O, that Thy Name may be sounded
Afar over earth and sea,
Till the dead awaken and praise Thee
And the dumb lips sing to Thee!
Sound forth as a song of triumph
Wherever man's foot has trod,
The despised, the derided message,
The foolishness of God.
Jesus, dishonoured and dying,
A felon on either side--
Jesus, the song of the drunkards,
Jesus the crucified!
Name of God's tender comfort,
Name of His glorious power,
Name that is song and sweetness,
The strong everlasting tower.
Jesus the Lamb accepted,
Jesus the Priest on His throne--
Jesus the King who is coming--
Jesus, Thy Name alone!
C. P. C. [In "Hymns of Tersteegen, Suso and others," by Mrs. Bevan.]
I HAVE tried to divide the work of the native Bible-women and the English ladies of the C.E.Z.M.S. "Foreign women," enquirers call them--"dear ku-niongs" is the Christian name for them; but among the heathen they are known and feared as "foreign devils."
But God has so joined together these two agencies, that in telling the story of His work among the women of China they cannot be "put asunder."
In the foregoing chapter about the native Bible-women, much has been told in Mrs. Stewart's own words, of the need--and how that need has been partially supplied--of English sisters who will come and work shoulder to shoulder with their less-favoured sisters in China.
But, oh, how she longed for reinforcements! Mrs. Ahok used to wonder why all the "ku-niongs" (unmarried women) could not go to China. I have heard her question a young lady:
"You love Jesus?"
"You go China?"--with an eager, longing look, followed by one of disappointed hope, when a shake of the head gave a decided refusal. Alas! Mrs. Ahok did not understand that all the "ku-niongs" in England who think they love Jesus have not sought and obtained the promised power to make them witnesses, first "in Jerusalem," and then in ever-widening circles, "to the uttermost parts of the earth"! (Acts i. 8).
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart prayed often and earnestly, not only for missionaries, but that those only who were really called, and specially prepared by God, might go.
Not quantity, but quality. "Not by might" (margin, army) "nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
1890. When first Miss Foster began to visit the family of Mr. Ahok, a rich Chinese merchant at Foochow, there seemed little hope that the good seed would ever find an entrance into their hearts. Mrs. Ahok herself, her mother, mother-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and step-daughters, were all worshipping idols, and quite satisfied with them, and, as they say now, without any desire for God. Mr. Ahok alone was seeking for light, and was anxious that his family should have some teaching. English was the only thing his wife had any wish to learn, and she consented, for the sake of this, to read the Bible with Miss Foster, and to permit her to have a Bible-class at her house once a week for the other members of the family.
Long and patiently Miss Foster laboured, sowing the seed, but with apparently little result, till at last illness visited the family; one little child died--a grandson of Mr. Ahok's--and little Charlie, Mr. Ahok's adopted son, was so ill that the Chinese doctor said there was no hope of saving his life. Miss Foster went to the house and offered to stay and nurse the child herself. They were unwilling at first, but at last consented, thinking it would not make much difference what the foreign lady did, as the child must die in any case. However, it pleased God to spare the life of the little one, to the great joy of the family, and from that time a decided change took place: much of their former bitterness and opposition passed away, and Miss Foster was looked upon as a real friend.
Still some time elapsed before any signs appeared that the seed had fallen into good ground. In answer to prayer, a little son was given to Mrs. Ahok, as told in the little book called a "Remarkable Answer to Prayer," and from his birth he was given to God and called the "Christian child." Not long afterwards Mr. Ahok was himself baptized, then his wife and daughter, and one daughter-in-law; and later on Mrs. Ahok's own mother, who, of all the family, had been the most bitterly opposed to Christianity, became a true and earnest believer in the Lord Jesus, and showed even in her face the great change that had taken place within.
I wish I could give you, in Mrs. Ahok's own words, her account of this great change in her life, as she told it to a small gathering of Chinese women to cheer and encourage them. What I remember of it is as follows:--
"I never thought of God, nor had any desire after Him, but in His great love and mercy He had compassion on me, and sent one of His servants to me to my own home. It was Miss Foster.
''At first I could not understand her message, and my heart was all in darkness, but by-and-by the light began to shine; it was, as you have often seen at sunrise, first a faint light when nothing is seen distinctly, then the sun itself appears, and in a flood of light all is clear.
"So it was in my heart when Christ came in. All my doubts and fears vanished, and I found a joy and peace I never knew before. But my difficulty then was to confess that I was a follower of the Lord Jesus, a member of the despised band of Christians. I felt I would rather die than acknowledge it, and was tempted to think I might worship Christ in secret.
