AWANA at the Lumley church in Sierra Leone.

AWANA at the Lumley church in Sierra Leone.

Rev. Sorie Kamanda, lead pastor of the Lumley United Brethren church in Sierra Leone, shared some photos and videos of their recent Awana Vacation Bible School. The Lumley Church is located just outside of Freetown. The Awana program is used by 47,000 churches around the world, involving 3.7 million children and youth, 470,000 volunteers, and 260 field staff.

Lt. DeWitt Baker

Lt. DeWitt Baker

DeWitt Baker graduated from Huntington College in 1940, taught school in Michigan for two years, and then volunteered for duty in the Naval Reserves Air Force, where he learned to fly. While on furlough in 1942, he married a UB preacher’s daughter, Evelyn Middaugh, whom he had met at Huntington College. The Navy then sent him to Brazil to help guard the naval shipping lanes to Africa. He spent most of the war flying patrols over the Atlantic searching for German submarines, with some stints as a test pilot.

In 1944, Evelyn read in the denominational magazine about five United Brethren missionaries who were on their way to Sierra Leone, and would be stopping in Natal, Brazil. (See the April 9 post.) She clipped the article and sent it to her husband, who received the letter just as he arrived in Natal on temporary assignment. Natal was located on the eastern point of Brazil, the closest point to Africa.

Three young women arrived on April 20–Bernadine Hoffman, Oneta Sewell, and Erma Funk. DeWitt and Bernadine had been classmates at Huntington College, and he also knew Erma Funk. Several days later, Lloyd and Eula Eby joined them.

The missionaries were stuck in Natal for six weeks. Lt. Baker was able to spend three weeks with them before being transferred. In the company of a naval officer, the missionaries could eat at the naval base and attend English church services there. One day, he took them up a river for a picnic, with American hotdogs. Another time, 19 missionaries gathered at the hotel for an indoor picnic supplied by the mess sergeant at the base.

Altogether, up to 40 Africa-bound missionaries, representing many denominations, were stranded in Natal. They met at the hotel each morning, 8-10 am, for devotions. DeWitt Baker met with them every other morning; the alternate days found him flying patrols over the Atlantic. One time they had special prayer for one of Baker’s fellow pilots who, while far out in the ocean, had an engine die. There was much rejoicing when he made it back.

Planes were constantly making the flight across the Atlantic, but military people had priority. Finally, on June 4, Pan Am had a plane for them. A few seats would be filled by the wives of Firestone workers. All the rest would go to missionaries. On June 5, after a 14-hour flight, their seaplane landed in Liberia. From there, the five United Brethren missionaries made their way by boat to Sierra Leone. They reached Sierra Leone on June 9, exactly two months after leaving Indiana.

Lloyd Eby was impressed with young Lieutenant Baker, and sent him a letter later that summer. After leaving the military, would he be interested in going to Sierra Leone to start a secondary school? DeWitt’s reply was that God hadn’t called him to become a missionary, and besides, he wasn’t a United Brethren member. But Eby followed up in 1948 after returning to the States. In August 1949, DeWitt and Evelyn Baker began their own journey to Sierra Leone, where they would spend the next 16 years, followed by 16 years in the Huntington College presidency.

ellen-rush300On April 19, 1929, Ellen Rush (right) concluded six years as a missionary in Sierra Leone.

She traveled to Sierra Leone in August 1923 with Mable Shultz, both of them to serve in Bonthe at the Minnie Mill girls’ school. Illness forced Mable to return home after about six months, but Ellen remained. She was house mother to the 50 resident students, and sometimes taught in the school, which had an additional 40 students.

Her mother’s illness and subsequent death caused Ellen to cancel plans for a third term. Back in Alma, Mich., she became a Registered Nurse in 1937.


Progress is being made at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone. Global Ministries staff member Matt Asher (right) is working with others to prepare the site for the 100kVA solar array and water purification/packaging project. Solar panels, batteries, packaging equipment, and supplies are on their way and will be installed in the coming months. The project will eventually provide electricity to the hospital and sell excess electricity to a limited number of consumers in the community.

The SOLA WATA business on the hospital campus will sell packaged drinking water in the surrounding towns and villages. These installations, and the resultant income, will greatly enhance the hospital’s ability to be substantially more self-sustaining while advancing its medical work and ministry to the surrounding 200,000 residents of Bonthe District.

David Kline speaking at GO Week in the Merillat Centre for the Arts.

David Kline speaking at GO Week in the Merillat Centre for the Arts.

On March 31, Huntington University wrapped up its Go Week – a time for students to consider how God might be calling them to be used in the work of the Great Commission, whether at home or abroad. This year’s guest speakers were all HU alumni currently serving with mission organizations, including Global Ministries’ own David and Melissa Kline.

Throughout 2017, as we celebrate the United Brethren denomination’s 250th anniversary, we are looking at events from our history. You can see all posts here.

Judith Eby, the oldest daughter of Bishop Lloyd and Eula Eby, died on April 19, 1952. She was just 26 years old.

On April 9, 1944, two months before the D-Day landing, Lloyd and Eula Eby departed for Sierra Leone as missionaries. They had served one term in Sierra Leone in the early 1920s after graduating from Huntington College. Next came 18 years in the Detroit area, during which they started six churches. Now, they were again needed in Africa.

This time, they had two teenage daughters–Judith, 18, and Shirley, 15. Though the girls were still in high school, Huntington College allowed them to move into the girls’ dormitory, which would have been Livingston Hall. Livingston, which started out as a house, was enlarged that year to the size most people remember, with more rooms and a prayer chapel on the lower level.

This being war-time, the trip to Africa was dangerous and nobody knew how long the war would last. But Huntington College was able to assure the Ebys, “Don’t worry about your girls. We’ll take care of them.”

The Eby family was reunited in 1947. Lloyd served as bishop 1949-1957. In 1950, Shirley graduated from HC and Lloyd was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.

Judith attended HC 1945-1946, but never graduated. She struggled for many years with a brain tumor, to which she finally succumbed on April 19, 1952.

carlson_clarence300On April 18, 1925, Clarence Carlson boarded a ship for Sierra Leone. He would go on to serve five terms as a missionary, pastor UB churches in three different states, and spend eight years as bishop. But at this point, he was just a 28-year-old Huntington College drop-out embarking on his first ministry assignment.

Clarence E. Carlson was born August 9, 1897, the son of Swedish immigrants who settled in Illinois. He grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, spoke both English and Swedish, and could play a variety of instruments—guitar, violin, accordion. He joined the US Navy during World War I, but was never assigned to a ship.

In 1921, Carlson’s parents bought a farm in Michigan across from the Jackson Street UB church (now called Countryside) in Breckenridge. He landed a job with an insurance company in Grand Rapids, and attended the UB church on Sundays. One Sunday afternoon in 1923, alone in his room, he yielded his life to Christ. The next year, he entered Huntington College with the sense that God wanted him in the ministry.

When Carlson became aware of the need for a missionary in Sierra Leone, he offered himself. College would have to wait.

Carlson landed in Freetown on May 9 and hitched a ride to Bonthe with an American delivering a load of Texaco gas. From there, field superintendent George Fleming took him to Gbangbaia, where he was to replace Lloyd Eby. The missionary novice found himself supervising a school, a boys’ boarding home, a church, and a medical dispensary. Fortunately, he had a good national staff at the school, and a fine pastor for the church.

George Fleming said Carlson drew up for himself a daily schedule of 16-17 hour days. “A busy man, and fortunately, a very capable one. His work was well planned, and he held religiously to his schedule.”

Carlson focused a lot of attention on the boys at the school, constantly watching for “opportunities to present the claims of Christ on the life of individual students, gently pressing them towards a personal decision to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.” Some of those boys became United Brethren ministers.

Carlson returned to the States in 1928, and in 1929, while continuing his previously interrupted studies at Huntington College, became pastor of College Park UB church. But in 1931, education again got trumped by needs in Africa. We’ll continue his story in July.

On April 17, 1948, the 24-year-old Olive Weaver began the first of what would become five terms as a missionary in Sierra Leone. She serve continuously until 1968.

Olive, like several other missionaries over the years, including Eula Eby, Ruth Benner, and Shirley Fretz, came out of the Grace UB church in Sherkston, Ontario.

Olive spent her first four terms, 1948-1963, teaching at the Minnie Mull School for Girls in Bonthe. She moved to Bumpe for the fifth term to serve at the girls’ school.

As with other missionaries, Olive’s duties went well beyond her “official” assignment. She helped lead services in villages, cared for babies and children, and was involved with starting some of the UB churches in the Freetown area.

Back in Ontario, Olive taught elementary school in Fort Erie. She later married Tom Rickersey, an Australian. Tom passed away in 1996, leaving behind four children and ten grandchildren.

