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The Evangelistic Work
Evangelistic work is being carried on, as indicated in the preceding pages, over a wide area. Progress must in the nature. of things be slow. The converts require much help and instruction before they are ready to be baptized. In Honan our church is called "The true doctrine church," and it is generally recognized as holding up a high standard of conduct for its members.
The interest to hear is especially great in the villages inland, and there much of the best work is done. For example, Mr. and
Mrs. Westrup took up their abode in a country village of about 200 inhabitants, and within a short time were able to baptize twenty-three converts. For a time they conducted a boys' school with twenty students and a girls' school with about thirty in attendance.
People come in from all sides to inquire. The women show fully as great an interest as the men; but they are heavily burdened with work. Often missionaries hear it said by these patient toilers as they gather in village groups: "I should like to go to meeting, but we women are always busy; there is no time to go. How can the gospel be for us?"
Itinerating in China is often attended with danger from robbers. Missionary Nagel tells of one such experience. He was returning to his home in Waichow from a trip to Canton, in a flat-bottomed river boat with three decks, pulled by a launch. He writes:
"We were almost half way home, and had come to a place in the river where a small island made the channel very narrow. Two other missionaries and myself were on the top deck, visiting and watching the country, when suddenly we heard the crack of rifles, and the balls whizzed all about us. One of the German missionaries fell, hit in the head. I dropped flat on the deck and crawled into a small cabin. The robbers, armed with knives, revolvers, and rifles, soon waded out and boarded the vessel. They carried off everything they could lay their hands on, including the coat off my back and the shoes from my feet. I did what I could for the wounded missionary, and the captain at my request sailed back for Canton, where we took him to the hospital."
As soon as one of the Chinese receives the truth, he begins to work for others. Converts are largely made in this way. The chief work for the missionaries to do is to train workers, organize the field, and direct in the work, giving further instruction for the building up of the believers. The active propaganda is largely done by the Chinese workers, sometimes before they are themselves fully instructed.
The eagerness of the Chinese to learn is very touching. One of our colporteurs met a man of thirty-five whom he succeeded in interesting in the gospel. The man was a vender of hot sweet potatoes, and a day's earnings would rarely exceed five cents, on which small amount he had to support a blind brother and an aged mother. Nevertheless he bought a copy of the "Gospel Primer," to the mastery of which he diligently applied himself at night. With some help he was able to read the book through. Then he began to read the easier parts of the Bible. He is now a converted man, and can read almost anywhere in the Bible. Two years ago a little company of believers was raised up in his village, and he was elected deacon. When this brother prays or tells the gospel story to a crowd of people, it is hard to believe that only a few years ago he was a poor, ignorant idolater, living in the grossest darkness of heathenism.
Perhaps this somewhat informal sketch of missionary operations in China may best be brought to a close by a few reports of some typical general assemblies held in different parts of the country. The first general meeting was held in Siangcheng, Honan, at the.close of the year 1907. It was attended by fifty Chinese Sabbath keepers, mostly from Siangcheng and Shangtsai, and was a season of great spiritual refreshing, as well as of advancement in a fuller knowledge of the truth. Men brought their pipes and burned them, women unbound their feet, and all together sought that complete purification of heart and life which is to make ready a people prepared for the coming of their Lord. A change has indeed come to China.
From this time on, general gatherings of a similar character have been held from time to time. I. H. Evans writes:
"At a meeting held in May, 1911, in Changsha, Hunan, there was an attendance of more than seventy Sabbath keepers, and a congregation more eager to hear the Word of God could not be imagined. They had come from thirty to sixty miles, not a few of them on foot, leaving their work, their crops, their stores, in order to study God's Word. We held five meetings a day, and finally had to leave Elder Cottrell with this large company of people still thirsting for more instruction, and with no help to give it to them except a sick wife."
About the same time a general meeting was held in Chowkiakow, Honan, beginning the first of May. It was attended by all the workers in Honan and by some from Anhwei, as well as by the students in the school, and when the weather was reasonably favorable, by large crowds from the city.
At this meeting for the first time a call was made for sinners, especially the heathen, to come forward for prayers. In the words of a worker:
"Brother Allum spoke the first evening, and the audience was a large one. At the close of his sermon, he asked if there was one sinner, one heathen, who would show to the world that he wanted to be a Christian by rising to his feet and coming forward. When no one moved, he knelt down and besought the Lord to give conviction to some poor soul. Then another call was made, and one sinner came forward, then another, and another, till nine precious souls had separated themselves from the congregation, and were seeking the Lord. On the following night three more came forward.
"On Friday night Dr. Selmon spoke for about twenty minutes, after which an excellent social meeting was held. Then followed a call to sinners, to which forty responded, coming forward to seek God. The next night fifty-four sought the Lord, and the last night there were seventy. During the week there were over 200 heathen who thus testified to their desire to seek the God of the Bible."
At the General Conference session of 1922, in San Francisco, I. H. Evans, vice-president of the Far Eastern Division, said:
"Thirteen provinces of China proper have been entered by our foreign mission workers, and already we have in China and Manchuria a church membership of 4,277."
According to the 1925 Year Book, by 1924 the number of members in China alone had increased to 4,816. Thus encouraging progress is being made.
Missions in Japan, Chosen, and
ADVENTISTS began their work for the Japanese people in the city of San Francisco, where a mission school was conducted in their behalf for several years in the early nineties. As a result of this work, a number of young Japanese accepted the truth, and several of them afterward attended Healdsburg College.
In 1896 this school was closed, and Prof. W. C. Grainger, formerly president of Healdsburg College, who had been in charge of it, sailed for Japan. He was accompanied by T. H. Okohira, a young Japanese who had accepted the truth at a tent-meeting in Southern California and had been a student at Healdsburg. The two settled at Tokio, and a year later were joined by Professor Grainger's wife and younger daughter.
As a result of careful study of the situation, it was thought best to work in educational lines. The Shiba Bible School was accordingly organized, classes in English Bible being conducted at such hours of the day as would best accommodate those who desired to attend. The pupils who came to these Bible classes were mostly attending regular schools in the city, but availed themselves of the Bible instruction for the purpose of gaining a better knowledge of the English language.
The first church was organized in Tokio in June, 1897, with a membership of thirteen. The Sabbath school connected with this church had an attendance of sixty. About the same time