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The Missionary Outlook
BY REV. A. H. SMITH, D.D. UDICIOUS generalization in regard to complex phenomena
is always difficult, and especially in China, where we
seldom suffer from an excessive acquaintance with the facts. With reference to the missionary experiences of the past year there are those who tell us that no special difference is to be noted from the preceding and other years before it. But this appears to be rather the exception. It is a common testimony that there is both in city and in country work a greater readiness to listen to preaching, a larger demand for Bibles and portions and for all Christian books, and in general a more intelligent apprehension of what is said. In some of the street chapels in the city of Peking a remarkable readiness of outsiders to remain to "after meetings' following the preaching, has been gladly noted, as well as a willingness to confess wrong doing-even on the part of new hearers. This is certainly a novel and a most encouraging sign that the word has penetrated the hearts of the hearers. The most marked peculiarity of the church life has been the widespread meetings for the deepening of the spiritual life, which, beginning in Manchuria last winter, have spread in many directions. The story of the Manchurian meetings has been made extensively known and need only be referred to. They have been followed by similar ones, largely under the lead of Mr. Goforth, in Chihli, Shansi, and Honan.
There is nothing new about them except the somewhat unusual amount of confession of sin, which has been a prominent feature everywhere. In these, as well as in other meetings of a like sort conducted by other leaders, everyone has been surprised at the extensive revelations of deep-seated and smothered wrong on the part of many who had been quite unsuspected. The deep lying effects of the sins committed during the Boxer period and the subsequent years have been far more serious than was generally imagined. It has been generally felt that until these roots of bitterness have been wholly extracted the church cannot expect to flourish.
Note-Readers of the RECORDER are reminded that the Editorial Board assumes no responsibility for the views expressed by the writers of articles published in these pages.
As often before in these experiences strong and at times violent opposition has been excited, and those who have confessed wrong have frequently been accused of doing so to “curry
' favor with the foreigner”.
There is little question that large numbers have begun a new life, and it is to be expected that the spiritual tone of the churches will prove to have been permanently raised. Educational work has been vigorously prosecuted, with the disadvantage of competing at all points with the somewhat showy attractions of government schools, where expenses are light and no questions are asked. One of the largest problems now before the church is to bring to bear such potent spiritual forces as to win the educated children of the church to service for the Master. At present everyone feels that this result is very imperfectly attained. The usual variety and extent of medical work has seemed to yield the usual important fruits, but the increasing competition of Chinese officially-conducted dispensaries and hospitals makes itself much felt where they exist.
The attitude both of officials and scholars seems to be externally friendly, and in some instances markedly so. Yet there is always back of the observed phenomena the suppressed assumption that even the presence of a foreigner in some way challenges the ideal of “China for the Chinese".
How profoundly this partly unconscious feeling runs we are at times forcibly shown. Some officials will delay the stamping of deeds until sufficient opposition has been stirred up to make the case one of extreme difficulty. This seems likely to increase rather than diminish.
Numerous union movements are in the air, while those already in operation are undergoing a test of their capacity to resist strain and to promote efficiency. In this respect the progress during the year past has apparently been appreciable. Everyone acquainted with China will join in the prayer that under the new reign so suddenly and so quietly entered upon we may in due time see a large increase of power on the part of the Chinese churches, real religious liberty granted to all Chinese subjects, and a growing unity on the part of all workers, the elimination of waste and the multiplication of the spiritual as well as all other powers of the Chinese Christians.
New Year Thoughts
BY BISHOP BASHFORD
1. Retrospect and Prospect
brief notes on recent observations in the United States
and China. The attention of the people of the United States is turned to the Far East as never before. President Roosevelt, Secretary Root, and President-elect Taft were eager inquirers in regard to present conditions in China. The students in every college where I spoke and the laymen in the churches showed great interest in both China and Japan. The men and women of the Methodist Episcopal Church generously responded to an appeal I made in 1906 for $300,000 as a centennial thank-offering, by pledging $500,000 before the close of the campaign in 1908. These gifts were in addition to the regular appropriations for China, made by the Men's Board and the Women's Board.
After the centennial thank-offering campaign had closed, Dr. Louis Klopsch, editor and proprietor of The Christian Herald, sent for me, and after discussing the situation growing out of the famine, and the poverty of many Chinese homes, volunteered to contribute, through The Christian Herald, $9,000 per year for the next seven years for the support of five hundred Chinese orphans. This contribution is made for non-sectarian, interdenominational orphan work. As our readers well know, Dr. Klopsch was asked by President Roosevelt to take charge of the American famine relief funds for China in 1907. He sent more than $500,000 for the Chinese in that crisis, thus helping to save literally tens of thousands of lives.
In addition to Dr. Klopsch's pledge of $63,000 for interdenominational orphan work, other men and women pledged nearly $50,000 for schools, hospitals, and evangelistic work under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, making over $100,000 pledged after the campaign closed, in addition to the $500,000 mentioned in the thank-offering.
The most significant indication of the awakening interest of Americans in China and in all the mission fields is the Laymen's Missionary Movement. This Movement has been greatly stimulated by the reports of prominent laymen returning from the Shanghai Conference of 1907.
While the Methodist
Episcopal Church has led in the centennial thank-offering, the laymen in other churches are leading in this organization, and several other American missions will in the long run receive much larger additions of men and means for the evangelization of China than the church which I represent has received through the centennial thank-offering.
Fully keeping pace with the awakening interest of laymen in America is the enthusiasm of college students. The consecration of some of the finest students in our largest American colleges for work in China, and their eagerness to spend their lives in this great empire is one of the most significant signs of the times.
The most striking illustration of the awakening in America is the world tour of missions now being made by Professor Burton, Dean of the Theological Department of Chicago University, as the representative of that great American university. This may prove the most striking single movement for the uplift of China through Christian education thus far witnessed in the history of the empire.
Returning to China, a tour of five of the provinces, just completed, reveals the possibilities of a deep and wide-spread revival throughout our Protestant churches. Revival fires from the great Korean and Manchurian revivals are being kindled at isolated spots in the Shansi, Chihli, Kiangsi and Fuhkien provinces, and possibly in other places. United prayer and faith, the humble confession of sins and shortcomings, a waiting upon God for the enduement of power which accompanies the outpouring of the Spirit, followed by the beginning of revival services in the name of Christ, will result in large harvests from the fields which have been long and patiently cultivated. Such a revival impresses me as a possibility of the situation, but not as inevitable or certain.
The movement is not yet sufficiently under way to sweep aside all obstacles to its further progress. But such a movement is certainly possible during 1909.
The fields of China are now white for the harvest as they could not have been at any preceding period of missionary history, because the earlier periods were necessarily given to the breaking of the hard soil and the faithful sowing of the seed.
A significant sign of the growth of the Kingdom in the hearts of the Chinese was witnessed recently in our Hinghwa Conference. Very naturally men living on the Hinghwa plain hesitate to go to the hills and mountains in the western end of