Schmucker, Paul H.

1906 - 1967
First Missionary to the Ibans

Rev Paul Harold Schmucker (1906-1967) was born on December 28, 1906 in Milbank, South Dakota, USA. He was educated at Baker University and the College of Emporia, Kansas. From 1930, he served as a missionary in the Methodist Church and was assigned to the faculty of the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore, at that time part of the Straits Settlements, under the Board of Foreign Missions of the American MEC (Methodist Episcopal Church). 

He was later transferred to Kuala Lumpur, Sitiawan and Klang in the Federated Malay States (Malay Peninsula), serving both as teacher among Chinese students and as pastor of the local churches in those centres. He married Rhetta C. Foote in Singapore on December 26, 1932. Mrs Schmucker was a WFMS (Women’s Foreign Missionary Society) missionary. While Schmucker was in the United States on furlough in 1936-37, he took up an extensive study course in the industrial and agricultural fields in preparation for the Dayak work later.

In 1939, at his own request, he was transferred to Borneo and began a ministry to the Dayaks who had for more than a century been known to white men as among the world's fiercest head hunters. He worked with another missionary from Indonesia, Rev Lucius Mamora, stationed in Kapit, upper Rejang River, for two years. He had gathered many of the children into Christian schools, and many of the adults into church services. 

Rev Schmucker took the opportunity to prepare himself and got the degree of Bachelor of Divinity with distinction at Garrett Biblical Institute, during the time of enforced furlough because of the Japanese occupation of Borneo.

Rev Paul H. Schmucker, 60, died on January 27, 1967 after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow. He served 20 years as a missionary in South East Asia and had been head of the social studies department at Penn High School, Mishawaka, Indiana, United States. A middle school named after him, Schmucker Middle School, was built in 1968. Funeral services were held at Grace Church, with burial at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park.

Mrs Rhetta C. Schmucker passed away in 1977. They had two children.


© 2016 by SCAC. This article is reproduced with permission of the Board of Christian Literature, Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, The Methodist Church in Malaysia, publisher of Missionaries to Sarawak: Footprints in the Land of Hornbills 1 & 2. Edited and compiled by Wong Meng Lei. Translated by Christina Tiong, K. T. Chew, and Chang Yi.