When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. -Galatians 6:10a (NCV)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Missionary Hero

I love reading stories about people. Biographies and autobiographies can be found galore on my kindle. I got this email today and had no idea about this missonary's story or how close the places we are from are. And because I just got back to Haiti after being in the states for 3 weeks and I am trying to settle back in, I am cheating and posting this story on my blog instead of writing one myself. Some may call this lazy but I call it being resourceful ;)

This was written by Don Linn, a preacher in Mt Gilead, OH.


The invitation was offered at Camp Wakatomika near Mt. Vernon, Ohio, during

the summer of 1957 and a young lady by the name of Phyllis Rine answered that call

by saying “I’m here, Lord”. She was answering the call to Christian service wherever the

Lord would lead. The next month she arrived on the campus of the Cincinnati Bible

Seminary on Price Hill and the first words from her mouth were, “I’m here, Lord”. Five

years later she arrived in Stanleyville, (currently, Kisangani in the Republic of Zaire)

then known as the Congo in South Africa and again, she said, “I’m here, Lord”. Two

years later she was gunned down attempting to flee rebel soldiers and again we can

hear Phyllis say as she entered the portals of heaven, “I’m here, Lord.”

Phyllis was born August 15, 1939, to Arthur and Ava Rine who lived on a farm

near Martinsburg, Ohio. Two younger brothers, Larry and Tom were born from their

union. Unfortunately, Arthur died when Phyllis was only four. Then the family moved in

with the maternal grandparents. While living, Arthur worked as a tenant farmer, school

bus driver and milkman.

Her mother, Ava, greatly influenced Phyllis’ life. The saying on the living room

mantle spoke volumes, ‘Only one life ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ

will last.” Ava read Bible stories to the family and faithfully served in the church at

Martinsburg as well as nursing at the hospital in Mt. Vernon. Even though her father

was not a Christian her mother did not let that deter her from teaching her children

about the Lord. In addition, her maternal grandparents, the Haugers, were strong


While growing up, Phyllis was known to be very shy and reserved but also quite

studious. She learned to play the piano and accompanied the congregation in singing

as well as her brothers. The violin was the next instrument she learned to play. One of

her school teachers was heard to say, “I wish we had more students like Phyllis.”

In the fall of 1957, Phyllis arrived at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now known

as the Cincinnati Christian University) to begin her preparation to serve the Lord in

whatever way she could and wherever He would send. She became involved with the

Laurel Homes Church of Christ where she played the piano and taught primary age

children. Visuals and pictures were used to tell the Bible stories to many dark-skinned

boys and girls. Work was necessary to pay her school bills so she cleaned dorms,

worked in the cafeteria and later took a job downtown Cincinnati at the Midland

Guardian Company. Her reputation of being steady and dependable made her a valued

employee. She was involved with the Whatsoever Girls Club on campus, Philothean

Literary Society and World Mission Volunteers.

June, 1961, she joined 54 others to receive their diplomas and enter the world

of service to use the training received to make an impact on our culture. It was during

one of the World Mission Volunteers meetings when Clifford Schaub from the African

Christian Mission spoke about the work being done in the Congo. Phyllis’ heart was

touched and she began communicating with Zola Brown who was a single missionary

serving in Africa. Under the guidance of Dr. Winter, who was Mission’s Professor, she

became acquainted with other missionaries serving in Africa such as the Ron Harshes,

Ronald Butlers, Larry Doggetts, Howard Crowls, and the African Mission Staff.

Seeing that the Lord was guiding her to be a teacher, she enrolled at the

University of Cincinnati to begin the Master’s Program. After being certified by the

Cincinnati Board of Education, she obtained a job at the Riverside Elementary School

teaching kindergarteners. During this time she continued to take classes in the

evening while making preparations to go the mission field. Four churches responded to

the call to financially support her mission endeavors. They were Martinsburg, Bell near

Utica, Bladensburg, and the Milford church near Centerburg.

On September 4, 1962, Phyllis departed to Africa to join in the work with

Schaubs. She worked hard to learn the Swahili language so she could communicate

with the native people. Loving children so much she was dismayed in seeing that many

girls did not see the need of an education and she would say repeatedly, “If we can get

to these girls while they are still young, maybe we can get part of the problem licked

for the future.” Often she would ride her bicycle to a village to gather the children

around to tell the Bible stories and the love of God. It was reported by her co-workers

that she never felt like she was doing enough. One of her co-workers, Zola Brown,

wrote a very insightful book called, “Only One Life” which covers the life and influence

of one dedicated servant who answered the call of Christ.

November 24, 1964, will not be forgotten. It was then that rebel forces came

into Stanleyville and rounded up the foreigners and then began shooting randomly.

The Schaub family was able to escape but Phyllis was hit and bled to death. Leaving the

cemetery following the burial, a comment was heard which said, “Perhaps Phyllis has

accomplished more by her death than by her life.” Rine Hall was built as a Girls’ Dorm

on campus in honor of one who answered, “I’m here, Lord.” Literature for children now

is printed in Swahili so the children and girls, especially, will know about the God Who


Though only 25 when her life on earth was taken, her legacy and example live

on in those who would answer the call of God by saying, “I’m here, Lord.”

Don Linn

No comments: