Monday, February 20, 2012


Paul Lindholm was born, the youngest of 14 children, to a farm couple near Ortonville, Minnesota. He and his wife, Clara, ultimately came to serve as missionaries on the Philippine Island of Negros.

During World War II the island was invaded and held by the Japanese. For 2 and ½ years Paul and Clara (and their four children) moved among the hideaways in the mountains and caves of the Island, fully aware that if they were captured, they would be thrown into prison or killed. The family had no communication with loved ones in the United States. They lived on diminishing food reserves and food provided by friendly villagers. Health was always a concern. Paul contracted malaria. His 8 year old son nearly died of dysentery. On one occasion their 2 and ½ year old daughter had a leech attached to her eyeball. They removed it by carefully applying salt to the leech.

During these difficult times Paul Lindholm was nevertheless driven to share the gospel in the villages. He performed weddings and funerals and ministered to the needs of the villagers throughout the area. He did so at great risk to himself.

Eventually a submarine was sent to rescue the Americans from the Island. The family, along with others, made their way by boat to freedom. But when it came time for the family to board, Paul Lindholm turned back. He made sure his family was safe on board, shared a teary-eyed farewell, and returned to his ministry.

In his book, “The Rescue: A True Story of Courage and Survival in World War II,” Steven Trent Smith recounted what happened: ‘Aren’t you going down, Mr. Lindholm?’ Abcede (the opposition forces commander) asked sternly, now knowing full well he would have one more passenger on the banca (boat) back to Basay. The minister replied simply that his job on Negros was unfinished. Wall Mazzone, standing nearby, was deeply moved by the words of the missionary. ‘Here’s a guy,’ he thought, ‘who has freedom in the palm of his hand and he walks away from it to carry on his work.’ It was a very meaningful moment in Mazzone’s life. But Abcede was not pleased that his earlier arguments to persuade the missionary to leave had failed. ‘I have orders from MacArthur to send you to Australia.’ The Reverend Lindholm quietly replied, ‘Sir, I have orders from headquarters higher than MacArthur’s to remain here with your people.’ Abcede shook his head and smiled. Turning to his adjutant he said, ‘Ben, these are the kind of people worth fighting for.’”

Upon the return to the United States, Clara Lindholm and the children spent the rest of the war near relatives in Oregon. For six months, they didn't know if Paul had survived. They were reunited in July 1945 and continued missionary work in the Philippines and China.

In recognition of his wartime work, Paul received an honorary doctorate in 1951 from his alma mater, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He died in 1997. Singing at his funeral were Filipino friends, including a member of the family that had hidden and protected the Lindholms. Clara later celebrated her 100th birthday at a Palm Springs, California, nursing home. She was likewise serenaded by Filipinos.

No comments: