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Ferrel, Irene (d. 1964)

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Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1964 Jan 30 p. 1

Birth date:

text of obituary:

Congo Mission Stations Evacuated

15 CIM Workers Leave Two Posts; Buildings Burned

Fifteen missionaries of the Congo Inland Mission were safely evacuated in last week's violence in Kwilu province, according to information received here by General Conference Mission Board headquarters, 722 Main.

“The only information we have other than that which appears in the news media comes from a cable from Rev. Vernon Sprunger in the Congo, the State Department, and the Congo Embassy,” said Rev. Andrew R. Shelly executive secretary.

From Two Stations

Evacuated from Mukedi station where Rev. and Mrs. Peter Buller, Rev. and Mrs. Harvey Barkman, Rev. and Mrs. Charles Sprunger, Dr. and Mrs. Arnold Nickel, Elda Ruth Hiebert and Betty Quiring.

Evacuated from Kandala station were Rev and Mrs. Harold Graber, Rev. and Mrs. James Bertsche, and Selma Unruh.

At the Elkhart, Ind., office of the Congo Inland Mission the following cable was received Saturday from Rev. Sprunger, field director in the Congo: “Mukedi missionaries all evacuated to Kikwit Jan. 23. Kandala missionaries to be evacuated to Tshikapa today. Letter follows.”

Baptist Missionary Killed

According to an Associated Press report, two Baptist missionaries in the trouble zone were victims of the attackers. Irene Ferrel, Gerome, Idaho, was killed with an arrow and Ruth Hege, Wellington, Ohio, was wounded in the arm. Miss Hege was reported to have been making a coffin for her slain companion when she too was attacked.

[Note: Photos of Rev. and Mrs. Harold Graber, Selma Unruh and Elda Hiebert in original]

Peter Buller is quoted as saying Miss Ferrel signaled desperately for help when he flew over the Baptist mission last Wednesday, but he couldn't land since there was no air strip. The insurgents apparently were armed mostly with bow and arrow, knives and machettes [sic].

“It is important to remember that this is an uprising within the province of Kwilu,” Rev. Shelly explained. “It is not a Congo-wide uprising. We have very few facts at this time, but anticipate the missionaries will be back at work as soon as possible.” Leader of the terrorists is Pierre Mulele, a pro-Communist and former education director. U. N. troops were being flown in to help restore order.

Buildings Burned

The Congo Inland Mission field is divided by the Loange River, which is also the boundary between Kwilu and Kasai provinces. Three CIM stations — Mukedi, Kandala and Kamayala — are on the west side of the river. A U. N. plane which flew over Kandala reported that the mission buildings there had been burned to the ground. There was no evidence of unrest in Kasai province on the east side and apparently the work there was going forward.

The events in the Congo and other parts of Africa, said Rev. Shelly, "underscore the urgency of sharing the gospel of Chrst as soon as possible. It seems tragic that so many in the Congo have not had the opportunities of the gospel. Instead of running into wide open doors, the Christian church has crawled. While in these idays of disturbance Christian witness in the areas involved is restricted, the rest of the Congo is wide open."

The CIM, an inter-Mennonite mission, is supported cooperatively by the General Conference Mennonite Church, Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, and Evangelical Mennonite Church. It has 71 workers on the field.


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