni/" Auca for "Welcome." 

The Auca man replied with a verbal flood, pointing fre- 
quently to the girl. His language was unintelligible, but not 
his gestures. "He's offering the girl for trade," exclaimed 
Pete, "or maybe as a gift" 

Jim Elliot yelled, "I don't know what they've come for. 
But they've come and that's enough for me!" He yanked 
off his outer clothes and began wading across the shallow 

At Jim's impulsive plunge, the Aucas shrank back a trifle 
toward the jungle. But as he approached them, hands ex- 
tended, the girl edged forward and stepped off a log into the 
water. The man and the other woman followed slowly. Jim 
seized their hands and led them across. 

With broad smiles, many puinanis and much reference 
to their phrase books, the five conveyed that their visitors 
had "come well" and need not be afraid. The Aucas' uneasi- 
ness fell from them, and they began jabbering happily to 

256 Adventurers for God 

themselves and the men, "seemingly with little idea that we 
didn't understand them/' 

Roger brought out some paring knives, which they ac- 
cepted with cries of delight. Nate presented a machete and 
the model airplane. The others, suddenly remembering the 
guns in the cook shack and tree-house, went back to hide the 
weapons beneath their duffel. They dug out cameras and 
shot dozens of photos, while the women looked through a 
copy of Time magazine and the man was being doused with 
insecticide to demonstrate civilization's way of dealing with 
the swarming insects. 

Presently the girl drifted over toward the Piper, rubbing 
her body against the fabric and imitating with her hands 
the plane's movement. The Auca man followed. He was 
completely unafraid and self-possessed but obviously curi- 
ous to know more about the "big bird." The missionaries 
promptly named him "George," and the girl "Delilah." 

By sign language George made it plain he wanted a ride 
in the Piper. Finally Nate agreed, and the Auca eagerly 
climbed in. Nate taxied down the strip and took off, with 
George shouting all the way. Suddenly Nate realized his 
opportunity to use his passenger for propaganda, and headed 
for Terminal City. George chortled with delight, leaned 
out to wave and yell at his fellow villagers, whose mouths 
fell open at sight of him in the plane. 

Back on the beach, the missionaries demonstrated for 
their guests such modern marvels as rubber bands, balloons, 
a yo-yo; served them lemonade and hamburger with mus- 
tard. Then they tried to get across the idea that an invita- 
tion to visit the Auca village would not be scorned. For this 
notion George displayed no enthusiasm. 

Through Gates of Splendor 257 

"Why is it he's so reluctant whenever we broach the 
subject?" one of the five demanded. Another replied, "Maybe 
he lacks the authority to invite us on his own." 

As the day wore on, Delilah showed signs of impatience. 
Once when Jim Elliot left the group to go to the tree-house 
she leapt up and followed. She seemed downcast when he 
turned and rejoined the others. 

The rest of the day was spent in rampant friendliness. 
When the Aucas showed signs of wanting to spend the 
night on the beach, the missionaries hospitably offered 
them a small beach shack they had constructed, motioning 
that it was theirs to occupy if they wished. 

Suddenly Delilah wheeled and walked off down the 
beach. George called to her, but she kept going. He fol- 
lowed her into the forest, and the older woman left later. 

When Nate and Pete got back to Arajuno that night, they 
held the waiting wives agog with an account of the day's 
adventures. They were in high spirits. Months of prayerful 
preparation and years of dreaming had brought their re- 
ward. The three days* nerve-racking vigil on Palm Beach 
had paid off. For today they had accomplished what no white 
men had ever accomplished before them: they had stood 
face to face with the fearsome Aucas and on friendly terms. 

The next day, Saturday, was anticlimactic. They waited 
hopefully, expecting the Aucas to return momentarily with 
an invitation to their village. But none came. 

