Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Two Hundred Years of Gospel Missions in China

Robert Morrison (1782-1834), the pioneer Protestant missionary to China, travelled by boat from England to Canton in 1807 with a passion to reach the Chinese people with the gospel. He baptized his first convert in 1814, and persevered in China for 25 years. He immersed himself in the language and culture, and became fluent in the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects. He completed a six volume Chinese-English dictionary (1815-1820) which is still in use. He also completed, from 1819-23, with colleague William Milne, a Chinese Bible translation. His ground-breaking efforts saw less than a dozen direct converts, but he prepared the way for many other missionaries to go. It can be said that Morrison, like the apostle Paul, laid the foundation upon which others built. His pleas helped recruit the first American missionary to China, Elijah Coleman Bridgman. His co-worker Liang Fa (Leang A-fa), 1789-1855, ordained by Morrison in 1823, became the first Chinese evangelist and the first pastor of the Chinese Church in Canton (Guangzhou).

A brief overview of Christian missions in China, before the modern missionary movement, should be helpful. The somewhat heretical, monastic Nestorian Christians had penetrated China as early as the seventh century. They followed the trade routes to Central Asia and reached China in A.D. 635, during the T'ang dynasy, which flourished from A.D 618-907. The T'ang dynasty, paricularily under T'ai Tsung, created the most prosperous and civilized culture in the world. The Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in China in the sixteenth century. Matthew Ricci (born 1552), the first, arrived in 1588. Of course, earlier than this, Marco Polo had reached Shangdu (Shang-tu, near modern Kalgan), Kublai Khan's summer palace, overland, with his father and uncle, in 1274. They had been warmly welcomed, so much so, in fact, that they weren't able to leave until 1292, sailing from, what is now Quanzhou, the southern China port, to, what is now, Singapore, before returning to Venice.

Medical missions have played a key role in China in the modern era. Peter Parker became the first Protestant medical missionary in 1834, and, with others, founded the Medical Missionary Soociety of China in 1835-36. Parker trained his first Chinese medical student in 1836. Fifty years later the famous Dr. Sun Yat Sen studied for a year there (in 1886). Some subsequent, famous, medical missionaries in China were Hudson Taylor, A. J. Broomhall (biographer of Hudson Taylor), and John Kenneth Mackenzie (1850-1888). Dr Mackenzie founded and ran the first government medical school in the Empire. L. Nelson Bell (1894-1973), a Southern Presbyterian, was in China from 1916 until 1941, as a missionary physician and surgeon in, what was to become, by 1930, the largest Presbyterian Hospital in the world. The Hospital was in Jiangsu Province. He became the father-in-law of Billy Graham. Dr. Walter Judd (born 1898), who became active in the Student Volunteer Movement, went to China in 1925 and later became a Minnesota congressman and central figure in post-World War II foreign affairs. Dr. Bill Wallace went to China from Knoxville, Tennesssee, in 1935 and died a martyr for Christ in a Communist prison in 1951. He saved an entire hospital by moving it down the river from Wachow.

After the Opium War of 1840-42, Hong Kong was ceded to the British. The Treaty of Nanking signed in 1843 opened five ports to the West, A flood of missionaries started entering China as a result of these events.. The first and most influential was German missionary, Karl Gutzlaff, who arrived in 1840 to minister in the coastal areas, aroused Europe to China missions, advocated missionaries wear Chinese dress, and translated much of the Old Testament directly from the Hebrew to Chinese.

Mary Ann Aldersley, along with Maria Dyer (who later married Hudson Taylor) was a student of Robert Morrison's Chinese class. Aldersley was on the first committee of the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (SPFEE). She sailed to Djakarta, Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) in 1837 to work with Chinese immigrants, set up a school for girls in Surabaya(Indonesia), moved to Macao in 1841 when Hong Kong was leased to the British, and entered China in 1843. She was the first single western woman to do so. She established a school for girls, which grew over the years It was in in the largest of the port cities to open up to the West, Ningbo, which had a population of 300,000. She had opposed Maria Dyer's marriage to Hudson Taylor in 1858. Aldersley never once returned to England.

William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868), son of a famous Scottish minister, was himself a revivalist used of God in Scotland, England , and Canada. He became the first missionary to China of the Presbyterian Church of England, arriving in 1847. He evangelized in Canton, Amboy and Peking. He travelled and preached widely, adopting Chinese attire, as had his travelling companion of seven months (in 1855-56), Hudson Taylor. He opposed and raised awareness of the evil of the the opium and coolie trades.

