Grace Triumphant - Chapter 13 - War Clouds Gather


War Clouds Gather

“Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:
though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” (Psa.

As mentioned in the last chapter, our second furlough was 1937 to
1938.  During this furlough we tried to manage that Leonard and
Kenneth would have a year in public school.  In the Philippines we
had been teaching them ourselves using the Calvert course.  Though
this demanded a good bit of our time, we felt it was the best approach
to their education at that time.  When we returned here they were
able to enter Bordner High School as some previous regulations were
relaxed.  That also made it possible for Rose to attend primary
school.  One of the highlights of that furlough was witnessing
Leonard and Kenneth being baptized at Elmwood Chapel in Buffalo, New
York, on January 30, 1938.

Prior to our furlough, Miss Jeannette Lape from Glendale, California
had joined us in the work.  She had had some health and
temperamental problems and these were probably aggravated by our
absence.  Early one Saturday morning we received a cable from a
good friend in Manila, Miss Edna Hotchkiss of ABWE, that Jeannette had
a nervous breakdown and should be accompanied home as soon as
possible.  Miss Hotchkiss offered to accompany her but that would
mean a return ticket for her.  The total cost would be around
$1200.00.  I immediately phoned Mr. Richard Mac Lachlan, editor of
“Voices From the Vineyard” in New York, and also Tom Millham of her
commending assembly, suggesting that any available funds should be sent
to the latter for transmittal to Manila.  Both of these brethren
got in touch with others over that weekend.  In the goodness and
grace of our Lord, and through the generosity of the Lord’s people, the
needed funds were cabled to Manila on Monday.  It was a real boost
to our faith to see how quickly God answered our prayers.  After
she recuperated, Miss Lape was very anxious to return to the
Philippines but the brethren in Los Angels did not feel it was wise to
commend her.  She did return with another missionary group but
after a few years had again to be invalided home.

On one of my itineraries on that furlough I arranged to visit Fort
Dodge, Iowa.  My purpose was to talk with Brother Lloyd Walterick
who was then publishing “Light and Liberty.”  Along with others I
was concerned that Voices was appearing infrequently and
irregularly.  It was feared this would mean a lessening of
missionary interest.  To my delight I learned that Brother
Walterick had just returned from a visit to New York where he met with
several brethren who had a similar concern.  Among them were
Harold Harper, a good friend and a frequent giver to missionaries, and
also Charles Bellinger who had been one of our teachers in the
missionary school in Brooklyn.  Although Brother Bellinger was a
busy businessman on Wall Street, for several years he headed up this
new ministry of serving as a liaison between missionaries and the home
assemblies.  In later years, after the home call of Brother
Bellinger, Christian Missions in Many Lands came into being and later
on amalgamated with the group from the “Voices From the Vineyard” and
the “Missionary Fund.”  Missionaries all over the world owe a deep
debt of gratitude to the many brethren who have given of their time and
energy in helping the Lord’s work in other lands.

War   clouds were gathering in Europe, and Hitler’s ruthless
tactics were becoming evident as we returned from furlough in
1938.  On the cross-pacific voyage one war rumor made us wonder
whether we would reach our destinations.  My nephew, Cyril Weller,
had been accepted by the China Inland Mission for service in
China.  However, he could not travel with us to Shanghai because a
party of single ladies was booked on that ship.  CIM policy did
not allow single men to be on the same ship with single ladies of their
mission.  An older CIM missionary was booked, Mr. Henry
Ford.  He once wrote, whimsically, to Henry Ford of motor fame,
asking if it was true that Ford Company would provide a vehicle to a
namesake of its founder.  He was told that rumor was not
true.  Mr. Ford, who was of short stature, had been informed that
two small boys would also occupy his cabin.  The two boys (Len and
Ken) were both taller than he!

We were soon involved again in the work when in 1939 war broke out in
Europe.  We were vacationing in Baguio in 1940 when the German
armies overran Holland, Belgium, and France.  Henry de Vries, who
had spent several years in missionary work in Mindanao, was in the
opposite side of the duplex.  He came in to listen to the news
broadcasts and was quite excited because, being from Holland, he knew
many of the places mentioned and had relatives in some of them.