During the day Nate made three calls over Terminal 
City. On the first he was puzzled to see the women and 
children run for cover. Only two men appeared, and they 
seemed frightened. But when he called over the loud-speaker, 
"Come . . . come . . . come!" and threw out gifts of a 

258 Adventurers for God 

blanket, a pot and a pair of nylon shorts, "they seemed 

On the second trip over, the Aucas manifested less fear. 
This time there were several men in the clearing "George" 
among them. An old man pointed toward Palm Beach "and 
seemed friendly, though not exuberant." 

On the third flight all evidence of fear seemed to have van- 
ished. Nate reported, "I got some good smiles from 'George* 
and another young man who, one can imagine, probably 
aspires to ride in tie plane." 

That night, again at Arajuno, Nate tossed sleeplessly, in 
hindsight thinking of devices they might have used to detain 
their Friday visitors. But Sunday morning before taking off 
he confided to Pete, "I have a hunch that things will happen 

He and Pete climbed into the Piper at 8:45. Pete called 
to the wives: "Good-by, girls, pray for us for I believe to- 
day's the day." 

Back at Palm Beach, they found that Ed, Jim and Roger 
also had spent a restless night. They, too, sensed somehow 
that "today things will happen." 

When nothing had happened by midmoming, Nate took 
off to scout the situation. Over the Auca settlement, he 
again saw only a handful of women and children no men. 

On the way back, however, he suddenly spotted figures 
moving along a river beach. He came down for a closer 
look, counted ten Auca men. They were heading toward 
the Curaray. 

"I believe they're coming, fellows!" Nate shouted before 
his wheels had stopped rolling. The four set up a yell. They 
had a brief song and prayer service, ate a quick lunch and 

Through Gates of Splendor 259 

fell to work arranging the beach and shack for company. 

Promptly at 12:35 P.M., their prearranged radio-contact 
time, Nate transmitted the tidings to the wives. Breathlessly, 
and still using their code words, he told of spotting "a com- 
mission of ten" on the way from Terminal City, adding, 
"Looks like they'll be here for an early-afternoon service. 
Pray for us. This is the day! Will contact you next at 4:35." 

The contact was never made. Before 4:35 that afternoon 
all five had fallen beneath the lances and machetes of the 
Aucas, their lif eblood mingling with the soft sand and muddy 
waters of the Curaray. 

Along the Curaray all was quiet. Yet hovering over the 
scene were a host of unanswered questions. When did it 
happen? The only clue was Nate Saint's damaged wrist 
watch, found on his spear-pierced body days later. It had 
stopped at 3:12. 

Had there been a struggle? Later examinations of the 
beach and the tree-house offered no such evidence. Had the 
ten Aucas first feigned friendliness, then turned on their 
unwary victims? It would seem so, for all were slain on the 
beach indicating that even the one set to cover any ap- 
proach from the tree-house had come down. 

The little yellow Piper stood forlornly on the beach, 
pierced by several spears, its yellow fabric stripped as 
though the Indians, regarding the plane as some evil bird, 
had felt they must kill it too. 

But even more mysterious than what happened is: Why? 
Why did the savages, who had shown such cordiality during 
the gift exchanges, and again two days before in face-to-face 
encounter, revert to type? Had "George" returned to the 

260 Adventurers for God 

village with, accounts of that friendliness, with perhaps urg- 
ings to pursue it only to be overruled by the headmen of 
the village whose ingrained fear of strangers had not yet 
been quite conquered? Or had the Aucas been affronted 
by the missionaries' rejection of Delilah in the form she had 
obviously been offeredand come to avenge the insult? 
One can only speculate. The questions remain. 

Back at the mission stations that Sunday afternoon the 
wives waited eagerly for the 4:35 contact. When it didn't 
come, they concluded that perhaps the men were busy 
entertaining the Aucas, or maybe having trouble with their 
transmitter. Then, at Shell Mera, Marj tried calling. No 

The hours dragged by. The wives remained glued to their 
radios. Said Marj Saint wistfully, "This is the first time since 
Nate started jungle flying in '48 that we've been out of con- 
tact for even an hour." 