James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) arrived in Shanghai in 1854 from England with the Chinese Evangelization Society, as only their second missionary, He wore Chinese clothes. He courageously opened up the interior to the gospel. He travelled extensively in China in spite of ill health. He founded China Inland Mission, now the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. China Inland Mission (CIM) a "volunteer society" was the pioneer or prototype of "faith missions", which sprang up in the late 19th century" In 1866 sixteen missionaries sailed back to China with him from England. By 1891 he led 640 workers in China. He had a policy of not soliciting funds. He saw over 80 of the CIM family, adults and children, killed in the Boxer Uprising. His wife and four children died in China of disease and famine. His wife, Maria (Dyer), whom he married in 1858, was born in China of missionary parents. She died in 1870 at the age of only 33. He died in China in 1905, a month after returning to China..

Timothy Richard (1845-1919) was sent by the Baptist Missionary Society (of England) to China in 1859 developing missionary strategies that challenged many preconceived mission notions of the day. He was an inspiration to the Chinese literati, spurring education, agriculture, industrial, transportation, and trade reforms. He wrote about secular topics, and about Buddhism and the Chinese gods. He was instrumental in the founding of Shanxi University after the 1900 Boxer Uprising. He continued work in China until 1916, three years before he died.

George Leslie Mackay (1844-1902), a Canadian Presbyterian, who graduated from Princeton University, studied under Alexander Duff in Edinburgh, Scotland, went to the island of Formosa in 1872, and served as a missionary and evangelist for 29 years on the northwest part of the island. He married a Formosan. Mackay advocated a self-supporting and self-propagating indiginous church movement there, seeing six churches established. He established training schools and a hospital. He died at age 58.

Charlotte (Lottie) Diggs Moon (1840-1912) went as a single Southern Baptist missionary to China in 1873. She was almost evacuated to Japan in the Boxer Uprising of 1900. She witnessed the plague, smallpox, and famine in Tengchow during the time of a local rebellion. She organized relief efforts. She died on a ship to Japan, after a doctor found her severly malnourished. The Lottie Moon Society is now a major source of Southern Baptist mission funding, having raised millions of dollars for missions.

The famous "Cambridge Seven" sailed for China in 1885 to work with China Inland Mission (CIM), having applied for service with CIM in 1883-84. The most famous of these "student volunteers" was Charles Thomas (C. T.) Studd. He excelled in sports, especially cricket, at Eaton and Cambridge. Some considered him England's greatest cricket player. Studd came from a famous and wealthy family, and was noted for his hard-driving zeal and and, at times, brashness. His dad, and, later, he, had life-changing experiences after attending D. L. Moody's evangelistic services. American evangelist, Moody, visited Cambridge in an 1882 tour of England. Five other of Cambridge's finest athletic and academic students, and one other student, all of wealthy upbringing, travelled around England and Scotland speaking and mobilizing other students, before accompanying Studd to China. One of the seven was Dixon Hoste (1861-1946) who later, in 1902, succeeded Hudson Taylor as director of the China Inland Mission. The remainder of the Cambridge Seven were Montagu Beauchamp, William Cassels, Stanley P. Smith, and brothers Arthur and Cecil Polhill-Turner. Studd gave away his substantial inheritance for the work. After 10 years in China, he helped found the 'Student Volunteer Movement, which mobilized thousands for missions." He also did mission work in India and the Congo for many years. He founded the Worldide Evangelization Crusade (now WEC International) His later life was wracked with controversy, because of his "Gambler for God" intensity.

Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936), a Canadian Presbyterian minister, and his wife Rosalind Goforth (1864-1942), sailed to China in 1887-1888. They suffered many hardships in China, including the death of five of their eleven children, a fire that destroyed their possessions, and Jonathan's near-death in the Boxer Uprising, in which many other missionaries and converts were martyred. The Goforths were very effective evangelists and soul-winners. In the 1908-1909 North China Revivals, God used Goforth mightily. He was also used of God to prepare hearts for the 1932 Shantung Revival, as many Southern Baptist ministers involved in that revival had attended a 1929 conference in Peitailo, China in which Goforth spoke.. The Goforths returned to Canada in 1934, and wrote books which mobilized many others to missions.