Just after the evacuation of the British from Dunkirk, in my visits to
Santol Sanitarium, I was conversing with an American priest who was a
patient there.  He expressed the opinion that Britain was doomed
and that Hitler would be victorious.  I suggested that if he would
consider the Bible and history he would find he was mistaken. 
Even though in this present age Israel as a nation has been set aside
by God, yet still they are His people, “for he that toucheth you
toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8).  Any ruler or nation
that has persecuted the Jews has eventually suffered for it. 
Maybe if Hitler had been a better student of history, not to say the
Bible, he would not have gone down in such an ignominious defeat.

In the second half of 1941 good numbers of servicemen were coming to
our home.  Frequently there were fellows off cruisers that stopped
in Manila for the weekend.  We learned that American ships
crossing the Pacific were being convoyed because of the growing
anti-American feeling in Japan.  Early in December 1941, we knew
that it was becoming more difficult for the servicemen to get overnight
passes.  There were three fine Christians on the USS Astoria that
called here.  This cruiser was later sunk in the battle of Coral
Sea and two of those men went down with the ship.  We didn’t
realize then how poorly prepared for war in the Pacific America was at
that time.

Tighter restrictions had hindered some men from coming to our house on
the weekend of December 6 and 7.  One of the fellows, Ray Harper,
worked at Cavite Navy Yard encoding messages.  He owned a car
which he sometimes left with us.  That Sunday as he was leaving,
he said, “I am taking the car to get it greased.  I’ll bring it
back Monday.  If anything happens it will be better here.” 
Then realizing he had perhaps said too much, he dashed off without
answering our questions.  He never was able to return.

At breakfast Monday morning, December 8, we heard that the Japanese had
bombed Pearl Harbor earlier that morning (Manila time).  That
meant war—how soon would it affect us?  Taking the children to
school, I warned the boys that school would probably be dismissed and
that they should get Rose at her school and come right home.  My
schedule was to go to Taytay to work with some of the students on the
grounds for the Philippine Keswick Conference.  With the outbreak
of war, there would be no conference and so the work party was called
off.  Soon we heard bombs had fallen on Baguio.  Just before
noon flights of planes attacked Clark Field, just at a time when planes
had returned form reconnaissance.  Planes were refueling and
pilots eating lunch.  Few got off the ground before they were
destroyed.  Bombers were still waiting orders to attack bases on
Formosa.  We wondered what had happened to Jesse Miller who was
then at Clark.  That night the Japanese bombed Nichols Field, and
from our bedroom window we could see the explosions.

Having knocked out most of the U.S. planes, the Japanese would come in
tight formations, usually about noon.  Coming in from the north
they would turn west above our area and drop down to bomb shipping in
Manila Bay and on across the Bay to Cavite Navy Yard.  Our
anti-aircraft fire was quite ineffectual, as it didn’t have sufficient
power or range.  As we watched one day we heard the whistle of a
falling shell and flattened ourselves to the ground.  It
apparently was an anti-aircraft dud that fell in an adjacent lot. 
Every night there was a complete blackout.  Nobody seemed very
sure what should be done, but American propaganda was that help was on
the way.  So we foolishly thought that soon the tide of battle
would turn against the enemy.

Towards the end of December I received a call from a former ABWE
missionary, Capt. Skolfield.  He had gone back into the U. S. Navy
and had been stationed at Cavite when it was bombed.  He had
salvaged some of the supplies and taken them to an apartment in
Manila.  He told me to take some of them and had given other
supplies to ABWE missionaries.  Filling the car tow or three times
we transferred some of these to our home.  One item was supposedly
a 100-pound bag of sugar but when we opened it, it proved to be salt.

These supplies were very welcome because we had opened our home to
several missionaries stranded in Manila.  Some were on their way
out of China and only got this far.  Others were on ships going on
to India but were caught here.  They were told to disembark, as
the ships would proceed to an unknown destination.  They offered
to sign releases if only they could stay aboard at their own
risk.  They were refused and the ships sailed with their hold
baggage.  After the war was over they learned their baggage
arrived safely in Australia and was in storage there.  For a time
there were 13 of us in our home; so in the place of servicemen there
were these missionaries.