"But this also I took to the Saviour, and told Him my weakness and fear of confessing I was His servant; and"--she concluded, her face beaming with joy--"He took it all away, and I now feel neither fear nor shame, and it is my greatest joy to go to the houses of my rich friends, and plead with them to give up their idols, and find the same peace that I have found in serving Christ."
Mr. Ahok was the first to manifest his anxiety about their rich friends in the city of Foochow, and he invited Miss F. to go with him to visit the ladies. She did so, and was kindly received in many houses, and begged to come again and tell them about the Saviour of whom they had never before heard. But she was not able to make much use of the opportunities thus offered her, for she was soon obliged to leave China on account of ill-health. She had seen enough, however, to convince her that the ground was ready for the seed, if only there were sowers ready to go forth.
The C.E.Z.M.S. were then entreated to extend their pity to the women of China as they had done to "India's Women," and their answer was to send out a lady (Miss Gough), who quickly learned the language, and began to visit the ladies in the city with great energy. Mrs. Ahok accompanied her in these visits, and introduced her to many families of high rank and position. Owing to Miss Cough's teaching and influence, Mrs. Ahok herself also rapidly advanced in knowledge, and became as earnest as her husband in seeking to bring the knowledge of the Gospel to her friends and neighbours.
Miss Gough, however, was not permitted to see much result of her "seed-sowing "in Foochow. She was called away before long to another field of labour, and now, as Mrs. Hoare, she is working as earnestly for the women at Ningpo as she formerly did at Foochow.
The C.E.Z.M.S., however, did not give up China, and soon sent out two ladies (the Misses Newcombe) to fill Miss Cough's place; and, about a year later, they were followed by two more (Miss Bradshaw and Miss Davies).
The Misses Newcombe's special work is in the country, in the Kucheng district, about 120 miles from Foochow, where they have more on their hands than they can possibly accomplish, and Miss Bradshaw and Miss Davies have been obliged, up to the present, to give most of their time to the study of the language; still they have done what they could to keep up the visiting among the ladies in the city, accompanied by Mrs. Ahok. Miss Davies hopes to take up these Chinese ladies as her special work, and Miss Bradshaw writes encouragingly of the openings they are having. She says: "When in the city on Saturday we had many invitations to large houses, which we had been definitely praying for, as Mr. Ahok said we must wait to be asked before going to large houses. One very rich family had heard of us, and asked to be allowed to come to our house to see us. On Monday we were invaded by seven very grand city ladies, escorted by gentlemen on horseback. They stayed all day; they had never heard 'The Old, Old Story,' and never seen foreigners. Mrs. Ahok was greatly cheered at such a perfectly new door being opened; she and Chitnio talked turn about, and we had plenty of singing."
Mrs. Ahok also writes to the same effect:--"My mother-in-law died last year in August, as you have heard, and while I was in mourning Chinese custom would not allow me to go among the higher class of people in the city; they would not like it, and it would hurt their feelings; but I have been once into the'city with Miss Davies to see the ladies you used to call upon with me. Their tribe is Ling; they were enquiring about you; I hope soon to go among these people again in the city. I often go to the houses near my house. Yesterday Mrs. Ling (Chitnio) and I went to visit some people; they were very nice, and quite interested in what we told them about this doctrine. Several of them asked us to come again, so we are going this afternoon. Once a week I have Prayer Meetings at the Hospital with the sick women there. We pray God to bless the words that have been spoken, that they may bring forth fruit to His glory. My mother is quite happy since she became a Christian; she lives next door to me, and it is easy for her to come to me when she likes. My nephew's family also know the doctrine very well, only they have not come out, but some of them come to the Prayer Meetings very often. I hope that before long they may come out and confess Christ before all men."
As we trace the story of Mrs. Ahok from the beginning, ought we not to praise God, and take courage for the future? Paul may plant and Apollos water, but it is God alone who gives the increase, and in answer to prayer He can and will bless these ladies in Foochow city, and make them chosen instruments to spread the knowledge of His Truth.
