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Missionary Tucker martyred in the Congo

As in the 1940s during World War II, the turbulent 1960s brought danger and death to our missionaries and nationals trying to carry out the Great Commission. One of these was missionary J.W. Tucker, who was in his fifth term in the Congo (later Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo) when he was killed. Tucker’s widow, Angeline, returned to Springfield, Mo., with her three children. She told their experiences in the book He Is in Heaven. She died in 1976. These excerpts are from a story published in the December 20, 1964, issue of the Evangel.

1910s: The early role of the Pentecostal Evangel

1920s: Revival Reports

1930s: A World of news

1940s: World War II: Last-minute deliverance from execution

1950s: Revivaltime premiers on ABC

1960s: Missionary Tucker martyred in the Congo

1970s: Touching lives through Teen Challenge

1980s: Straight Talk

1990s: The Columbine High School shootings

2000s: 9/11

Another courageous soldier of the cross has fallen on a foreign battlefield. Joseph W. Tucker, 49-year-old Assemblies of God missionary, was brutally beaten to death by Congo rebels on Tuesday, November 24, in the pitiless massacre that wiped out scores of white people and hundreds of Congolese, stunning the free world.

“J.W.,” as Brother Tucker was known to his friends, was among an estimated 60 Europeans and Americans who were herded into the Dominican mission at Paulis to receive cruel beatings on the eve of the Belgian paratroopers’ rescue operation. Survivors said the rebels used “clubs and bottles against their victims who had their hands tied behind them.” Their bodies reportedly were thrown into the crocodile-infested river.

We are reminded of Psalm 74:20, which says, “The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” All our missionaries are well aware of this fact. They are not surprised when unsaved men behave like savages. They realize these people do not know Christ; that is why the missionaries went to Paulis — to carry Light to the dark places; to turn men from hatred to kindness; to teach the gospel of Him who, in the midst of torture, prayed for His murderers, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Our missionaries, faced so often with difficult situations, unfriendliness and danger have demonstrated that Christian love suffers long and is kind; that it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Many Congolese have responded to that love in the past and we are persuaded that more will respond in the future. The sacrifices of the missionaries shall not have been in vain.

The other six members of our missionary staff in Paulis were evacuated safely to Leopoldville by air. They are: Mrs. Tucker and the three Tucker children, Johnny, 18, Carol Lynne, 13, and Melvin Paul, 11; and two lady missionaries, Miss Gail Winters of Gooding, Idaho, and Miss Lillian Hogan of Fort William, Ontario, Canada.

Sister Winters and Sister Hogan returned to Paulis, one of the larger cities in the Congo, in 1962 when the strife and the struggle for power that followed Congo’s independence had calmed sufficiently. They were joined late in August 1964 by the Tucker family who were beginning their fifth term of missionary service in that country. Less than a week later, rebel Congolese troops suddenly seized Paulis and the missionaries were completely cut off from the outside world.

Our Fellowship has lost one of its finest missionaries. J.W. Tucker was saved in Russellville, Ark., at the age of 13. After finishing high school he attended Southwestern Bible School at Enid, Okla. (which later moved to Waxahachie, Texas), graduating in 1937. He engaged in rescue mission work and evangelistic ministry in the U.S. until 1939 when he went to the Congo.

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