In the strife which followed the granting of independence to the old Belgian Congo in 1960, the Congo Protestant Relief Agency was born. One who answered the agency’s urgent plea for skilled professional help was Dr. Paul Carlson, then a practicing surgeon in suburban Los Angeles. Carlson spent four months in the Congo in 1961. Returning home, he applied for appointment to the Congo as a medical missionary under Covenant World Missions, an arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America. This time he was sent with his family to operate a one-doctor hospital. He was also destined to rally much of the Christian world to prayer for his safety.
As Chinese-Communist-inspired rebels began to initiate serious trouble this past summer, American Embassy officials told all missionaries and their families to leave the embattled Congo area, but said that doctors, because of the critical need, could stay if they so chose.
Carlson, his wife, Lois, and their two children, Wayne, 9, and Lynette, 7, left September 4. He settled his family in the neighboring Central African Republic, then returned to the mission station at Wasolo.
Mrs. Dwight Carlson, a sister-in-law, says that at the time the area was considered safe. She also says that the local Congolese had asked him to come back, and that his wife had indicated in a letter that Carlson would not have knowingly walked into a trap.
One of the first radio messages to his wife indicated he was back at work in the hospital and that the situation was “very peaceful.” But the rebel forces soon cut off the escape route the local Congolese had worked out for him.
The last communication Carlson got through to his wife before being captured by the rebels reportedly came on September ...1
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