Mrs. Ling writes: "I know you are all praying for China, but please pray specially for Foochow city; though the walls are great and the people strong, we have a King who is stronger than they; He can break down those great walls; we must only have great faith in God. He can do it. There is nothing too hard for Him. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
So far we have been only thinking of the work among the rich Chinese, but God is also working among the poorer classes; indeed in China, as elsewhere, we see how true are the words of the Apostle, uttered long ago, "I lath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith." The seed sown, though apparently in hopelessly dull and hard hearts, He has caused to spring up and bear fruit. The School for Women at Foochow and the Boarding School for Girls have been the means of sowing the seed. At Kucheng, too, there is now a school for both women and girls. During Mrs. Banister's absence in England the elder Miss Newcombe takes charge or the women, and the younger the girls. They also visit the Bible-women at the country stations, occasionally spending a few days or a week in one of the villages, where they have splendid opportunities of giving instruction to the Christians, and of talking to the heathen women who come in crowds to see the foreign ladies.
Let me give you some instances of the results of this "seed-sowing," From our Foochow School already sixty women have gone back to their heathen villages, carrying with them the knowledge of the truth: sixteen of these are Bible-women, giving up their whole time to work among their heathen sisters, others are wives of the Catechists at the mission stations, and others, again, are wives of the ordinary Christian men in the country congregations, who are glad to come for a time to learn a little of God's Word, and many of these have been the means of great blessing on their return to their own villages. I should like to tell you of one of these dear women who has now passed away to be with the Master she so faithfully served.
Many years ago a woman came to us from a distant country village. She had heard of the doctrine, but knew nothing very clearly about it. She longed to learn more, so she begged her friends to allow her to go to Foochow to be taught. They tried to shake her resolution by frightening her in every way they could, but, finding her determined, at last consented to let her go. A short time after her arrival some men and boys came from her village to pay her a visit to see. if anything dreadful had happened to her, but, finding her well and happy, they returned home a good deal re-assured.
The dear old woman spent some time in our school, learning most diligently the difficult Chinese characters, and when she had finished her time, she went out as a Bible-woman. She worked at first in the Ning-taik district, and afterwards became matron of the Women's School at Fuh-ning, superintended by Mrs. Martin, and she was there remarkable for her earnestness about the souls of all the women with whom she came in contact. Some little time ago she was taken ill, and after a time of great bodily suffering, went in to "see the King." Mrs. Martin writes of her: "Perhaps you have heard of our great loss in the death of Mrs. Ling Ming Ching. I may say I daily miss her; it is just six weeks since we laid her to rest in our hill Cemetery looking over the sea . . . She suffered excessively, but always said, 'Sing-ta cheng k'i-k'wi, sing-tie ping-ang,' 'the body is very miserable; the heart is peace.' "
One other case I might mention. A young woman came to the school by the wish of her husband, who was then a student in the college. She was a heathen, and was very angry with him for becoming a Christian, and was bitterly opposed to Christianity. Mrs. Ling writes of her in a letter recently received: "The Siu-gie huoi-sing is wonderfully earnest. Do you remember when she came to the Women's School she was unconverted, and not willing to learn; wanted to go home very much; and then her little boy got very ill, and Miss Gough sent for Dr. Corey to see him? She was very sad for her child, and we prayed with her in her room that God would spare his life, and that his mother might give her heart to Christ, and train him up for God. He did answer those prayers; the child is quite well, and the mother is much nicer, cheered, and brighter, growing in grace every day. She asked for baptism, and was baptized, and now she is very earnest, and likes to go out whenever the Bible-woman goes.
"She has two children; sometimes she leaves them at home, and sometimes she takes one with her. In the evening she helps her husband in the subjects for examination at the Conference."
Our Annual Meetings for the Native Female Workers, who come from the country stations, where they are working often amid difficulties and discouragement, are times of refreshment and blessing to all.
Of one of these meetings, Mrs. Lloyd, now in charge of the Foochow Women's School, writes: "Our Conference is just over, and you will be glad to know that we had some happy meetings with the women. . . . Fourteen women came from the country, besides Lydia, and one or two more from the city. Mrs. Chung Seng came; we thought it would be well for her to do so, as she has the Women's School at Hing-hwa. It was very cheering to see so many of the old faces again, and I think they all enjoyed being together."
Mrs. Ling also sends an account of some of the meetings. She says: "We enjoyed the meetings very much, and I think they have done us all good, and quite refreshed us for work again. All the Bible-women up in the country have done their best; they all gave accounts of their work this year. In some places they have had very nice opportunities; some women have been brought to Christ, but in others the heathen said many bad things to them. Do you remember Ong-ai? She is the best of all. She has visited many places, and has had a very good time, and several women have become Christians, and are willing to unbind their feet. I am very thankful to see her so earnest. She used to go with Miss New-combe, Mrs. Seng-mi, and two Christian women, to visit."
Thank God the "good seed" is being sown, and God is blessing the sowers, and is sending forth more of His children to join in this great work. Two new workers were added to the number last autumn--Miss Apperson, who has had two years' experience of work in Ireland in connection with the Irish Church Missions, and Miss Johnson, whose three years' training as a nurse will make her help specially valuable in opening up new work. She was, therefore, chosen to work in the Kiong-ning district, in the north-west of the Fuhkien province, a large tract of country containing several million inhabitants, but where as yet the C-M.S. have only two missionaries.
One other lady, Miss Nesbit, has joined the band of workers, sent to China by friends in Australia, in connection with the C.E.Z.M.S., making the number seven, or rather did make seven, for since I began to write this paper a telegram has come from China, saying Miss Bradshaw is even now on her way home, as she had been suffering in her health for some time. Six ladies! And what is the extent of the work before them? Foochow city, with its half-million inhabitants, would seem in itself more than enough. We should not think six lady workers too many for one of our great cities at home, with all the other countless agencies at work in them; but besides the city there are villages innumerable within easy reach, and beyond, on the north and south, three large districts, Lieng-kong, Lo-nguong, and Hok-chiang, where the women are longing for teachers. Then toward the north-west the immense district of Ku-cheng, with its large city, and numerous towns and villages; Ping-nang district, almost equal to it in size; and beyond these again the great Kiong-ning Prefecture, with its seven counties, almost all still in utter heathen darkness.
Can only six be spared from home to bring the Gospel to these millions of Chinese women? Must hundreds of thousands pass into eternity, and never hear of our Saviour's great love in dying for them, because the followers of Christ are not willing to take up the Cross and follow in His footsteps? The path He trod led down step by step from the Father's throne to the place of a servant, and at last to "death, even the death of the Cross," and thus He brought salvation to the world, and we cannot faithfully follow Him without sacrifice of some kind.
May some at least who read this paper willingly offer themselves to follow in the footsteps of our Blessed Master, and give themselves, their lives, if need be, for the salvation of the heathen. The Lord is still pleading, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Will you not joyfully accept the invitation, saying, "Here am I; send me"? looking forward with hope to the fulfilment of the glorious promise, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Some extracts from letters written by Mrs. Stewart in 1894 and early in 1895, show very clearly what she felt about the dear missionary sisters already in the field, and her earnest desire that others might join them.
"KUCHENG, February 16, 1894.
"Benjamina Newcombe and L. Bryer left us yesterday; Miss Codrington and Miss Tolley started this morning for Sa-iong. I wonder if I told you about A. Tolley going there.
"Sa-iong is a town about a day's journey from here. About a year ago it was opened as a Z.M.S. station. Miss Codrington, F. Burroughs, and Maude Newcombe, went to live there.
"The people were most friendly, and the openings for work excellent.
"Miss Codrington is just beginning a girls' day school, and a class for women.
"Maude Newcombe, however, moved on to a large town called Sang-iong, half a clay's journey. She found such readiness to hear, that she has spent some months there alone.
"Now she wants F. Burroughs to go and live there with her; R. has consented to their working there for one year, and then they must move on to a more destitute place! We have so few ladies we cannot afford to let them live within half a day's journey of each other!
"Miss Weller has the girls' school . . . and visiting in the villages around.
"A. Nesbit has the babies--eighteen of them--and one section of the district to visit, which means about twelve stations where there are catechists, and each of these centres for other towns and villages simply endless.
"Lucy Stewart has another section about equal in size, Elsie Marshall another.
"Leaving only Annie Gordon for the whole of Ping-nang! Besides all this there are women to be taught here, and R. much wants help in teaching in the boys' school. Twenty-five boarders we expect next term, and each boy is to- pay $6 a year. So we are coming on in self-support, are we not?
"The girls too are making a beginning: they are to give $i a term. So people cannot say they become Christians for what they get!''
In another letter dated April 30, 1894, als° from Kucheng, she tells again to another friend about Sa-iong, telling how Miss Codrington has been living there for a year.
"The opportunities for work there are also most encouraging.
"She has a day school for children, and is welcomed in almost every house in the place. In five villages round good work is springing up, and she has lately had a very good 'Station Class.' . . . She gathers women anxious to be taught and keeps them three months, giving them their food only. She began with six women, and she says all these six have expressed their desire to follow Jesus, and have witnessed bravely in their homes. Two have already unbound their feet and two more are preparing to do so.
"Annie Gordon (a really first-rate little missionary--we like her greatly) has just come back from spending a month in the Ping-nang district.
"At Dong-gio a most interesting work is going on.
