FOR the proper prosecution and development of missionary work in this land it is of the utmost importance to have a definite purpose in view, and to make all our efforts contribute to the attainment of that object. Our great aim is to bring as many of these people as possible under the influence of Christian truth,, and to lead them to a knowledge of God as revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, whatever department of mission effort we engage in, whether as physicians, preachers, educationists,, or workers among women, all our energies are bent toward the accomplishment of this one supreme end, the salvation of men and women. This aim is a great and glorious one, and demands the consecration of our highest powers.
Those who have laboured longest, and with the greatest success, are at one in their belief as to the power of the Gospel in the hearts of the Chinese, and as to the latent possibilities for good in the character and life of those who come under its influence. Who can, even in a small measure, estimate the forces that shall result from the planting of the truth of God in the hearts of the people of China ? We believe, with all our souls, in Jesus Christ, and that He alone can satisfy our needs, and the needs of the Chinese, and woe is unto us if we do not present Him in such a way that they may learn to love and obey Him. Our aim is, by word and deed, to proclaim in all our districts the Lord Jesus Christ as the way back to the Father of us all, and that in Him all the cravings of man's better nature may be satisfied.
This we take to be the general purpose of the Friends' Mission in China, as elsewhere ; but it is necessary to have some definite plans in order best to carry out this purpose in detail. We have already given some account of what has been, and is being done, in the various centres where we have missionaries, but a forward view, may add a spirit of strong hope and expectation to that of thankfulness and rejoicing, already obtained through looking back over the way that the Lord has led us.
We may best formulate our desires for the future consolidation and progress of the mission, by considering the agencies now at work in our various centres :
Stations: Chungking and T’ung Liang.
1. Chungking, the oldest station, is at the present moment strengthening the stakes, and the various branches of the mission there are looking forward expectantly to a lengthening of the cords. The work in the street-preaching halls in this city has always been a prominent feature and, with the addition of more helpers we look for a greater scattering of the seed than ever before, by this means. It may not seem to result in an immediate harvest, but we are assured of a rich ingathering. The Bishop of Hongkong, speaking lately of this class of work, says : -- “ The pioneers of Protestant missionary work in China, the men who founded the Churches, were wonderfully successful, in spite of enormous difficulties, and in spite of having to wait many a long year before they saw results. These results were achieved by the ' foolishness of preaching,' by the steady, unwearing proclamation of an acceptable message, without hospitals or colleges, without complex machinery, but by the patient, persistent proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, in the town and in the country.” The need for this regular, patient preaching of the Gospel is very great, and we have now several halls, besides the large meeting-house, in Chungking city and suburbs, where we look to maintain this evangelistic effort. In several other villages near the city we are anxious to have someone to proclaim the Truth. By this means we expect to spread widely the knowledge of the Christian religion, so that all may have the opportunity of learning of Jesus.
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, educational work among boys in Chungking has out-grown the building in which it has been carried on for some years. In the new building, which has been erected on the south side of the river, we shall be able to accommodate at least forty boarders, to whom we hope to give a thorough Christian education. We trust that from them may come our future School Teachers and Mission Helpers. We want so to work this institution that it shall make its influence felt, not only in Chungking, but throughout the province. As men at home to-day are thankful for the teaching and training they received at Ackworth, Sidcot, Saffron Walden, or others of our Friends' Schools, so may many a Chinaman in days to come praise God for our Friends' School at Chungking. Alfred Davidson has the care of this department during Leonard Wigham's furlough.
2. The new station opened at T'ung Liang has now a missionary living there. He has oversight of the work in the two counties of T'ung Liang and Ta Choo, which are considerably larger than any two English counties, and he and his family are the only foreigners resident in all that neighbourhood.
There are scores of market towns and villages where men and women profess an interest in the Gospel, besides those in which we have native helpers at work. These places have to be visited periodically, the inquirers seen and taught, the helpers advised and strengthened, and the work already begun in the two county towns needs constant supervision.
Besides the carrying on of the regular meetings, there is also need for Elementary Schools. Classes (or teaching local inquirers, as well as those from the country round, are of pressing importance, as well as simple Bible Schools for the helpers, which must have a share of the missionary's time. This work is comparatively new, but we aim at making it permanent, to carry the Gospel news to every village and market in the two counties, and we are hoping ere long to see Christians in every hamlet round. Work amongst the women and girls, in both the city of Chimgking, and the rest of the "Southern District," also calls for more labourers, and it was never in a more hopeful condition to reward the effort expended upon it.
Stations : T'ung Ch'wan, Sui-ling, and Chentu.
Turning to the “ Northern District, " where the local conditions are somewhat different from those in Chungking and its neighbourhood, we greatly rejoice in the opportunity afforded now of reaching the great population with the Gospel. We are looking forward to a still more extended effort than the mission has been able to make in the past. The number of foreign missionaries, as well as native helpers, has been considerably increased during the past year or so, but even yet not in proportion to the great needs.
3. In T'ung Ch'wan the mission has prospered, and a broad foundation for future work is being laid, upon which we hope to build strongly and well. Medical work, the education of girls and young women, and the supervision of an increasingly large number of out-stations will be made the prominent features of our work in this city. Owing to various causes, particularly the prejudice of the people against entering a foreign hospital, the medical effort has not been so successful as we could wish ; but with the new hospital erected in 1905, we anticipate much better results in days to come, not only in T’ung Chwan, but in the surrounding district.
