Paul Carlson (d. 1964)

Mark Fackler

READ : Acts 4:23-30

While you stretch out your hand to heal. (v. 30)

Lois Carlson and the children escaped to the Central African Republic. When he sent them off to safety, Paul, a missionary doctor, still had several escape routes if Simba rebels came too close to the hospital at Wasolo, deep in the Congo, where the family from California had lived for a year.

Dr. Paul did not fit the profile of a hero. Quiet, committed to healing, he had set up a regular family practice after med school but finally admitted, “I can’t stand hernias and hemorrhoids any more.” The family signed on with the Christian Medical and Dental Society for a six-year term in the Congo, where he would practice medicine and help build a church.

But when the Simba came, all escape routes were cut off. Captured with others, Paul was accused of spying and sent 300 miles to Kinshasa while rebels bargained for his freedom. Under constant guard, Paul was marched many times to face a firing squad—blindfolded, kicked, pushed, hit, but never shot. Two months later, Belgian paratroopers dropped outside the city in a daring rescue. In the chaos, Paul was shot by the Simba, minutes before rescuers arrived.

Time and Life magazines told the story of the self-giving doctor who almost got away. At his alma mater in Chicago, a memorial remembers the quiet doctor who followed God’s call.


In desperate trouble, Lord, give your peace.