"About fifty women come regularly to the services. We have had a Bible-woman there who has taught them a good deal, but you can fancy what such women must need--' line upon line, precept upon precept.'
"Annie Gordon had a most happy time there. Nine women came daily to be taught, and she had more invitations than she could accept to go to their houses to see them. Dong-gio is about a day's journey from here northward. A day further on, still going north, is another town called Dong-kau. Robert spent a Sunday there, and found the people so open for the message that he asked Miss Gordon to go on there for a few days, which she did, accompanied by a Bible-woman, and they had a splendid time. We are going to send the Bible-woman there for a month, and then Miss Gordon will go again and make a longer stay.
"We have twenty-four boys in the school, who pay $6 a year. I take the head class every morning for an hour and a half. Such nice lads they are. I do enjoy teaching them.
"We have no women's school this term. [A house was built soon after. The money having been sent by friends, through her mother, Mrs. Smyly.]
"A number of women come to Sunday-school and church, and from the villages all round invitations come--more than can be attended to. In the city (Ku-cheng) the openings seem endless."
From another letter, dated Hvvasang, August n, 1894, we give an extract:--
"We are so looking forward to dear Hessie Newcombe coming back in the autumn. Every one loves her, and she is a good influence wherever she goes. Do pray that the Lord may send more workers. . . . We simply don't know how to plan the work for next winter with our small numbers."
In a letter dated Kucheng, January 2, 1895, she again pleads for more workers to a friend greatly interested. Mentioning again about the ladies and their districts, she says:--
"We have two at Sang-iong, quite out of reach; two more a long day's journey from us.
"Then we have four who make Kucheng their headquarters, but they are seldom here more than a few days at a time--at least, three of them; the fourth, Miss Weller, has the boarding school, with fifty-four girls, and the babies too, now Miss Nesbit has gone on furlough. Each of these girls has an area of about 300 square miles! Annie Gordon, indeed, far more; she is the only lady-worker in Ping-nang.
"Next term we hope to have the women's school open, with about twenty women to be taught, and I have the boys' school to a great extent on my hands, as Robert is so constantly away. So you see we have plenty of room for more workers, and we are continually laying the matter before the Lord."
The home for babies mentioned in the letters was begun by Miss Hessie Newcombe, and supported mainly, I believe, by her friends.
The inmates are the little girl-babies doomed to death by their parents, who think they are of no value. But He who said, "suffer the little children to come," put it into the hearts of some of the "ku-niongs" to receive the rejected mites, and bring them up to love the Saviour who was despised and rejected for our sakes.
Mr. Simpson, that sweet singer of New York, when travelling in China, saw the body of a little baby-girl floating face downwards in a canal. I venture to quote some of his stanzas.
May God write the touching appeal on all our hearts.
"Only a little baby girl
Dead by the river side;
Only a little Chinese child
Drowned in the floating tide.
If she had only been a boy,
They would have heard her cry;
But she was just a baby-girl,
And she was left to die.
So they have left her little form
Floating upon the wave:
She was too young to have a soul,
Why should she have a grave?
Yes, and there's many another Iamb
Perishing every day,
Thrown by the road or the river side,
Flung to the beasts of prey.
Is there a mother's heart to-night
Clasping her darling child,
Willing to leave these helpless lambs
Out on the desert wild?
Is there a little Christian girl,
Happy in love and home,
Living in selfish ease, while they
Out on the mountains roam?
Think as you lie on your little cot,
Smoothed by a mother's hand;
Think of the little baby-girls
Over in China's land.
Ask if there is not something more
Even a child can do,
And if perhaps in China's land
Jesus has need of you.
Only a little baby-girl
Dead by the river side;
Only a little Chinese child
Drowned in the floating tide.
But it has brought a vision vast,
Dark as a nation's woe;
Oh! has it left some willing heart
Answering 'I will go'?"
"Kucheng, Foochow, China,
"November 20, 1894.
"I have been wishing to tell you something of the work of your ladies in the Fuhkien province, which I have myself seen in the past year.
"My wife and I reached Foochow from Canada just a year ago, and before coming up to our inland station we spent a week at the Treaty Port of Foochow.
"Here we found five of your ladies hard at work, three of them living at the Z.M.S, 'Olives'--Miss Mead, Miss Strong, and Miss Stevens. To the first-named is committed the work among women in the city of Foochow. There are in the city about half a million people, and she is the only one of your ladies that can be spared. She has rented a small house in one of the main thoroughfares; in the lower part of it she has a Girls' Day School, and in the upper part she spends four days out of each week, returning to the 'Olives' for the other three days. In the city she finds a great number of houses open to her, more than she is able to visit. The women receive her very gladly, but their husbands too often, on finding their wives being really influenced, take fright, and forbid further visits. There are great possibilities in this work, but it has peculiar difficulties, and calls for your prayers.
"Miss Strong's sphere of work has been the Women's Training School in Foochow. She has had generally as many as twenty women, almost all from the Hok-chiang district, the other more distant districts having their own institutions.
"No work is more important than this of training women--fitting them to be themselves teachers--and Miss Strong-has devoted herself to it with the greatest energy, and, I may say, courage; for, owing to her failing eyesight, she has often been tempted to give it up, but has yet bravely held on till, alas! the doctor would allow her to stay no longer in the country, and she has returned home, every one in the Mission hoping it may be but for a time.
"The third inmate of the 'Olives,' Miss Stevens, sent out by the Tasmanian Y.W.C.A.--Mrs. Fagg, formerly one of our missionaries here, being one of the leading spirits in that association; unable to return to the work she loved so much, she has sent out already two substitutes, and we are grateful. Miss Stevens divides her time between village work on the Nantai Island, and attending to the needs of the up-country sisters, who now number more than twenty, and who get all their home correspondence, stores, etc., etc., through her. What time she has left from these she gives to visiting in the large Foochow hospital.
"In Foochow you have also a Girls' Boarding School, rapidly increasing in number, under the charge of Miss Leslie, with whom Miss Lee is living while learning the language. This little school is intended to reach the upper-class children whom Miss Mead is able to influence in the city, and some do belong to this class, though not all. The rule is for them to pay the greater portion of the expense of their food and clothes, but Miss Leslie is sometimes obliged to relax a little. From about twenty children last year, it has increased to nearly double that number now, and who can tell what good may come from the messages these children will bring back to their homes, dark heathen homes, in that most sinful city, Foochow?
"You have two more workers in Foochow who must not be forgotten, Miss Barr and Miss Chambers. They are stationed in the native hospital, which is under the care of Dr. Rennie. Although it is not a Mission Hospital, Dr. Rennie gives the ladies full scope for influencing the patients. Were it actually a Mission Hospital, they could not have more freedom in speaking to and teaching- the inmates. Although they only reached Foochow last March, they are able to make their ideas known in Chinese very fairly, and when I saw them the other day they told me how happy they were, and what a splendid sphere of work they found theirs to be. On their arrival, at Dr. Rennie's suggestion, a Sunday service was commenced, and now so many come it is often hard to find room for them. On Tuesday, too, there is a service, now conducted by Mr. Bannister; and our old friend, Mrs. Ahok, holds a weekly meeting for the women patients in the room where her good husband used to get the men together. I ought to have said that I found Mrs. Ahok giving much assistance to Miss Leslie. Her house is close by the school, and every day she takes a class of the girls, and is also instrumental in bringing the greater number of them to the school.
"The next district, north of Foochow, where you have ladies working, is Lo-ngnong. Here your new house, at a village called Uong-buang, is just completed, and I think will be one of the most suitable in the Mission for the purpose. It is entirely native in its external appearance, while within it is slightly altered from the ordinary Chinese building. It will take in three ladies easily, and the entire cost, including furniture, will not exceed £80. Miss Hook and Miss Cooper are just about moving in, and it is intended that your new lady, Miss Wedderspoon, should join them. Miss Hook has already been itinerating frequently through the district, and speaks of it as very happy work, and full of opportunities for usefulness. Up to the present there has practically been no itinerating by ladies in that important district. There are a good number of new converts, but the women have had nothing done for them. Mrs. Martin, whose death the whole Mission so deeply regret, had a Women's School. This was an excellent institution, but beyond this there was nothing, for there were no ladies to take up the work till your Society came to its aid two years ago.
"Travelling south from Foochow, between two and three days' journey, you reach Hing-hwa. In this district you have two stations, the one at Dang-seng, and the other, a day and a half distant, at Sieng-iu. This district is unique among all the districts of the Mission, for it is practically self-supporting, there only being at present one catechist paid from Mission Funds, the other catechists being supported by the Christians themselves, who have put up their own places of worship, and who flock to them on Sundays in large numbers. The opportunities for work among the women at these two stations of yours is quite wonderful. Miss Hankin has written telling you of it. She, with Miss Witherby, at Dang-seng, have given most of their time that they could spare from learning the language to itinerations through the surrounding country, and holding weekly classes for instruction. Now they are about to start a Women's School, where Christian women will be trained, and then sent back to their own villages to work among their countrywomen, in the first place entirely unpaid: possibly later on one or two may be selected as specially fitted for the post of Bible-woman. The Society has excellent premises here, and recently Miss Hankin's friends have provided funds for the building of the Women's School.
"Your other station in the Hing-hwa district, Sieng-iu, is occupied by Miss Lloyd and Miss Tabberer, both from the town of Leicester, and here, too, a Women's School has been started in a small way. Next year it is to be enlarged, and the expense will be borne by a good friend in the cause in Leicester.
"Three days' journey west from Foochow is our station of Kucheng, to which is joined the district of Ping-nang, the two together covering an area equal to about half the size of Wales, and as populous as the rest of China. In this region you have now two fixed stations, Kucheng and Sa-iong, a long day's journey separating them and two other stations, which for the greater part of the year have ladies in them.
"Kucheng.--Here Miss Nisbet is in charge of the Foundling Institution, which takes in poor little girl-babies cast off" by their parents. The numbers have increased, till we had to give notice no more could be taken in. Miss Nisbet gives nearly all her time to mothering these little things. There are in all about thirty, some of them out at nurse.
"There is also a large district allotted to Miss Nisbet, covering some 200 square miles, with little bands of Christians dotted here and there through it, the women sorely needing looking up and teaching, but they can get very little. Another institution here is the Girls' Boarding School, in charge of Miss Weller. This, too, has so increased that, though the school was enlarged considerably last year, it is now again quite full, and this, too, in spite of a new rule by which they must each pay a fixed portion of the expenses, and also must all of them unbind their feet. There are now close on sixty of these girls, and if they fulfil the hopes of their teachers, they will do much towards elevating and Christianizing the country.
"I ought to say that the Foundling Institution was built at the expense of an Irish clergyman, and is being supported entirely by individual friends. And so this Girls' School was erected, and is supported in a similar manner, neither institution drawing anything from the Society's funds.
"The three other ladies who regard Kucheng as their headquarters are Miss Gordon, Miss Marshall, and Miss Stewart. The last-named is still working for her examinations, and when she has got through them, her work will be in the country, in the western section of the district. Miss Gordon's station, where she spends the greater part of the year, is Dong-gio, the Mission chief centre for the Ping-nang district. This great district, or, as we would say in England, county, has no other lady worker but this one, and I need not say that though she works ever so hard, she can but barely touch what is waiting to be done. At that one station of Dong-gio there is a usual attendance of eighty or ninety women at the Sunday services. We have to thank Rev. H. B. Macartney for this valuable missionary. I only hope he will be able to send us some more like her.
"Miss Marshall's work is also in the country, only returning now and then to Kucheng as headquarters. Her section lies north of Kucheng, and covers more than 300 square miles. She has several centres in this region, where she stops for a few weeks or two months at a time, collecting the women together, and visiting from house to house. The plan is for the sisters to travel in twos, accompanied by a Bible-woman and a Christian servant, and to put up at chapels where there is stationed a married catechist. Just now she is at a place called Sek-ce-du (with Miss Saunders, of the Australian C.M.A., who is stationed with us while learning the language), and a letter has come in to-day from her, telling of the great encouragement they are having in that place, which hitherto has been utterly dead, although we have again and again endeavoured to arouse an interest. Thank God for these dear sisters! Wherever they go God gives His blessing.
"Their secret is quiet unwavering trust in the Saviour by their side, and He does not fail them.
"Your other fixed station in this Kucheng district is Sa-long, where Miss Codrington and Miss Tolley are located, the latter still learning the language, but at the same time doing many useful little bits of work. I took the Bishop here on his recent confirmation tour, and he seemed specially impressed by the good work he saw doing.
"The chief feature in Miss Codrington's work is her 'Station Class.' This is a new departure in our Mission, and she is the first to try it. The idea is to gather a class of women from neighbouring villages, and keep them for three months at a time with her in her house, teaching them day by day, assisted by a well-instructed Bible-woman, the great fundamental truths of Christianity, and the chief incidents of the Bible, and then sending them back to their homes, to be voluntary workers among their people.
"It was thought by many that three months' teaching would be of little use for these ignorant minds, but experience has shown quite the reverse. I examined one of her three months' classes, and was delighted at their answering, so utterly different from the ordinary untaught women. They had learned not only a number of facts, but they had learned to think, and it was a delightful surprise to find how thoroughly they understood the truth, and how intelligently they were able to .answer. Jp
"Then besides the 'Station Class,' Miss Codrington visits regularly the surrounding villages within a radius of six or eight miles, sometimes travelling even further, and holding little classes in these places, and thus Sa-long, from being so hopeless a station that we had actually withdrawn our catechist from it, has now a congregation of from fifty to a hundred, and the interest is steadily increasing. There is a little Girls' Day School here too, daily taught by Miss Tolley, and they answered well at their examination.