In the 20th century, Eric Liddell was born in China in 1902, his parents being Presbyterian mssionaries. He won gold medals in the 1924 Olympics, and then returned to China in 1925. He died in a Japanese internment camp in 1945, with a hemorrhaging brain tumor, the harsh camp conditions probably hastening his death. He is, to this day, considered a hero in China, his former residence being protected by the Chinese government.

Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) of England arrived in China by rail in 1932, joining Jeannie Lawson in remote Yangcheng. Jeannie died, soon afterwards, but Gladys stayed until 1947. She used the Inn to reach many. She effectively opposed the foot-binding of girls. In 1940, during the Japanese invasion, she led 100 Chinese children, for one month, through mountains, to safety. The Hollywood movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, was based on these events. She later, in 1957, went to Taiwan and set up an orphanage, dying there in 1970.

In the Boxer Uprising of 1900, 189 Protestant missionaries (including 53 of their children), and several thousand Chinese Christians were killed. Many were CIM and single women missionaries in the interior. It is estimated that in 1900, at the time of the uprising, 2/3 of the western missionaries in China were women. Another authority, Ruth Tucker, author of From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, estimated that in the early 20th century the missionaries in some parts of China were 1/3 men missionaries, 1/3 married women, and 1/3 single women. She writes that, for instance, in one province, Shantung, in 1910, there were 79 women and 46 men Presbyterian and Baptist missionaries. Another example is from the very small denomination, Seventh Day Baptists, to which my wife and I belong. Misssion work was started in Shanghai in 1850 and hospitals were soon built in Shanghai and Liuho. Over the next 100 years, until the doors closed in 1950, when the Communists took control, there were more women than men missionaries. The Seventh Day Baptist medical doctors there were often women: Dr Ella Swinney (medical missionary in Shanghai beginning in 1883, Dr. Rosa Palmborg (born in Sweden 1867, medical missionary in China, 1894-1940), Dr. Grace Crandall (born 1875, medical missionary in China beginning in 1911), and Dr. Besse Sinclair (began medical work there in 1917). Valerie Griffiths, of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, documents in her book, Not Less than Everything, the key role of the courageous, heroic, pioneer women, married and single, in carrying the gospel to China.

Later well known twentieth century martyrs incuded John and Betty Stam in 1934 and John Birch in 1945. In 1950 the Communists took over China, missionaries were expelled, and persecution of Christians by an atheist state became the norm.

In the 50 years (1950-2000) after the Communists came to power, under adverse circumstances and a hostile environment, the Protestant churches, many being house churches, have grown perhaps a hundred fold, from over 900,000, to over 90 million. About 15 million worship in the state approved "Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches, and the rest, the great majority, in the unapproved house churches. Jonathan Chao, in an article, "Success under the Cross" (reprinted as "China-Growth through Suffering") carefully documents the factors causing this stunning growth. The growing indiginous movement is well exemplified by Philip Teng, of Hong Kong, the son of Presbyterian minister, and a graduate of Edinburgh University in Scotland. He was a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor, educator, evangelist, missionary and missiologist. He did mission work in southern Borneo, Indonesia and helped plant a number of churches. In 1973 he served as president of the Alliance World Federation.

Although hundreds of people groups in China are still unreached with the gospel, the story of the church in China is one of stunning growth under intense hardship. Some estimate that there are more Christians in China than in any other country in the world, even counting the United States. Let us pray that this growth will continue unabated, and will extend widely and mature mightily, so that China, much like Korea, will host missionaries to the rest of the world, including the decadent and post-modern West. And may God receive all praise and glory.

Select Bibliography:

A. Books

Aldersey White, E., A Woman Pioneer in China: The Life of Mary Ann Aldersley, Livingstone Press, 1932
Allen, C., The New Lottie Moon Story
Babcock, Ruby, A Study of Seventh Day Baptist Missions in China, American Sabbath Tract Society, 1925
Benge, Janet and Geoff Benge, Lottie Moon Giving her All for China, YWAM Publishing, 2001
Broomhall, A. J., Hudson Taylor & China's Open Century, Hodder and Stroughton, 7 volumes, 1981-1989
Broomhall, Marshall, Martyred Misssionaries of the China Inland Mission, CIM, 1901
Broomhall, Marshall, Robert Morrison: A Master-Builder
Broomhall, Marshall, The Bible in China, British & Foreign Bible Society, 1934
Bryson, Mrs., John Kenneth Mackenzie: Medical Missionary to China, Chicago: Student Missionary Campaign Library (Feming H. Revell Company), N.D.
Carlberg, Gustav, China in Revival, Augustana Book Concern, 1936
Clarke, William, The Church in China: Its Vitality, Its Future, Council Press
Caughey, Ellen, Some Gave All, Barbour Publishing, 2002 (biographies of Birch and Moon)
Duewel, Wesley, Revival Fires, Zondervan Publishing House, 1995, chapter 35: "Goforth and the North China Revival," chapter 36: "The Great Chinese Harvest," chapter 38: "The Shantung Revival"
Edwards, Lee, Missionary for Freedom: The Life and Times of Walter Judd, Paragon House, 1990
Fletcher, Jesse C., Bill Wallace of China, Broadman Press, 1963
Fulton, A., Through Earthquake, Wind and Fire: Church and Mission in Manchuria 1867-1950
Glover, A. E., A Thousand Miles of Miracles in China. A Personal Record of God's Delivering Power from the Hands of the Imperial Boxers of Shan-si (Shaanxi), Holder & Stroughton, 1904
Goforth, Jonathan, By My Spirit
Goforth, Rosalind, Goforth of China, , Zondervan, 1937
Gallagher, Louis, ed., China in the 16th Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci: 1563-1610, Random House
Griffiths, Valerie, Not Less Than Everything, Monarch Books, Overseas Missionary Fellowship
Hefley, James and Marti, By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, Mott
Hefley, James and Marti, The Secret File on John Birch, Tyndale House Publishers, 1980
Hunter, A. and K. Chan, Protestantism in Contemporary China
Moffet, S., A History of Christianity in Asia
Kwok, Pui-lan, Chinese Women and Christianity 1860-1927, Scholars Press, 1992
Palmburg, Rosa, China Letters, Recorder Press, American Sabbath Tract Society, 1943
Pollock, J., A Foreign Devil in China, (life of Dr Nelson Bell)
Lambert, Tony, China's Christian Millions, Monarch Books, 2000
Latourette, Kenneth, A History of Christian Missions in China, SPCK, 1929
Latourette, Kenneth, History of Christianity, Revised edition, 2 volumes, 1975
Lawrence, Una, Lottie Moon, Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1927
Merwin, Wallace, Adventure in Unity: The Church of Christ in China, Erdmans, 1974
Miller, R. Strang, William C. Burns (in the book Five Pioneer Missionaries, Banner of Truth,
1965, reprinted 1987
Moreau, A. Scott, ed,. Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Baker Books, 2000
Morrison, E. A., Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison, D. D. , 2 volumes, Longman, 1839
Mueller, J Theodore, Great Missionaries to the Orient, 1948. Chapter 14: "George Leslie Mackay"
Neill, Stephen, A History of Christian Missions, Penguin, 1964
Outerbridge, Leonard, The Lost Churches of China, Westminster Press, 1952
Swift, Catherine, Eric Liddell, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1990
Taylor, Dr. and Mrs. Howard, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, Moody Press, 1989
Taylor, Geraldine (Mrs Howard Taylor), The Triumph of John and Betty Stam, CIM, 1935
Thomas, R. Wardlaw, Giffith John, The Story of Fifty Years in China, Religious Tract Society, 1907
Townsend, William, Robert Morrison, The Pioneer of Chinese Missions, London Missionary Society, 1892 edition
Tucker, Ruth, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biogrphical History of Christian Missions, Zondervan Publishing House, 1983
Wallis, Andrew, The Missionary Movement in Christian History, Orbis Books, 1997
White, B., Unfinished Encounter: China and Christianity
Winslow, Carolyn, Tomorrow, Young People's Missionary Society, 1945

B. Periodicals

Mission Frontiers, Nov.-Dec. 2008, The U. S. Center for World Mission, 30:6, Title on cover: 'The Flying Man: China Rediscovers Its Hero". Articles on Liddell, Morrison, Parker, Taylor, Gutzlaff, and Richard. http://www.missionfrontiers.org/

Reformation Today, Nov.-Dec 2000, volume 178. Article: "China- Growth Through Suffering', by Jonathan Chao, p. 3-10.

Reformation Today, Nov-Dec. 2007, volume 220. Article: "Robert Morrison (1782-1830): Pioneer of the Gospel to China," by Bob Davey, p. 23-30


Anonymous said...