After Christmas the Filipino-American forces retreated to the Bataan
peninsula. Avoiding main streets around Manila, some busloads passed
near us. Oil storage tanks in Pandacan were set afire to prevent the
Japanese getting them. U.S. military supplies that couldn’t be taken to
Bataan were thrown open to the Filipinos. We heard that some men took a
large crate thinking it must be something valuable, only to discover
that it contained the remains of an American waiting to be shipped.
President Quezon and some leading Philippine government personnel,
along with Gen. MacArthur and his staff, went over to Corregidor Island
and the entrance to Manila Bay. This fortress was built to resist and
repel invaders from the China Sea but offered little resistance from
the rear.

Manila was declared an open city on January 1, 1942, in order to spare
the city from fighting and loss of civilian lives. The Japanese bombing
had largely been of military targets. However, in bombing shipping on
the Pasig River they had struck a large Roman Catholic church. This was
put to good propaganda use—pagan Japan with no regard for Christian
Filipinos! This propaganda may have had a bearing later on in the
release of missionaries in Manila from internment. With the Japanese
landings at Lingayen Bay, north of Manila, and Atimonan, south of
Manila, some foreigners headed for what were supposed to be evacuation
points. Some of the missionaries went to Baguio but we decided it was
better to remain in our homes and leave the outcome with the Lord.

On January 2 we saw a truckload of Japanese troops pass on a nearby
corner. We decided to sit tight and await developments. A former
houseboy came with a sack of flour from a warehouse that the owner
threw open to the Filipinos. Much time was spent in prayer together as
a group these days. Psalm 46 was a source of comfort as we realized
that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
One afternoon we saw a truckload of Japanese coming up our street. As
it approached I started towards the door, thinking that as head of the
house I should be the first to approach them. The truck drove on
without stopping. One evening our Filipino neighbor from across the
street came with the information that he had that day seen the Japanese
who had been living next door and they told him they would be around to
pick us up. He suggested I hide out with him or go to the provinces but
these suggestions were impracticable. In my reading Jeremiah 15:21
proved to be a real cheer, “I will deliver thee out of the hand of the
wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.”

The house next door had previously been occupied by a Japanese married
to a Filipino.  They moved there when we did in 1937 and were very
friendly.  Later they moved to another home and their place was
taken by a group of young Japanese men who worked in Japanese bazaars
in town.  Every morning they did their calisthenics before going
to work.  Across from the San Juan Chapel a Japanese had rented a
home.  He spent a lot of time going around, ostensibly going to
play golf.  These were only two examples of how the Japanese and
infiltrated military men and spies in strategic places.

Our former neighbor, Mr. Imamura, was appointed to act as liaison
between the Filipino police and the Japanese military
authorities.  At a later time during the occupation I went to see
him to request his help in regard to Mrs. Bomm who had been picked up
one night and taken to Fort Santiago.  As I waited in his outer
office, I heard him giving a typical Japanese propaganda line and my
heart sank.  Out came a number of Filipino police sergeants and
the receptionist ushered me into his office.  He was most cordial,
saying, “Our countries are at war but you and I are friends.”  I
had occasion to seek his help at other times but went to his
home.  I would go after dark to the back door.  He came out
to the kitchen to speak to me one evening while in his sala; he was
entertaining the top Japanese general!

Santo Tomas University has a longer history than either Yale or
Harvard.  The grounds of this Roman Catholic university were taken
over as an internment camp.  All enemy aliens were to report there
by January 15, so we delayed to the last day.  We loaded up two or
three “carretelas” (the typical Filipino horse rig) and set off,
leaving behind a group of tearful believers.  In Santo Tomas,
American committees had been set up to operate the camp under the
supervision of the Japanese.  We lined up to fill in forms
providing information about our homes, cars and finances. 
Learning that we were missionaries, the American in charge said, “You
missionaries are going to be moved somewhere else today—you may as well
fill in the forms there.”  Actually we were about to be released
as house prisoners so no forms were filled in.  In this way our
car was one of the few that was not confiscated.  Later on, since
we could not use it, we sold the battery and tires.  Then someone
wanted to buy the car.  They brought tires and one evening we
pushed it a couple of blocks to a neighboring house.  Just after
we had it in the other garage a Japanese patrol car went by!

