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jesus the radical pastor | exploring the life and mission of the 1st century Jesus for our 21st century » Blog Archive » “…victim of his own devotion.”

While traveling home from Ukraine, I read Monganga Paul: The Congo Ministry and Martyrdom of Paul Carlson, M.D.

I first read this book in 1970 and I almost applied to a medical school in Dallas, TX rather than attend Dallas Theological Seminary. My job at the time was being an orderly in a small hospital. Paul Carlson’s life, passion and medical missionary service in Wasolo, Congo captured my imagination and I wanted to continue his legacy. As it turned out, I stayed on course pursuing becoming a pastor. (That’s a story in itself.)

Leaving a promising (and lucrative) career as a surgeon in California, Paul Carlson became an Evangelical Covenant missionary in Congo just after it declared its independence from Belgium. Caring for the sick and needy, often doing critical surgeries by either flashlight or kerosene lantern, Paul gave himself to being Jesus to the people of the Wasolo region.

Communist insurgents began to foment upheaval and death in Congo and in that turbulence, Paul’s family made it to safety and Paul was captured and accused of being a spy. On November 24, 1964 Belgian soldiers were dropped into Stanleyville in order to rescue the hostages. In the furor that erupted, Paul and a friend, Chuck Davis, ran to jump over a wall out of the line of gunfire. Chuck Davis made it over and reached back to help Paul. A young Simba (lion) soldier rounded a corner and fired five shots and Paul’s life on earth ended.

These were international events at the time and Paul’s death was world news. One Catholic priest who escaped because Paul intervened for him said to Lois, Paul’s wife, “I will never forget this good doctor who is so sadly the victim of his own devotion…”

Stop! “…the victim of his own devotion.” What a tribute! Will that ever be said of me? What are we devoted to?

Read this stirring story of a man who lived and loved like Jesus.

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