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The Evidential Value of Philanthropy as An Agent of Christian Service and Activity
BY MRS. A. T. MILLS, OF CHEFOO
HE fundamental idea of the work at the Chefoo School for the Deaf is that we are working for a class rather than for individuals.
With this thought in mind we recently took an itinerary, the object of which was to give information. We had with us a native hearing-teacher, trained at the school, and two pupils for demonstration work; travelling over two thousand miles, we visited sixteen cities, speaking more than fifty times to over thirty thousand Chinese. More could have been reached if we had managed better, but the results, seen from this near perspective, may bear on the object on which I have been asked to write, and be of general interest.
Everywhere the busy mission workers welcomed us and meetings were arranged. Invitations sent to officials usually brought a response, except where the mourning ceremonies for the Emperor and Empress-Dowager prevented. A number of government schools were visited. A cautious invitation sent to one for a delegation to come, brought the reply: "We all want to come. The interest was intense, and pages could be filled with the expressions of wonder and admiration.
In Tientsin Mr. C. H. Robertson, of the Y. M. C. A., arranged several meetings and introduced us to Mr. C. C. Yen, son of H. E. Yen Shou, Vice-President of the Board of Education, who not only had a meeting for us in his own private school, to which he invited friends, but he also arranged one in a large lecture hall, where we spoke to an audience of three thousand Chinese. Following this came an invitation from Mr. Wang, president of the Tientsin University, to speak to the students there. He invited the directors and the foreign faculty to be present, and after the meeting entertained us all at tea. We were invited to the home-school of Lu Da-yin, Commissioner of Schools, to the Woman's Normal College, and other places.
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.
A short interview with Viceroy Yang Hsi-shiang was granted us through the courtesy of Consul-General Williams. His Excellency promised to promote schools for the deaf in Chihli province and has given one thousand dollars toward the opening of one at Paotingfu, the provincial capital.
In Peking Hon. W. W. Rockhill, American Minister to China, assisted by Dr. C. D. Tenney, Legation Secretary, obtained for us an invitation to give a demonstration at the private residence of H. E. Yen Shou. This was followed by an invitation to meet other members of the Board of Education at the annual exhibition of the Peking government schools held in a large theatre. Here the deaf boys were given merit cards and prizes of pens, brass ink slabs, and ink. H. E. Yen Shou promised to canvass the city, ascertain the number of deaf children, and later to open a school in Peking.
One Sunday a eunuch, who was in the morning service, was attracted by the unusual sight of seeing the sermon transmitted to the deaf boys on the fingers. He followed the teacher to his room intensely interested, and spent several hours with him and the boys. When he left he was presented with a set of the books, which he said should surely find its way into the palace. Later this man attended the meeting held at the Theological Seminary, where he was a careful observer of everything done.
Our visit in Paotingfu, the provincial capital of Chihli, was full of interest, for the district magistrate has a deaf daughter and was anxious to have a school. He had already interested the gentry and some of the other officials, and before we left they had selected a lot of over twenty Chinese acres as the site for the first provincial school for the deaf in China. The building, for which they have four thousand dollars Mexican, is to be built this spring and one of our teachers put in charge. They said that they could raise fifteen hundred dollars yearly for expenses and a little more if necessary.
When we reached Nanking word was sent to His Excellency, Viceroy Tuan Fang, by Cousul McNally, of the work we are doing. This brought an invitation to meet His Excellency at the viceregal palace, where we gave a demonstration; the Commissioner of Schools and a few others having been invited.
The Viceroy's interest centres around a little deaf niece, who is a member of his household. Judge McNally said he had never seen him so interested nor known him to grant so
long an interview. He made an offer for one of our teachers to open a school in his home, to which he will receive as many outside pupils as the teacher can take charge of. He also desired that the teacher's wife should be trained as an assistant. In several mission stations the idea of classes for the deaf, in connection with mission schools taught by native teachers trained here, was considered. Something will be done along this line before many years.
The most touching incident of the whole tour took place in the Wesleyan Chapel in Tientsin, when at the close of the meeting Mr. S. V. Hya, the father of one of our pupils, arose and, in a speech which made eyes grow moist, thanked us for what we had done for little Ziao Fong, whom we had with us. In this case it is pleasant to reflect that the benefit is being reaped by the third generation in a Christian family; Mr. Hya's father having been an honoured clergyman of the Church Mission in Ningpo.
At the close of one meeting the pastor said: "It is as good a Gospel sermon as I ever listened to." In nearly every meeting there were enough Christians present to make it an opportunity for calling their attention to the Christ-like character of the work. In one school our meeting was followed by quite a revival among the students; so touched were they by the thought that every class was included in the wonderful plan of salvation; there being a way to reach even the shut-in soul of the deaf mute.
