International Ministries

Mission Moment: Reflection on Mona Ecco Hunt, Missionary to Burma

December 10, 2012 Journal

Mona Ecco Hunt, a missionary to Burma, was among those that went into the Minidoka Internment Camp at Hunt, Idaho in 1942 to minister to those Japanese Americans  who were being interned. Here’s a bit of information about her:

On December 25, 1941, the air raid siren sounded just as everyone entered the school dining room of the English Girls’ High School in Moulmein, Burma. The school had been started by the Baptist Mission in 1871 to educate Anglo-Indian and Anglo-Burmese (mixed European and Asian descent) girls, who used English as their mother tongue. American Baptist missionary Mona Ecco Hunt wrote, “We told the children to take their plates with them, so they ate their Christmas dinner in the trench.” Soon thereafter, just before the Japanese invaded Moulmein, Hunt helped to evacuate all the students and teachers and to close down the school. She then sailed for India and on to America. Hunt taught in the Japanese relocation camp (the Minidoka Internment Camp) at Hunt, Idaho from September 1942 to December 1945. At the end of the war, the last internees left the camp on October 23, 1945. In 1947 Hunt wrote this about the experience: “As there was no hope of my returning to Burma for some time it seemed best for me to get work. I got a position teaching in the high school in the Minidoka Internment Camp at Hunt, Idaho and taught there the three years the camp existed. After school closed in the spring of 1945 I transferred to the Social Welfare Department and helped in the work of relocating the people who needed financial help from the Welfare societies after they left the Camp. Most of us who worked at the Camp believed the entire program a mistake and that the Japanese should not have been removed from their homes but since they were put in camps I am glad I had the opportunity of sharing in the work……In December of 1945 I terminated my work at the camp.”  In 1969 Hunt visited the Peace Memorial on the site where the first atom bomb fell in Hiroshima, Japan. She wrote: “As an American I feel ashamed of what my country did, and I wish anyone who would think of using atomic energy again in war would study these exhibits first.”

I’d encourage you to watch the excellent 13 minute video that American Baptist Home Mission Societies has produced about ministry that was extended to Japanese-American who were interned in the US during WWII. I found it quite moving. You can access the video at: