April 4, 2010 - Martha S. Boss

Martha Susan Boss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on January 31, 1913.  She lived with her family in Stettin, Germany, from 1914 to 1926, at which time they returned to Ohio.  In 1928, Martha was confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Cleveland, where she had also been baptized as an infant.  Already in her young years, she was interested in music, people, and the work of the church.

 A year after finishing High School, Martha began to study nursing at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and in 1936, graduated as a Registered Nurse.  She also trained as a deaconess at the Central Training School (and Motherhouse) in Fort Wayne, completing her education in 1938. 

Though Martha was extremely interested in the possibility of mission work, there were no available overseas placements, and she accepted a placement as supervisor of the nursery at Lutheran Children’s Home in Addison, Illinois. 

 From 1942 to 1945 Martha served the poor and needy at Cleveland Lutheran Gospel Center.  While there, the LCMS Mission Board issued Martha a call to China, to commence with the end of World War II.   In China Martha worked in a clinic and hospital, and provided assistance in the nurses’ training school, even providing daily devotions for the students.  When political unrest made staying in China unsafe, Martha and other LCMS missionaries evacuated to Hong Kong in December 1949.   For the next 23 years, Hong Kong was the center of Martha’s service to her Lord.  The “Deaconess Martha S. Boss Commemorative Book,” recently published by the Social Services Committee of The Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod, describes the scope of Martha’s work in Hong Kong:

 “In Hong Kong much of Martha’s time was devoted to the Haven of Hope Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Rennie’s Mill Camp. She served not only as nurse, teacher of nurses and advisor, but also was in charge of the funds provided for the Sanatorium by the Wheat Ridge Foundation. 

 “Martha was also actively involved in the Hong Kong Lutheran Handicrafts Project.  This operation provided employment for the hundreds of destitute refugees.  … Martha was engaged in other activities.  She started a nursery for day care of pre-school children of working mothers. …  She also conducted women’s Bible classes, teaching the women to become ‘Bible Women.’ … She did what she could.  She worked where she was needed.  She looked for ever new ways of helping the people she loved.”

 On August 4, 1973, while on furlough in the United States, Martha and three others died in a car accident.  Martha’s death was a huge shock to those back in Hong Kong who were looking forward to her return.  The memory of her loving service is still alive in the hearts of innumerable individuals whom she touched with the Word of God and practical acts of mercy.  About twenty years ago, the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod completed the building of a Martha Boss Community Center in her beloved memory, dedicated to ”mission-related services to the needy and marginalized in society.”  Today the church identifies Martha’s loving mission work as having contributed to the successful formation of the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod!

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