The suspense was the sharper because most of their mis- 
sionary friends in the network were unaware that Opera- 
tion Auca was in progress. Should they call for help, and 
thereby divulge the secret? They decided to wait until they 
were sure something serious had happened. 

Early Monday morning Johnny Keenan, Nate's team- 
mate at Shell Mera, who had been in on the operation from 
the beginning, took off in his Piper for Palm Beach. Pres- 
ently he radioed that Nate's plane seemed to be stripped of 
its fabric, and that there was no sign of the men. The wives, 
quickly flown to Shell Mera from their isolated stations, 
conferred with heavy hearts. Something, plainly, had gone 
terribly wrong. By midrnorning they'd made their decision: 

Through Gates of Splendor 261 

they would appeal for help. Marj relayed the facts to radio 
station HCJB at Quito, known as "The Voice of the Andes," 
which then put the news on the air. 

Search operations were begun at once. A detachment of 
Ecuadorian soldiers, missionaries and Quechua Indians 
was dispatched to the spot; planes and a helicopter were 
sent over. But the searchers could report only tragedy a 
rifled camp, a stripped and broken plane, spear-pierced 
bodies floating in the river. Four of the bodies were recov- 
ered. Ed McCully's, brutally mutilated by a machete slash, 
was seen and identified by a party of Quechua Indians who 
had come down the river ahead of the search party; but it 
disappeared beneath the muddy waters, and was never 

That afternoon the wives were informed of the day's grim 
discoveries. Observers were moved at the quiet fortitude 
with which they received the news. "We expected hysteria," 
one reporter commented. "We are seeing instead an eloquent 
testimony to the power and beauty of the faith for which 
these men gave their lives." 

At the request of the women, their husbands' bodies 
remained at the site and were buried in a common grave 
dug beneath the tree-house. One said quietly: "There they 
lived for six wonderful days. There they preached, by 
word and action, the gospel of God's salvation for all even 
Aucas. There they should rest until the Resurrection." 

The day after the burial, the five women asked to be 
flown over Palm Beach. From the plane, looking down 
through tears at the beach, they saw the rough mound 
beneath the tree-house. "It's the most beautiful little ceme- 
tery in the world," murmured Marj Saint. 

262 Adventurers for God 

While the plane circled over the site, they read from II 
Corinthians 5, then knelt together on the corrugated floor 
of the plane, commending their loved ones to God, pledging 

in prayer that "we too may be faithful in all that God asks 

of us. 

Someone started singing the "theme song" they had sung 
with the men on that last breakfast together. The others 
picked up the refrain: 

We rest on Thee, our Shield 

and our Defender! 
Thine is the battle, Thine shall 

be the praise; 
When passing through the gates 

of pearly splendor, 
Victors, we rest with Thee, 

through endles days. 

And as the C-47 began its slow upward circle away from 
the site, they stared down at the receding beach, saying 
no more, each wrapped in her own thoughts, thinking not of 
themselves but of their men. One opened her Bible to read, 
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with 
thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee . . " 
From her purse Betty Elliot took out a frayed piece of paper; 
it was a little poem Jim had written five years before: 

The tide of night has washed away 
The littered shore of yesterday, 
And I discover at the dawn 
A fresh-swept beach to waTk upon. 

Through Gates of Splendor 263 

During that harrowing week the big rambling mission 
house at Shell Mera, which Nate and Marj had built with 
their own hands, swarmed with guests. They were partici- 
pants in the search and rescue operation, armed forces 
personnel, mechanics servicing the planes, press and radio 
correspondents, missionaries come in from distant stations 
to do what they could. 

At first the wives were overwhelmed by the public con- 
cern that flowed over and around them. For the first time, 
their humble doings in this remote corner of earth were in the 
blazing light of publicity. But they quickly adjusted, merci- 
fully were kept busy caring for their children, feeding and 
bedding down the scores of guests coming and going. 

