From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Brother Richard Carters message about the Melanesian

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:16:45 -0400



Brother Richard Carter's message about the Melanesian Brothers

by Brother Richard Carter
Anglican Communion News Service 
To all my family and friends, companions and supporters of the
Melanesian Brotherhood,

[ACNS source: Papua New Guinea Church Partnership] I am writing to let
you know that yesterday it was confirmed by the Australian intervention
force in Solomon Islands that the six brothers who were taken hostage in
April of this year by the militant leader Harold Keke have been killed.
For the last week rumours had been circulating. Yesterday the leaders of
the intervention force met with Harold Keke on the Weather Coast of
Guadalcanal and they were informed that these hostages have been dead
for some time. The six brothers set off from Honiara on the 23rd of
April in order to find out what had happened to Brother Nathaniel Sado
who had reportedly been murdered by Keke and his men. They wanted to
find out if this was true, the reason for his death and if he was indeed
dead to bring his body back to Tabalia for burial. The six brothers did
not return. For weeks the community day and night have been waiting,
hoping and praying for their safety. Making contact with Keke was
difficult but all the reports and news we received was that the brothers
were being kept hostage but were alive and well.

In June the situation became even worse when five novices and two
brothers in the neighbouring district of Babanakira were also taken
hostage. Four weeks later first four of the novices and then two weeks
after that the final novice and two brothers were released. Keke seemed
reconciliatory. He even asked these novices to pray with his group and
preach to him. He sent them back with pigs and shell money. We were so
thankful to get the novices back safely but were worrying from their
stories that none of them during their captivity had seen any sign of
the original six brothers taken. When the novices were released Keke
said he wanted a ceasefire and yet we did not understand why he had not
released the original 6.

Yesterday our worst fears were confirmed. The Melanesian Brotherhood was
officially informed by the Police Commissioner William Morrell that they
had been informed by Keke that all six were dead.

It is hard for such news to sink in. These were six young innocent
brothers who went out in faith and in love in search of their Brother.
It seems too much to bear that they should have been murdered in cold
blood. I would like to tell you a little about each one of them for each
one will be so missed:

Brother Robin Lindsay is our Assistant Headbrother and has been in the
community for many years. He was four years Assistant Head Brother in
Solomon Islands and four years Headbrother in PNG. This year because we
needed someone of his experience so much he put his studies at Bishop
Patteson Theological College on hold and came back to help as Assistant
Head Brother. He has great leadership skills. I call him "the
encourager" because he has time for everyone and helps build on their
strengths. He is known and popular where ever he goes in PNG and Solomon
Islands and even Norfolk in the UK. With his strong handshake and
absolute dedication to his work the community feels in safe and caring
hands whenever he is around. He is brilliant at resolving conflicts and
helping everyone feel valued and a part of the community. He is so
greatly loved, how much he will be missed.

Brother Francis Tofi from the time he was a novice was so bright and
attentive in all his studies. When you meet him you know straight away
that here is someone with a deep spiritual life and gentle wisdom. He
asked constant questions and understood intuitively what it meant to be
a brother. First in Malaita and then on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal
at the time of tension and its aftermath he showed incredible courage.
Here was a brother who was prepared to speak out, to condemn violence
and the use of weapons and protect lives of others even at great
personal danger. There are stories of how he was able to resolve
conflicts and rescue those who were being beaten or in danger from the
rebels. Early this year the World council of Churches offered him a
place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva to study and contribute to a
course on Conflict Resolution. He was so excited about the prospect. He
had become a good friend of mine. I was aware of the possible danger he
was in working for disarmament and particularly because he had not been
afraid to speak out against Keke. But his courage was very great. He
told me he was not frightened of dying in God's service and in his work
for peace. I reminded him that God wants LIVING sacrifices and he had
his whole life ahead of him. He laughed for death never really seems a
possibility in one so brave and full of life. Today we packed his only
possessions in a small grubby black rucksack. A few shirts, a couple of
pairs of shorts, his uniform and some books to return to his family. I
cannot believe he is dead.

Brother Alfred Hilly. He is a young and humble brother, for two years he
has been looking after Chester resthouse in Honiara. Sometimes the
guests find him a bit quiet and vague but he has great kindness: always
giving up his bed and mattress to provide extra room for guests. He
takes particular care of the kids who love coming to the house. He makes
sure they get fed at lunch time and has been helping young Selwyn whose
parents have deserted him, learn to read. This year he trained in
Malaria research and qualified to read blood slides at the local clinic.
This has been so helpful to all the religious communities who bring
their blood slides to him for the fast diagnosis of malaria. And now

Brother Ini Ini Partabatu, naughty and outspoken brave and full of
energy. He is a brilliant actor and became a key member of my dramas and
joined me on the Brothers mission and tour to New Zealand in 2000.
Before joining the community he worked in the drama group of Solomon
Islands Development Trust performing dramas about development and health
issues. Ini as a Brother has been brave to speak out against all
injustice. He even confronted the SI Police Force when he believed their
methods were unjust, brutal or failing to respect the rights of the

Brother Patteson Gatu. He is full of joy and so motivated as a new
Brother. He was only admitted last October and always smiles from ear to
ear when you meet him. The last time I saw him just before Easter he was
telling me about when he was fired at while trying to land on the beach
as well as enthusing about a sermon I had just preached. I was never
quite sure whether he was not teasing! He had such youth and warmth of
faith. Not some narrow religiousity but natural and real and strong.

And Brother Tony, who had no close parental care when he was young and
found in the Brotherhood a real family and home. He developed from a
shy, thin and humble novice into a stocky and bold brother. But he never
lost his simplicity. I remember taking a retreat with him on a desert
island in Lord Howe in which we fended off clouds of mosquitoes all
night. He was easy company and a natural and unassuming friend to many
of the brothers. He showed his courage throughout the tension and
continued to help the disarmament process.

Of one thing I am certain these six men will live on in the hearts and
minds of our community. Their sacrifice seems too great, hard to
believe. The community sat up all last night telling the stories of
these brothers through the night and trying to come to terms with the
enormity of their loss. And yet beneath the trauma there is a peace too.
The knowledge that each of these young men believed in peace and in
goodness. They knew that there was a better way. They were prepared to
oppose violence and to risk much. At the end of the day they stand
against all acts of brutality which are at present disfiguring our world
and bravely, boldly, and with love, lived what most of us proclaim only
from the safety of a Church. Oh how much the World wide Anglican Church
at the moment could learn from their witness.

And when such real life issues are so much at stake in our world is not
this what the Gospel should be?

There is hope. The Intervention Force say Keke is willing to surrender
his guns and even face trial. Perhaps our six brothers will become like
seeds which fell upon the ground and died but will yield the harvest of
peace these islands and our world so longs for.

With love and prayers

Richard Carter

Further information from:

[A photograph of Brother Robin Lindsay is available from:]

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