One of the crying needs of to-day in China is the education of women. In this great province of Sz-Chwan we have never heard of a dozen schools for girls exclusive of those carried on by missionaries. Notwithstanding the great love of learning among the Chinese, they have kept their women ignorant, and the result is that, as a rule, they are much inferior to the men in intelligence and ability, and decidedly more superstitious. The wretched custom of footbinding has doubtless had part in restricting the development of womanhood, both intellectually and physically, but good progress is being made in Sz-Chwan in the crusade against this cruel and useless practice. The anti-footbinding movement is actively pushed by our missionaries as well as others, and is becoming popular amongst the intelligent natives. Viewing the general situation all round, we thankfully see much willingness on the part of parents for their daughters to be educated, and therefore feel we should make this branch of our work a prominent feature at least in one station.
T'ung Chwan presents advantages for such a work. It is healthy, property is comparatively cheap, and the cost of living not expensive ; these facts confirm the wisdom of devoting our energies to helping the girls here. Girls who have been in the day schools in other cities can, if they so desire, go to T'ung Ch'wan Boarding School for further instruction. Some have already done so from Chungking. The girls educated in this school may make good wives for our native Christians, and some of them may help in the teaching of their sisters in other centres, for the demand for the education of women is fast increasing.
It will already have been observed that out-station work in this district has occupied a prominent place, and with the increasing number of towns and villages where men are desirous of Christian teaching, this department in the future must claim still more of our attention. The teaching of these inquirers, the training of necessary helpers, the constant itineration required to visit these stations regularly, present a prospect of missionary effort that at times almost overwhelms the workers. But we have been taught to expect great things from God, and we are not dismayed when He gives us great opportunities for usefulness. Fields lying untilled, or white unto the harvest, renew in our hearts the prayer, “Lord, send forth more labourers into Thy harvest field.”
4. Sui-LING. The extending of our missionary effort to the cities of Sui-ling and Chentu is a great cause for rejoicing, and calls for increased prayer both in the field and at home. We rejoice in the command to go forward, and especially so when the great mountain of opposition which appeared to block our path so long has largely disappeared. We need to pray for wisdom and spiritual discernment to know how best to utilise the present opportunities, to recognise what work should be undertaken, and what left undone.
The city of Sui-ling, though only of " County " or " Hsien " rank, is one of the most important in the province, being favourably situated on a branch of the Chia-ling river, affording easy communication with Chungking, which makes it a great distributing centre for a large area. We are hoping to make this station an active centre of missionary work. A good street-preaching hall, which we have obtained on a busy thoroughfare, a large compound on which a school and residence have been erected, and the existence of an interesting work in the neighbouring city of P'ung Ch'i and surrounding villages, all go to prove that the prospect of future growth and development of the Friends' Mission work in this district is by no means small. May the faith and loving gifts of the Church at home, which have made this advance possible, be richly rewarded in a large ingathering of men and women to the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.
Among the Literati
5. Chentu. Only in 1904 did the original purpose of the Friends' Foreign Mission Association to commence work in the capital of the province become an accomplished fact, and our aims now, in opening a mission station in Chentu, are of a somewhat different character from what they were twenty years ago. Then we simply looked to work, as the way might open, amongst the general population, whereas now we believe the call is to make a special effort to reach the literary classes, amongst whom comparatively little work has been done. Indeed some pioneer missionaries have rather avoided than sought intercourse with the educated people ; the labour amongst them has been specially difficult and unpromising. It has often been said that the simple country folk were the most receptive, and, as of old, the saying that “ the common people heard Him gladly " has been true in China. Therefore the wealthy and educated, as well as the official class, have been largely left untouched by the teaching of the Gospel. Yet these are the men who influence the course of the nation, and who often have been our bitterest enemies. Is their opposition the result of ignorance which we might have dispelled had we endeavoured to do so? It may be so, in part, and the time seems come to aim at reaching them. God has laid it on the hearts of Friends to do their share in bringing a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ to the literary classes, who stand as much in need of His salvation as others who have less learning.
How are these classes to be reached ? This question is of the greatest importance and one to which we must find a satisfactory answer if the work is to be done successfully. The usual methods of street-preaching, medical work or even educational efforts, do not bring this class about us to any large extent. It is therefore necessary to find some means by which we can get so into contact with this portion of the population as to be able to bring to them a knowledge of the Gospel. The distribution of books to students, at the various examination seasons, has been very useful, but this is not equal to the living voice. In one or two places in China, lectures have been given on scientific subjects, and museums have been furnished with collections illustrative of various branches of Western science and manufacture, natural history, and the progress of Christianity. To these the literati have been invited, and, in connection with them, there have been special lecture halls, reception rooms, library and reading rooms, in which visitors have an opportunity of hearing the Gospel. In the present stage of progress in China such institutions are proving most successful in reaching the more educated classes. The great desire for Western learning, including English, offers a means of reaching educated young men ; and not them alone, for the daughters of the officials and gentry are almost equally anxious to acquire knowledge.
In the great western capital of Chentu, where numerous families of this class reside, we look to work along these lines, which have proved successful in other centres, such as Chin-cheo Fu, in Shan-tung, under the English Baptist Mission. The property already secured for the Mission gives scope for work on these lines, and the quarter of the city in which we are located is suitable for the purpose.
Thus, in detail, we bring forward the aims and prospects of the Mission in China, trusting that the Church at home may be encouraged in the work Go^ has given it to do, and that with increased hope and prayer the Mission may be enabled to go forward in the discharge of the great trust committed to it, in bringing in the Kingdom of our God and His Christ.