A puzzled U.S. airman watched them a while, then com- 
mented, "There's a well, a sort of radiance about those 
women that gets you. How do they do it?" His companion 
drew him to the door of the temporarily evacuated living- 
room. He pointed to one of the widows at the piano; think- 
ing she was alone, Barbara Youderian was running her 
hands over the keys, softly singing. The airman strained 
his ears, caught the words: "Were the whole realm of nature 
mine, that were an offering far too small. Love so amazing, 
so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.* 

On February 16 Dr. Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, President 
of Ecuador, posthumously awarded the slain missionaries 
the "Order of Merit in the Rank of Commander" for "sac- 
rificial service in behalf of the inhabitants of the eastern jun- 
gles" the highest recognition ever given Protestants in 
Ecuador. And in the United States a fund was started to 
provide emergency aid for the five wives and education for 
their nine children. Money flowed in, and within a few weeks 

264 Ad-venturers for God 

an impressive sum was subscribed most of it in small 

The death of the five did not end Operation Auca. Within 
three weeks Johnny Keenan, Nate's companion pilot at Shell 
Mera, was continuing the flights and gift drops over the set- 
tlement. Meanwhile, mission groups back in the United 
States were processing a score of applications from fliers 
anxious to take Nate Saint's place. The effort to reach the 
Aucas, far from being abandoned, now promised to be 

The weeks immediately following the tragedy brought 
astonishing response. Evidence quickly accumulated to prove 
that the drama on the Curaray was shaking the Christian 
Church back in the United States as it had not been shaken 
in a generation. From widely spread colleges more than 
1000 students volunteered to enter the foreign-mission field. 
Mission boards announced new plans to reach not only 
Aucas but others of the yet-to-be-contacted tribes such as 
those in New Guinea, the Philippines, Indo-China, the Ama- 
zon Valley, north central Africa. 

A news commentator observed, "I'm no missionary, but 
for years I have been watching them and this I know: The 
Aucas are marked men marked not for extinction but for 
conversion. As such, they haven't a chance. Missionaries, 
especially those touched by martyrdom, are hard to stop, 
The blood of martyrs seems still to be the seed of the 

Even more astonishing were the reactions at the mission 
stations the men had served. Attendance at schools and 
church services reached record levels. From Shatndia, Betty 

Through Gates of Splendor 265 

Elliot reported that within a few weeks more Indians had 
come into the Church than in many months before the five 
died. One of the converts had turned into an evangelist 
of exceptional talents "a long step toward Jim's greatest 
desire, namely that spiritual leadership here would one day 
devolve wholly upon the Indians themselves." 

Two Christian Quechuas at Arajuno, formerly as fearful 
of their "neighbors" as the rest of the Quechua tribe, vol- 
unteered to devote their lives to converting the Aucas. From 
Macuma, Barbara Youderian reported that when Roger's 
sacrifice became known to the Jivaros, ten stepped forth to 
say they loved their Lord enough to die for Him in like man- 
ner. One Jivaro, whose father had been a witch-doctor re- 
sponsible for many raids on a rival tribe, volunteered to 
go at once to the enemy with a message of Christian good 
will. He did so, bringing the first peace between the tribes 
in years. 

To the wives, such results, so much greater than they 
or their husbands had dared dream, were a revelation of 
God's larger design. 

At Shell Mera, Marj Saint said humbly: "His plan seems to 
have reached much farther than the Aucas for whom alone 
the fellows were willing to die. That He should use this to 
His greater glory is none of our doing. 

"But isn't that His way/' she added: "using the small 
things to confound the mighty?" 

In that simple attitude and expression is summed up the 
dauntless faith that has moved all missionaries, crowned all 
martyrs, since their Master first said, "Go ye ... for lo, I 
am with you alway, even unto the end." 

Hall, Clarence Wilbur, 1902- 

Adventurers for God. New York, Harper c!959:i 

265 p. 22 cm. 

"Articles -which originally appeared in somewhat different form 
in. the Reader's Digest." 

I. Missions Addresses, essays, lectures. i. Title. 

BV2035.H2 266 59^-5219 J 

Library of Congress