Paul Carlson

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This article is about the American medical missionary. For the American historian, see Paul H. Carlson.
Dr. Paul Carlson
Born March 31, 1928
Culver City, California
Died November 24, 1964
Stanleyville, Congo
Education George Washington University
Occupation Medical Doctor (MD), Missionary
Known for Martyrdom during the Simba Rebellion
Spouse(s) Lois Carlson Bridges
Children 2

Paul Carlson (March 31, 1928 – November 24, 1964) was an American physician and medical missionary who served in Wasolo, a town in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He originated from Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Southern California, which is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. He was killed in 1964 by rebel insurgents after being falsely accused of being an American spy.[1]

Carlson was born in Culver City, California, the son of Swedish immigrant Gustav Carlson, a Southern California machinist, and his wife Ruth. He graduated from North Park University in 1948, and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Stanford in 1951, and finished medical school at George Washington University in 1956.[1] After finishing medical school and five years of internship in Redondo Beach, California, he met and married nurse Lois Lindblom of Menominee, Michigan.[2]

In 1961, Carlson followed the call of the Covenant Church to serve God as a missionary doctor. He arrived in Congo and began working as a medical missionary for six months in the Ubangi province.[3] In December 1961 he returned to Redondo Beach but continued to talk of returning to the Congo because of its great needs.[4]

In July 1963, along with his wife, son Wayne, and daughter Lynette, he returned to the Ubangi region of the African nation known at the time as the Republic of the Congo. Activities included working in the 80-bed hospital and leper colony.[5] During this time, Carlson earned the nickname Monganga Paul, a name revealing a close and loving relationship with the local Congolese people. This work continued until the political unrest of the time reached them. In August 1964, rebels captured Stanleyville, now Kisangani, and the Carlson family crossed the Ubangi river to seek refuge in the Central African Republic.[6] Carlson, however, remained committed to his hospital and work in Wasolo, and he returned.

Dr. Carlson assists a victim being evacuated

This final return placed him in the middle of the political unrest of the time, and he soon fell into the hands of the communist-inspired Congolese rebels of the Simba Rebellion.[7] His home was looted, the hospital and other buildings were damaged and two of his staff members were shot.[2] Under the unstable leadership of Christophe Gbenye, the rebels accused Carlson of being an American spy and took him as a hostage to Stanleyville. Carlson was held there and was mentally and physically tortured. In November 1964, Gbenye announced he would execute Carlson, prompting the U.S. government to begin negotiations for his release.[8] In Stanleyville, Carlson joined the American consul as a captive of the rebels. see Captive in the Congo: A Consul's Return to the Heart of Darkness (Naval Institute Press, 2000) Upon a breakdown in negotiations paratroopers were flown in and the rebels panicked. On November 24, 1964, some Simbas soldiers opened fire into a crowd, and Carlson and several others ran to a wall in hopes of escaping.[5] Before Carlson scaled the wall, he urged a clergyman to go first, and as Paul was climbing the wall, he was shot and killed by rebel gun fire.[2][9]

Legacy[edit]

He became known as the "Congo Martyr" and was featured on the covers of both Time and Life magazines. His tombstone, in Wasolo, bears the inscription "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."— John 15:13[2] Shortly after Carlson's death, Lois and others formed the Paul Carlson Medical Program with the goal of raising money to support the Loko hospital. They expanded with agricultural programs to teach nutrition, agronomy, and microenterprise.[10] In 2000, the Paul Carlson Medical Program was revitalized and now operates under the name the Paul Carlson Partnership. The Paul Carlson Partnership is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization with a mission that focuses on investing in health care, economic development, and education in Central Africa.[11]

After her husband's death, wife Lois penned the biography "Monganga Paul" in 1965.

Carlson Park within the neighborhood of Carlson Park, Culver City, California are both named in honor of him. (The Twilight Zone television episode entitled "You Drive" was filmed in this neighborhood one year before Carlson's death.)

The Evangelical Covenant Church has produced a documentary entitled "Monganga"[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hamilton, Joan O’Connell. "Paul Carlson". Stanford Alumni Association. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dr. Carlson: Rebel With Noble Cause Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug 28, 1965, James H. Johnston
  3. ^ Bridges, Lois Carlson (2004). Monganga Paul. Chicago: Covenant Publications. pp. 37–38. ISBN 0910452938. 
  4. ^ Bridges, Lois Carlson (2004). Monganga Paul. Chicago: Covenant Publications. p. 47. ISBN 0910452938. 
  5. ^ a b Hamilton, Joan O'Connell (September 1990). "Paul Carlson". Standford Alumni Association. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ Bridges, Lois Carlson (2004). Monganga Paul. Chicago: Covenant Publications. pp. 107–117. ISBN 0910452938. 
  7. ^ Bridges, Lois Carlson (2004). Monganga Paul. Chicago: Covenant Publications. pp. 141–148. ISBN 0910452938. 
  8. ^ "Rebels Demand Negotiations on Fate of Dr. Paul Carlson". Eugene Register-Guard. November 19, 1964. p. 3A. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ Bridges, Lois Carlson (2004). Monganga Paul. Chicago: Covenant Publications. p. 152. ISBN 0910452938. 
  10. ^ "History". Paulcarlson.org. 1964-11-24. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  11. ^ The Paul Carlson Partnership. "Mission and Distinctives". Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Carlson Family Visits Former Home in Wasolo | Covenant Newswire Archives". Blogs.covchurch.org. 2004-11-21. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 

External links[edit]