Doctor John Breman fed by a bird in a Japanese prison



During the recent war Dr. John Breman, of the Unevangelized Tribes Mission of Indonesia, experienced many remarkable deliverances in answer to prayer. Dr. Breman, a Hollander by birth, felt the call of God to serve as a missionary among the Dyaks in Borneo. From 1926 until 1933 the doctor and his wife, and the Christian natives whom he had won to the Lord, won more than four thousand Dyaks to the Saviour. These men were the original "wild men of Borneo." They were savage headhunters. Later, Dr. Breman moved to Malaya, where they labored among the tree dwellers, known as the Sakkais. For the first time these tree dwellers heard the gospel in all its power.

During the early days of the war, Missionary Breman, who was greatly honored by the Dutch government and received the degree Doctor of Science in Missions, labored with the underground movement against the Japanese. Later he was captured and thrown into a Japanese prison. Serving as the chaplain among the twelve hundred other captives, he was at length sent to the horror camp in Java. The Japanese called this particular boatload of prisoners "the most dangerous boatload of them all."

While in the horror camp the missionary was tortured in unbelievable manners with fire and electricity. He was hung by his fingers; a bayonet was jabbed through his stomach, and repeatedly he was beaten in the most terrible manner. For eighty-six days he was confined in absolute darkness. When released from that darkness, he said, "I couldn't talk for three days, only cry."

But during this time the miraculous feeding occurred. The Japanese had decided while he was in this dark, solitary confinement to starve the prisoner to death. Food which they threw him, if it could be called food, was maggot-infested, and so putrid that the doctor knew that to eat it meant death. And when there was no food, day after day a small bird placed food of various kinds, including grain and the native nuts, on the sill of a high wall, barely within reach of the doctor when he stood on tiptoe.

Dr. Breman daily asked God to spare his life and to bring him safely through, and the bird helped answer this prayer.

In the end it was decided to murder a large number of the prisoners. Several truckloads were taken to a near-by field and unloaded. Truckload by truckload the men were blindfolded, lined up by shallow graves which they had been forced to dig themselves, and shot. Every truckload of these men, one by one, was thus executed until it came to the last truck, in which Dr. Breman was. The doctor asked God to perform a miracle and save his life, when all hope seemed to have disappeared. Dr. Breman testified, saying:

"They took us out to be shot in truckloads of twenty. After sixty had been killed, my group was tied hand and foot and brought out to the field, but for some reason they shot over our heads. Then they told us that our sentence had been carried out and that we would be prisoners for life."

When asked if he believed in miracles, Dr. Breman's answer was, "I do, for I am a miracle myself."


From: ANSWERED PRAYER IN MISSIONARY SERVICE By Basil William Miller, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, Missouri. First Printing, April 1951 Second Printing, July 1951 Printed in United States of America