Fifty years on: reflecting on the lives of Minka and Margaret

On 23 April 1974, fifty years ago, armed guerrillas kidnapped Margaret Morgan and Minka Hanskamp from the leprosy clinic in the remote region of South Thailand where they were working as nurses with OMF. Their backgrounds were very different, Margaret with a Welsh mining ‘chapel’ upbringing; Minka, twelve years older, from a Dutch missionary family. In the year or so before the kidnapping, they had become good friends, working and sharing a home together. Such closeness would stand them in good stead during the terrible ordeal.

The appalling news travelled fast: intercession was heartfelt and widespread, and for the most part full of hope. Almost a year later, Margaret and Minka’s bodies were found in the mountains – two of many OMF martyrs who have lived and died for Christ.

As we celebrate their lives and thank God for them on 50th anniversary of their deaths, we are reminded that Margaret and Minka’s remains a relevant story.

Today, the world is still troubled and violent. Politics remains divisive. Christians are still being kidnapped for ransom. One condition for Margaret and Minka’s release 50 years ago remains a contemporary political demand: that the ‘Christian world should stop any support to Israel against Palestinian people.’

Today, we still face personal fear. Margaret in particular, when preparing to leave for Thailand, talked of needing to overcome her fear, among other things, of illness. This does not get easier for any of us.

Today, we still face the challenge of apparent unanswered prayer. Sooner or later, no matter how mature our faith, we must come to terms with the most perplexing reality that God’s ways are not our ways.

And today, OMF continues to testify to God’s faithfulness. Jesus is still king, and he leads forward, even in seemingly hopeless situations, both in our individual lives and in the wider
church and mission family.

This story is told in more detail in Phylis Thompson’s 1976 book ‘Minka and Margaret’, available second-hand.

Written by Marion Osgood

Marion is OMF (UK) Archivist and the author of three Christian biographies, including a forthcoming book about Jennie Hudson Taylor. Find out more about Marion at: https://www.marionosgood.com/about-marion

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