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Led by The Spirit: Interned by the Japanese

The Johnsons were able to plant crops. Through thriftiness, they were able to carry on much longer than they had thought. The camote (sweet potatoes) that they had planted came in earlier than expected and, much to their delight, were quite large. All of them had lost weight in the camp but now, with a somewhat better diet, began to gain again. They also managed to purchase a couple of pregnant goats and looked forward to getting some fresh milk. These goats had never been milked and had to be tied down in the garage before they would submit to the process.

Sunday was a real treat for the missionaries as they were allowed to gather at Bethel Chapel for Sunday worship.

Sunday was a real treat for the missionaries as they were allowed to gather at Bethel Chapel for Sunday worship. Johnson was prohibited from preaching because he refused to collaborate with the Japanese. The sermons, which he had prepared, were delivered by Juan Soriano, one of the young men who had brought food to them in the camp.


Interned Again

The great fellowship notwithstanding, the hardships were severe enough that Johnson wondered if they had missed the will of God by agreeing to live outside the camp. They may have been relieved that they were interned again in November 1942. For some unexplainable reason, however, Appleby and Baldwin were overlooked and were able to remain in their own home until July 7, 1944, when they were also taken back to the camp. While this was probably a simple oversight by their captors, it may have been because they had obtained formal permission to live in their home or perhaps because Appleby, already in poor health, had a severe case of dysentery. The local Filipinos rallied to their side, bringing coconuts, bananas, and other foods as they were able to help the ladies. Most certainly, they were also angels of encouragement and hope. Through their friends, these ladies saw the hand of God.15

This time, the missionaries were interned at Camp Holmes, also in Baguio. Like internment at John Hay, living conditions were desperate. Hunger, disease, and sometimes torture were a regular part of life. At Holmes, however, they did have a school and a hospital, and were able to conduct church services. From the foreigners interned there, came a supply of good teachers, doctors and nurses, and preachers.16

God had answered their prayers in a way the Japanese probably never even noticed!

How much communication was received from the outside world is not clear. At Christmas of 1942, the Red Cross was able to get food parcels to the internees that included a can of Spam, prunes, powdered milk, corned beef, chocolate and other goodies from home. Doris Carlson felt it was an answer to prayer.17 Galley was also able to get letters out to her family, one of which was printed in the Pentecostal Evangel. In addition to reporting on her health and living conditions, she also gave detailed instructions on how to write internees and prisoners of war, suggesting that communication was possible.18 While not dishonest, the letter was quite sanguine considering the circumstances. It must be remembered that the Japanese censored all mail, and she may have wanted to spare her family the knowledge of the details of the living conditions. By contrast, the only letter that Gladys Knowles received during the entire time contained news of her mother’s death.19

On the brighter side, Mildred Tangen gave birth to a son during this time. Getting adequate nutrition was a challenge and there were a number of nursing babies in the camp. The Japanese ignored their pleas for milk, but God heard their cry. One day a cow and her calf were discovered near the fence at the edge of the camp. The cow was close enough that they could milk it! Not only did the cow come that day, it came every day for as long as they were in that camp and provided enough milk for all of the nursing babies.20 God had answered their prayers in a way the Japanese probably never even noticed!

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Category: Church History, Winter 2020

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. Facebook Twitter

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