Another time an interesting conversation was carried on between a stranger and the older boy whom we had with us, son of an elder in the church in Hangchow. It was about the Christian doctrine, and closed something in this wise: "Do you know how to pray?" wrote the deaf boy. "No," replied the man, "but I believe." Then our mute preacher quickly wrote: "You must come to the church every Sunday and learn to pray to Jesus," to which the man replied: "I will." "Even a little child shall lead them," and why not a
In some places the meetings in the government school gave the opportunity of forming new acquaintances which may lead to something definite if followed up.
In one home we found a deaf child under the instruction of a native teacher, who assured us that she had committed to memory several native books. When asked if she could ask
and answer questions we were told that she could, but the question written at our request, "How old are you?" was, after some pantomime on the part of the teacher, answered incorrectly. The question, The question, "What is your name?" was understood no better. These people were filled with wonder at the way our pupils, even the little boy, asked and answered questions.
In homes of wealth we found the deaf child sheltered and cared for as far as was possible, only lacking intelligent teaching, and this will come by putting within the reach of the Chinese the results of the experience of years in other countries.
The estimate which the Chinese have put on their own attempts to teach the deaf was well illustrated by the reception given the teacher and the two boys at Boone College, Wuchang. At first very little interest was shown. "Oh, yes," they said, "deaf children can learn to write a few characters, but they do not understand. They are still dummies." After the meeting, teachers and students crowded around full of interest.
The following letter from Bishop L. H. Roots, of the American Episcopal Mission, Hankow, shows further how it was received. He writes:
"I have made some inquiries, and our Chinese clergy have given me the following points, which I think bear upon the question you asked regarding the value of work for the deaf as you presented it. They said that after your address and the exhibition given by your teacher and pupils they frequently heard remarks like this: What patience this shows to have been displayed by the teachers of these pupils,' and our clergy say that in several cases where this remark has been made by one who was not Christian it has been easy for them to follow it up, pointing out that the source of this patience is the constraining love of Christ. Others have remarked that this is certainly good work and have thus again given our Christians the opportunity to trace this good work to the Christian motive as the only sufficient explanation, and often the expression regarding its excellence was liao pu teh.' After your address at Boone College one of the Confucian teachers had a conversation with your teacher, and later on came to talk about the subject with one of our deacons who was then in the Divinity School. His first remark was, 'What a shame that our own government provides so very poorly for even those who would benefit by a good education of the ordinary kind, not to speak of the deaf.' But then he was quick to add that Confucianism, in his opinion, has all that Christianity has. The deacon replied: 'Yes, in many respects, but the difficulty is that Confucianism
does not provide what Christianity does, namely, the power to do the truth which has been learned.' Many of our Christian and also non-Christian students said after your address: 'This work is truly like the Christian teaching about Christ, who made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and the blind to see,' the latter referring to the school for the blind; for,' they said, 'these, though deaf and blind, do not hear with their ears and see with their eyes; yet they are made to understand as if they did hear and see.'
Personally I am sure that the effects of your work, even as we had so brief an opportunity to learn about it, are very farreaching and that this work which you have already done, has materially strengthened the force of the Christian appeal even here in this comparatively distant part of China. We are looking
forward to having work for the deaf in our own mission when you have trained some teachers for us."
Carrying on this work as we have under the pressure of uncertain support we have often asked, "Is it worth the struggle?" As far as the past is concerned that question has been answered to my satisfaction in the case of one of our boys. He had been with us more than ten years, and every added year showed added grace of mind and character. I do not remember when I first began to notice his deep religious feeling, but it was especially brought to my mind one Sabbath morning when I could not be present at the Bible lesson. When I next met the boys, I asked them, "Who taught you until Mr. Chang came ?" "Chin Shiu-giei did," was the quick reply. The boy himself stood one side with a shy, pleased manner. you pray?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "I pray every day." From then on I often asked him to lead in prayer, which he did most reverently. Removing his cap and standing with bowed head he spelled with great distinctness; the expression of his face and his deep breathing showing how intensely he felt as he begged our Saviour to help them to be good boys. His mind showed such a clear grasp of every subject taught and he had such patience and ability in explaining things to the younger pupils that we began training him for a teacher. But it was not to be. This spring he slipped away to the heavenly home after leaving this witness to his poor heathen mother, "I am not afraid to die. I am trusting in Jesus." His life and his testimony will furnish the text for the next preacher who visits that village in which his is the only Christian grave. Without the knowledge gained here in our school this dear boy could never have known of the power of Christ to save. The deaf are really the only class in the world