"Ten miles still further east, across the mountains, lies the town of Sang-long, and here Miss Maud New-combe and Miss Burroughs have been working for a year. Here, too, have 'Station Classes 'been held, a Girls' School established, and villages visited, just as I have described at Sa-long, and visible and wonderful success has in the same way followed. The work is really done in their little room upstairs, where the two sisters kneel together so many times a day.
"Miss Newcombe's furlough is due, and she has not been very strong, and many think she should take a rest; but the Christians hearing of it, have drawn up petitions, one of which they laid before the Bishop, begging that she might stay on among them yet another year, and I rather think she is going to yield. I trust it may not be at the expense of her health. So far from European intercourse, one would suppose their lot must be a sad one, and yet, like the other sisters, they firmly maintain that they never, even in the dear home-lands, had before such happy work. 'Go . . . and lo, I AM WITH YOU always,' accounts for this otherwise inexplicable fact.
"There only remains to speak of the far North-West, where Nang-ua is the Mission centre for your ladies. It is four days' journey over high mountains from Ku-cheng. I visited them at the beginning of the year, and found there Miss Johnson, Miss B. Newcombe, Miss Rodd, Miss Bryer, Miss Fleming; they have also among them a Miss Sinclair, who has come from England independently, and is making herself useful in various ways. These devoted ladies are living as nearly like the native women as possible; no knives or forks are seen in the house. I am told there is one knife kept for any unhappy guest who cannot manage with chop sticks, and though the locality is far from a healthy one, and our C.M.S. missionaries have one after another felt the effects of the malaria, your ladies have wonderfully maintained their strength. You know the kind of life they lead, visiting from village to village, sometimes at long distances from home, putting up, not at chapels or Christians' houses, for alas! there are none, but in the native inn, or the house of some hospitable heathen woman; and God is using them. It is truly invigorating to the soul to sit down and listen to these devoted ladies telling of the spiritual work they have themselves witnessed.
"Oh, for more of these 'women that publish the tidings.' They have, too, a little hospital here in Miss Johnson's charge, and they have also been able to start a small 'Station Class,' though in doing so they had to face difficulties which were not met with in the older districts.
"And now, in drawing this long letter to a conclusion, I must say that with all these ladies are doing before one's eyes, and the utter devotion of their lives, it was a 'disappointment to observe in the Annual Report that your 'China Fund' was at so low an ebb, the receipts last year being less than the expenditure by £900, so that the balance in hand is almost gone. What is Fuhkien to do this coming year? Unless funds come in quite unexpectedly, there will be a great deficit.
"Do your readers know that China only gets money sent in specially marked as for China? If they did, I don't believe they could leave the 'China Fund 'to languish like this. These dear sisters, who, as you know, are all of them on the reduced rate of salary, wrote to me on observing this in your Report, that they felt they must themselves try to help still further. One said, 'I will pay our Mission messenger myself.' Another said, 'I will pay my teacher.' Two others, 'We will pay the rent of our Mission House,' etc. They will not lose by it. 'There is that scattereth and yet increaseth.' 'The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.'
"One good result is this, your 'China Fund 'is now being remembered in prayer as never before, and He who has the silver and the gold will certainly give what is needed.
"ROBERT W. STEWART."
Mr. Stewart's letter to the Committee of the C.E.Z.M.S. will be read with interest. He describes the "foreign women" no longer "strangers and foreigners," but at home in the hearts of the Chinese women.
And are not his closing words as "a voice out of the cloud" to us now, pleading that lack of funds should not be a reason why missionaries must not be sent to China?
Is it true that--as a living writer has said--we Christians have been "electro-plated with avarice"--taking care of ourselves, providing for our own families, taking thought what we shall eat and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed, and turning a deaf ear to the bitter cry of millions who are starving for the Bread of Life?
Jesus Christ died for them as much as for us.
He has already told us to go and preach this good news to every creature.
If we neglect to do this, will He not say to us,--
"Thou oughtest therefore to have put My money to the exchangers, and then at My coming I should have received Mine own with usury?"
Oh! may no one who reads this book have the solemn words that follow addressed to them,--"Take therefore the talent from him . . . and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness."
"Wherefore He saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. . . . And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT."