New Memories of My Father on Fathers Day

During a recent family gathering I had the opportunity to visit with one of my older sisters. She told me a story about my father that I had never heard before.

Mr. Eisman was a teacher at Hillcrest School, the boarding school we attended when my parents served as missionaries in Nigeria. He was teaching there when the Nigerian civil war broke out. Our town of Jos was not in the area where the war took place but there were several mobs of men that roamed around Jos when the war started. These mobs were looking for members of the Igbo tribe, the tribe that had broken away from the rest of Nigeria to form the country of Biafra, thus causing the civil war. I still remember arriving at Hillcrest one morning for school and seeing one of these mobs running down the road that went past the school. They were armed with clubs and machetes and were roaring as they sought out their prey.

The hostel that we lived in was targeted by the mobs because we employed a number of Igbos. It was so dangerous that one night all of us children were evacuated to spend the night at some of the other hostels associated with Hillcrest School. Our Igbo employees were hidden in one of the closets of our hostel with only my father and Mr. Eisman left at the hostel to protect them and keep an eye on things.

As expected, a mob did arrive at our hostel during the night. According to Mr. Eisman, when the mob arrived at the hostel compound he hid behind a door armed with a knife while my father sat in the hostel dining room reading his Bible. The mob never broke in to the hostel but the next morning the mangled body of a man was found lying in the compound in front of our hostel. I never did find out who the man was.

I had never heard the story about how my father and Mr. Eisman had spent the night “guarding” the hostel. That my father would “arm” himself during a time of danger by reading his Bible does not surprise me. He was a man of deep faith. He had to have a strong faith to load up his family of eight and leave his church in Minnesota to head over to Africa to become a missionary.

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