While waiting at Santo Tomas that day, I was called into an office
where they asked me about some who had not yet surrendered.  It
was a relief not to know their whereabouts.  It gave me an
opportunity to glance over the listing of missionaries compiled by the
Japanese.  It seemed to be quite complete and I was surprised that
we were listed as “Plymouth Brethren,” since we don’t use that term
ourselves.  I thought that it was rather strange that not once
during the occupation did the Japanese ask to even see our passports.

The same afternoon all the missionaries, Roman Catholic and Protestant,
were called together to listen to a propaganda speech.  We were
told about the magnanimity of the Japanese, that they came to the
Philippines with the same purpose as ours, to help the Filipino
people.  We were to be released to go to our homes or institutions
and would be given instructions.  We would only be allowed to go
out for religious services, for medical attention and necessary
shopping.  We would have to report to the “Religious Section” of
the Japanese Army who would accept responsibility for us.  Later
on we were given one red armband with a Japanese character indicating
we were enemy aliens.  One to a family, to be worn when we went
outside our homes.  Soon these proved to be a boon. 
Filipinos now knew we were not Germans.  So there was no need to
bargain in the market for we got the best price right away.  Extra
things were put in our basket and on one occasion at least, money was
quietly slipped into my hand by an unknown donor.

So that same evening we were back home again.  The believers at
San Juan rejoiced at our immediate release.  They compared it to
Peter’s released from prison!  We had been release without signing
any statement or making any promises.  Some were not so
fortunate.  Some denominational leaders were called in by the
Religious Section and ordered to sign a prepared statement.  Some
leaders, mostly of liberal theological view, did sign. However, a few,
such as Mr. Fonger of the American Bible Society, Mr. Ed Bomm, and Dr.
Santiago Cruspero (a Filipino) of ABWE refused to compromise their
Christian witness.  Those Americans were imprisoned in Fort
Santiago, which had a reputation for privation and torture. 
Officials from the Religious Section visited some of the churches to
listen to the sermons on Sundays.  Being a smaller group and also
being out in the suburb in San Juan, we were spared such visits.

One of the Baptist missionaries died of illness in the Baguio Camp so
the church of which he was pastor in Manila held a memorial
service.  Up to the last minute he hoped Mr. Bomm would be
released for that.  So when it was obvious that he would not be
there, they asked me to substitute.  The Lord wonderfully helped
in giving a suitable message at such short notice.  On another
occasion there just as I stood up to preach some Japanese officers came
in.  Shortly after, I was called to the Religious Section and the
chief there asked if I would like to be repatriated.  I presumed
it would have included the family but no mention was made of
them.  This offer I declined on the grounds that there were others
who had been stranded here on account of the war.  They should
have the preference, and a few did manage to get away to Shanghai to
sail on the evacuation vessel, S. S. Gripsholm.  Learning that I
was from British Columbia, the chief told me he was raised in the
Fraser River valley of that province.

Each week we had to send in a report of our activities—what services we
attended and so forth.  If we had taught a class or had preached
we had to give the topic of our message.  One week they sent me a
letter, noting that I had preached on such a Sunday and asked for a
copy of my sermon.  It is not my custom to write my sermons,
simply an outline.  Since I had preached in Tagalog I typed out my
message in Tagalog, being fairly sure they would not be able to
understand it!  Shortly there was another request for a copy of my
sermon and “if I had preached in Tagalog, please submit an English
translation.”  Since they wanted so much to read my message, I
decided they would have the way of salvation clearly presented.

They were at that time inviting various Filipino preachers to give a
short message on the radio on Sunday mornings.  Of course, they
demanded that they approve the message before it aired.  They
asked Dr. Cruspero to give a message but rejected his first
manuscript.  It rather amused me that Dr. Cruspero should ask my
advice, an enemy alien.  He wanted to use the opportunity and yet
not compromise his stand for Christ.  We went over the manuscript
and made some changes.  In one place he had mentioned the Empire
State Building in an illustration.  Instead we substituted a tall
building in Manila.  His revised message was accepted.

Services continued in the San Juan Chapel on a regular basis, except
that there were no evening services.  Of course, such things as
open-air meetings or children’s classes outside were not allowed, nor
any literature distribution.  There was a supply of literature on
hand.  As there was a shortage of paper or any kind of supplies,
we sold this as waste paper.  It was no doubt used for wrapping or
making bags in the markets.  So with a dearth of reading material
we hoped that people would even read such wrapping material.