Olive Weaver Rickersey, 82, passed away July 6, 2007.

Left: Elen and Noel Bowman in the 1940s. Right: Elen Bowman.

Left: Elen and Noel Bowman in the 1940s. Right: Elen Bowman.

Elen Bowman and her husband, Noel, were missionaries in Sierra Leone for one term during World War II, 1941-1944. Their two-year-old son remained behind in the States. They were stationed at Gbangbaia and then at Minnie Mull Girls’ School. Elen was a teacher and matron at the schools and boarding homes, while Noel managed both boarding homes.

After leaving the field, Noel pastored various churches in Oregon Conference for 17 years. When he died in 1965, Elen concluded what she called her 22-year “furlough” and returned to Sierra Leone, serving as manager and teacher at the Bumpe Girls’ School, as conference Christian Education secretary, and in other capacities. She served two more terms—1966-1969, and 1970-1973.

Altogether, Elen served 11 years in Sierra Leone. She passed away April 15, 1997, in Newberg, Oregon.

Dr. Y. T. Chiu (seated, front) with staff of the UB school in Canton, China (March 1931).

Dr. Y. T. Chiu (upper right) with staff of the UB school in Canton, China (March 1931).

Yan Tze “Y. T.” Chiu was born on April 14, 1890, in Canton, China. This brilliant man was responsible for starting United Brethren work in China and Hong Kong–and, therefore, deserves some credit for the eventual start of UB ministry in Macau, Thailand, Myanmar, New York City, and Toronto.

Chiu was a third-generation Christian; his maternal grandfather was the first Baptist preacher in Canton. Chiu came to America in August 1908 and graduated two years later from Boone’s University. In 1913, he received a degree in chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley, while also teaching in Congregational and Methodist mission schools. For a year, he was an official with the Chinese Students Association of North America, visiting Chinese students at various institutions along the Pacific Coast.

In 1915, Chiu received a Masters degree from Columbia University in New York. He returned to China in August 1915, where he joined the staff of Canton Christian College and taught chemistry. As a reward for ten years of service, he was given a year for graduate study, all expenses paid, at any university in America. He chose Cornell University in New York. His PhD thesis involved a process for making a milk substitute from soybeans.

Chiu’s cousin, Rev. Moy Ling, ran a school for Chinese people in Portland, Ore. It was supported during the 1920s by the United Brethren Women’s Missionary Association. Chiu was enlisted to begin UB missionary work in China. He and his wife started a school in Canton. In 1932, the work entered a second phase, evangelism, as women began traveling from village to village to teach and preach.

The Chius fled Canton in 1937 when the Japanese bombed the city en route to occupying southern China. They lost most of their belongings, including 5000 books from Dr. Chiu’s library. The staff evacuated to the British colony of Hong Kong, but the Japanese followed them there four years later, invading Hong Kong on December 8, 1941 (only eight hours after Pearl Harbor, but the international dateline put the two events on different days). The 14,000 British and Canadian troops surrendered on Christmas Day. During the rest of World War II, the Japanese terrorized the populace, killing and raping thousands of people. After the war, the Japanese governor of Hong Kong was executed as a war criminal.

The Chius returned to Canton in 1946, but only for a year together. In 1947, Dr. Chiu traveled to Hong Kong, while his wife and daughter, Bessie, stayed behind. They didn’t see each other for ten years.

The communists, under Mao, took over China in 1949. The work in Canton ended in 1952. Mrs. Chiu and Bessie lived under communist rule until 1957, when they made their way separately to Hong Kong. The Chius were finally reunited.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Dr. Chiu was ordained as a United Brethren minister in 1949. In 1950 he started a church in Hong Kong, and ran medical clinics for the poor. The work grew. When Bishop Clyde W. Meadows officially organized Hong Kong Conference in 1962, there were four churches, six ministers, and nearly 500 members.

In 1959, Dr. Chiu became a U.S. citizen. The Chius retired to Glendale, Calif., in 1967.

Later in life, Y.T. Chiu received honorary doctorates from Colorado Bible College and Seminary (D.D.) and the Episcopal Universities in London (Doctor of Humanities). He wrote 65 books and 102 tracts, many of which were translated into English. His writings included text books (chemistry and mathematics), sermons, Bible stories, and Bible studies. He was also a sought-after speaker, fulfilling over a thousand engagements in 34 states.

This remarkable man passed away at age 97 on November 9, 1987, in Burbank, Calif.