Hi -- you helped me to find a huge geneological link to my "2nd Great Grand Aunt": Dr. Ella (Ellen) Swinney, a Baptist medical missionary who opened a hospital in Shanghai in the late 19th century. From my records, she was the first homeopathic physician sent from the US. I have recently taken up tracing my family tree via software programs, and I was stuck on "Ellen" and was not sure if she was the physician who was my grandmother's great aunt. My parents have trunks full of Ella's treasures, so I'm inspired to go through them. Your blog on Google opened this up for me -- a huge THANK YOU!! She apparently was next recorded as being in a hospital for lung infections in 1900 in Pennsylvania.

Ron Davis said...

Yes, your 2nd great aunt, Ellen Francis Swinney, M. D., was a great lady and devoted Christian, and served as a medical missionary to China for 12 years (1883-1895). She was from Shiloh, New Jersey, and then Smyrna, Delaware. (My mother was from Shiloh, and I was born several miles away in Bridgeton, the county seat of the same county, Cumberland County. Shiloh still has one of the biggest Seventh Day Baptist churches, though only a small town. I have many relatives there. She must have gone to that church too.
She sailed from New York Nov. 3, 1883 to San Francisco, and left San Francisco Nov. 7, 1883 on the steamer, "City of Tokio", and arrived at Shanghai Dec. 7, 1883. She headed up the Seventh Day Baptist medical mission in China for a time and also served as a Sabbath school Superintendent for the S.D.B. Church of Shanghai, that had about 100 members. The hospital was built in 1884 for $600. In 1885 she had 8,122 patient visits for the year, 6,966 of which were paying patients. She had a bout with fever and because she had no assistant yet, the hospital had to be closed for 2 months. Later, in China she became very ill with influenza, which went into pneumonia, and she almost died. She needed a surgery there, perhaps to drain off an effusion from the infection. Tuberculosis was common there then, so she may have had that, but I am merely speculating about that. She then returned home accompanied by Susie Burdick, another SDB missionary, sailing into San Francisco to recuperate and to help her aging mother. She stayed with her mother and with her brother, Dr. C. O. Swinney, both in Smyrna, Delaware, after resting for a week or two in Oakland, CA and Chicago.
For the record she was born September 25, 1840, and died November 14, 1900. She left almost $400 in her will for Alfred University,in western New York, then a Seventh Day Baptist school. She and her brother, Lucus R. Swinney, who later became a minister, were previosly employed to teach at a school near Quincy, Pennsylvania, where ther was a German Seventh day Baptist Church. General Robert E. Lees on the way to Gettysburg, with his army, went through Quincy, and the school had to be suspended for a time. This would have been before Ellen had become a doctor or had gone to China.
Hope this helps a lot with your geneology research. Have two books and a booklet om this information. Have 2 copies of the booklet, and the booklet has a picture of Dr Swinney, so you might contact me if you would like the booklet at: rcdavis16@sbcglobal.net

Catherine Rehart said...

I'm researching my great and uncle, William Fyfe Laughton and Agnes Laughton. They were missionaries in the China Inland Mission in 1885. I found their names in Hudson Taylor's book. They were married in Shanghai Cathedral and had four children--all born in China. They fled during the Boxer Rebellion and returned to Glasgow, Scotland. How can I find more information on their years in China? Thank you for your help.

Catherine Rehart

Anonymous said...

Catherine Try these-perhaps on free Inter-Library loan:
Broomhall, Marshall, The Jubilee Story of the China Inland Mission, London: C.I.M., 1915.
Broomhall, Marshall, ed., By Love Compelled, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1936.
Broomhall, Marshall, Martyred Missionaries of the China Inland Mission; With a Record of the Perils and Sufferings of Some Who Escaped, London: Morgan & Scott, 1901
Broomhall, A. J., Hudson Taylor and China's Open Century, 7 volumes (last 3 volumes woud have more the end of the 19th century).
Broomhall, A. J., The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor's Life and Legacy, 2 (vol 2): 1868-1990, Carlisle, England: Piquant editions, 2005.
Hope you find something
By God's grace,
Ron Davis

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it is pretty impressive that someone can start from the ground and make a dictionary.

Margot Harris said...

Thanks Ron for this blog. Our family just finished reading the YWAM biography of Hudson Taylor, which prompted my interest in finding out more about SDB missionary work in China. I knew of Dr. Crandall and Dr. Palmborg's work from Sabbath Recorder articles and talking with SDB historian. I will enjoy reading your blog.