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Irene Ferrel (1964) - Targeted by Rebels

Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19

Irene, an American missionary in the Congo, was among the many Christian and humanitarian workers who came under attack following the withdrawal of the Belgian colonial rulers in the early 1960s. They became the new target of the Marxist guerrillas who roamed the jungles, after the Belgians had been forced out by the Simba Uprising.

Irene, who had been in the Congo for ten years, served Christ at the Kwulu mission school, which was in a largely peaceful location. But on 24 January 1964, she and her companion Ruth Hege had to pack their bags for an evacuation.

In fear and trepidation they made their way to a nearby clearing to await a helicopter. Minutes went by, turning into hours, and no helicopter arrived. Finally they gave up and turned in for the night. Awakened abruptly from their sleep they heard cries and shrieks coming towards their mission station.

Irene and Ruth could do nothing but attempt to escape the hostile rebels who descended upon them. They were dragged out, and Irene was shot by an arrow. Ruth fell, knocked unconscious by a blow, only to awaken and find the rebels gone and Irene dead. After peace returned to the Congo, Ruth began again the work in Kwulu.

Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: shed forth, we pray, upon your whole Church in paradise and on earth the bright beams of your light and heavenly comfort; and grant that we, following the good example of those who have loved and served you here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into the fullness of your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.


Irene Ferrel (1964) Targeted by Rebels

Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing