Masters, Philip died 25 Sep 1968, Indonesia


Phil Masters, author of the Daily Sentinel’s Missionary Dairy, is reported missing in the interior of West Irian, Indonesia.

A missionary for the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Phil and his family have spent some six years in the primitive areas of what was once the island of Dutch New Guinea. The island was taken over by Indonesia over three years ago.

Mrs. Masters is the former Phyllis Wills, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Wills, Seney.

It was reported by Phil’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Masters, Mapleton, were notified Monday morning by telegram that Phil is overdue from a trek into the interior.

Although all the details have not been learned, it is believed Phil and another missionary went into the jungle to visit a neighboring village and haven’t been heard from since.

Word that Phil was missing first was reported this noon on the Sioux City FM religious radio station, KTFC, after a prayer request had been telephoned to the station by Lewellyn Larson, Kiron farmer. The Tom Masters and another son, Dwight, are members of the First Baptist Church of Kiron.

KTFC—FM processes the tape recordings used by KTFC and LeMars radio KLEM of Phil’s Missionary Diary. KTFC manager, Don Swanson, told the Daily Sentinel the station broadcast the prayer request for Phil’s safety on its noon programming.

Mrs. Tom Masters in a telephone conversation with the Daily Sentinel early this afternoon said she has no idea how long Phil has been out on the trek and when he was expected back.

“We just know a search is in progress,” Mrs. Masters said. “Phil and this other missionary were out looking for a new location for an air strip. We may still get a letter this week telling more about that. We just don’t know any of the details.”

Mrs. Masters said a cablegram had arrived in Des Moines last Friday about the missing missionaries, but somehow the names had been confused.

“They had checked about 50 different people,” Mrs. Masters reported. She said the family had no idea it was Phil until the telegram arrived this morning from Phyllis.

Phil has been working in an area which has been called “cannibal valley,” according to the Sioux City radio station manager.

Phil and Phyllis three years ago finished four years of their first tour of duty in West Irian. Throughout the entire period, Phil mailed his Missionary Diary to the Daily Sentinel regularly, complete with many photos of the natives and their activities.

Phil told of his missionary work and his efforts to learn the language of the stone age tribesmen and translate the Bible.

The couple and their children spent a year on furlough in LeMars and throughout the area presenting programs to churches and civic groups.

They returned to the island two years ago for a second 5-year tour.  The children have been attending school at Sentani and a new house at Korrupun has been under construction.

Phil’s efforts with the natives also have included construction of air strips.

Throughout the last year Phil’s reporting has slowed in its regularity, but only recently a diary arrived by mail for September through December 1967, along with the photo of the family standing near the plane.

~Source: The LeMars Daily Sentinel, September 1968


Mrs. Ron Severson, LeMars, has received a news release from the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Philadelphia, with more information about Rev. Phil Masters.

The Severson family was one of the interested in LeMars area families in the work of Phil Masters.

The union reported the deaths of two of its missionaries in the eastern highlands of West Irian, former Dutch New Guinea, Wednesday, Sept. 25. The date had not been reported previously.

Rev. Philip Masters and Rev. Stanley Dale were killed instantly in an ambush by hostile tribes while on an evangelistic trek between the RBMU outposts of Koruppun and Ninia, the missionary union source said.

The area is approximately 165 miles inland from the north coastal base of Sentani.

A state department report indicated that a search party had located the site of the massacre and a memorial service had been held Oct. 3. No substantial remains of the bodies had as yet been found. A search is underway for the bodies and pursuit of the culprits is being pressed, according to the missionary union.

Stanley Dale and Philip Masters were both veteran missionaries of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, an evangelical missionary society with missionaries in six countries.

The society is one of several mission groups working in the interior of West Irian among tribes just emerging from a stone-age culture. A phenomenal response to the message of the Gospel has been witnessed among some of those warring cannibal tribes.

Notably, in the Swart Valley alone, since 1960, some 8,000 of the Dani tribe have become Christians, weapons and fetishes have been discarded and literacy has become widespread.

Response to the Gospel message has not witnessed the same degree of response among all West Irian tribal groups. The Yali-speaking people of the Ninia and Koruppun areas, where Masters and Dale were slain, have responded slowly.

The tiny Christian congregation at Ninia shepherded by missionary Dale and his wife had been repeatedly threatened with annihilation by hostile tribes from the Holuk, a neighboring valley.

Two years ago in June (1966), two young evangelists, themselves just converted out of savagery, were murdered while witnessing for Jesus Christ, according to the release.

Dale was at that time nearly killed in a ambush while investigating the deaths, and received five arrow wounds. The Ninia Christians have stood firm in the face of these threats, instigated by the practicers of witchcraft, who are heavily concentrated in this area.

Dale has characterized the people of the Heluk as furtive, crafty, hateful and resentful of the intrusion of the Gospel upon their way of life. It is presumed that Dale and Masters were moving through the valley home of these people of the Holuk when attacked.

Philip Masters was from Mapleton. A graduate of Cornell College and Prairie Bible Institute, he first went to West Irian in July of 1961, together with his wife and family. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis and their four children—Crissie 13, Curtis 11, Rebecca 9, and Robert 5.

Mrs. Masters has elected to remain on the field for the present, the news release said.

Stanley Dale was from Australia, and likewise leaves a wife and four children. During his ministry at Ninia, Dale had completed the translation of the Book of Mark into the local dialect, and was working on a translation of the Book of Acts just before his death.

One of the last communications received by the home office from Mr. Dale carried this significant comment---“I have a burden for these places where the way is hard. Please continue to pray for the people of the Holuk that they may break free from their fetishes and declare themselves wholly on the Lord’s side. Please continue to remember us in prayer, for we still carry some heavy burdens that are not burdens of work.”

“The Masters have had a difficult time (at Koruppun) and need much prayer. Unfortunately there is not much interest in places where visible results are small. They and we, though, trust that something will be done in our areas to bring glory to God even though we be unknown.”

In its news release, the missionary union solicits prayer for the bereaved families, and for the infant churches at Ninia and Koruppun which now may face serious threat of annihilation by their enemies.

~Source: The LeMars Daily Sentinel, unknown exact date, Fall of 1968


A son, Timothy Philip, was born March 31, at Karabaga, Indonesia, to Mrs. Philip (Phyllis) Masters, the former Phyllis Wills of rural LeMars.

A cable was received early Maundy Thursday by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Wills, Seney.

The brief note stated the baby weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces. There were no details, Mrs. Wills said.

She said her daughter now lives at Karabaga, a somewhat larger station in West Irian. A hospital is located there.

Rev. Philip Masters, a missionary, was killed by hostile tribesman Sept. 25, 1968, and Mrs. Masters, also a missionary, decided to remain in Indonesia with her family. Her other four children are Curtis, Robert, Crissie and Becky.

~Source: LeMars Daily Sentinel, unknown date, April 1969


MAPLETON, Iowa---Special:  A Siouxland area resident, who had been serving as a missionary in Indonesia, was reported Monday to have been killed in that country.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Masters of Mapleton were notified by cable that their son, the Rev. Philip Masters, 36, was killed in an ambush in the wilderness.

It was first reported that the Rev. Mr. Masters and another missionary, the Rev. Stan Dale, had not been heard from since leaving on a 12-hour walk into a mountainous area to locate a new airstrip for their mission.

After a search party went out, word came back here that the Rev. Mr. Masters had been killed.  The fate of the other missionary was not made known.

The Rev. Mr. Masters was serving his third year of a four-year term as a missionary for the Regions Beyond Missionary Union organization of Philadelphia. His mother said he had been serving in Indonesia for more than six years.

His wife, the former Phyllis Wills, and their four children, Crissie 13, Curtis 12, Rebecca 9 and Robert 4, also are in Indonesia and were reported safe.  Their station has been Koruppon, which is located on the island of West Irian, formerly Dutch New Guinea.

Mrs. Masters’ parents are Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Wills who live on a farm north of LeMars, near Seney.

A little over a year ago the family returned to this area for a visit. The Rev. Mr. Masters was a graduate of Westmar College, LeMars, and served as a minister at Ireton, Iowa. He was a member of the Bethel Baptist Church in Sioux City.

In recent years, the Rev. Mr. Masters had written numerous articles about his work in Indonesia.


MAPLETON, Iowa---The death of the Rev. Philip Masters, a 36-year-old Iowa missionary serving in New Guinea, has been confirmed by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Masters of Mapleton.

The parents were notified late Monday that their son was killed in an ambush last Sunday while on a trip to establish a new mission in the mountainous region of West Irian, New Guinea.

The Rev. Mr. Masters’ wife, Phyllis, 35, informed the missionary’s parents of their son’s death. The Masters, who have been in New Guinea six years, have four children living there.

The Rev. Mr. Masters will be buried in New Guinea, his parents said.


MELBOURNE, Australia---A missionary from Mapleton, Iowa, and his Australian colleague were stabbed to death by a stone-age tribe while searching for a new airstrip site in Indonesia, it was reported Thursday.

The interdenominational Regions Beyond Missionary Unions said Iowa-born Philip Masters, 36, and Stanley Dale, 53, were slain in an ambush in the highland jungles of West Irian, close to the Paua-New Guinea border. The bodies were found Monday.

Frank Manning, secretary of the mission office in Melbourne, said the embassy in Jakarta was asking the Indonesian government for details of the stabbings.

Manning said Masters’ widow, Phyllis, and their four children were at Koruppon, site of a mission station, along with Mrs. Dale and three of her five children. Both families went to West Irian in 1961.

~Source: The Sioux City Journal newspapers, unknown specific date, September 1968

~From his funeral program:
   Rev. Philip Jesse Masters
   Born: April 9, 1932, Sioux City, Iowa
   Died: September 25, 1968, Irian Barat, Indonesia
   Memorial Service was held in Sioux City, Iowa, on Sunday, October 27, 1968

Memorial Gravestone Link--Center Cemetery, Monona County, IA




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