The Martyrs of New Guinea
2 September 1942
From the Satucket Lectionary
New Guinea (also called Irian), one of the world’s largest islands, has a difficult terrain that discourages travel between districts, Consequently, it is home to many isolated tribes, with many different cultures and at least 500 languages. Christian missionaries began work there in the 1860’s, but proceeded slowly.
When World War II threatened Papua and New Guinea, it was obvious that missionaries of European origin were in danger. There was talk of leaving. Bishop Philip Strong wrote to his clergy: “We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in His spiritual and mystical body, the Church in Papua.”
They stayed. Almost immediately there were arrests. Eight clergymen and two laymen were executed “as an example” on September 2, 1942. In the next few years, many Papuan Christians of all Churches risked their own lives to care for the wounded.
by James Kiefer