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An Onlooker's Impressions
BY MRS. J. W. BASHFORD YEAR of absorbing interest had been spent in journeys to and fro among the missions of China when a round
the-world traveler, who was introduced to me on going aboard a coast steamer, inquired abruptly : “Are the missionaries really doing anything?" The form and tone of the question indicated that a negative reply was confidently expected. “The missionaries are doing an amazing work," I answered. “Have you visited any of their stations ?" No, she had seen none of them. She had been four months in China, but not even from a city wall had she viewed a mission compound, nor had she talked with a missionary. She had just spent ten days in Peking, where she might have visited any of a half dozen Christian centers, but her time had all been passed among street scenes, temples, and curio shops. She had heard nothing of the wonderful educational changes going on all over the empire, had been told that the missionaries were not accomplishing anything, that the country was hopelessly decadent and would be divided among the Great Powers. Where should one begin to tell what the missionaries were doing ? Fortunately an interruption came at this point and further effort was spared, for at tiffin it chanced that there sat beside me a charming young Chinese lady, who spoke English well. She was the daughter of a Chinese pastor, had been educated in a mission school and was the wife of a Christian man, educated in another mission, who was holding a responsible position under the government. She was making a long journey alone to visit her husband's mother and give her needed care. The meal over, it was with great satisfaction that I sought out the skeptical American lady and presented to her this fine product of missions, for here was one who would grace the best circles of society in any land, with a light in her eyes that revealed the Spirit's indwelling and a face that seemed to say to all : “What can I do for you ?”
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Her personality proved an effective answer to the other's query. In the conversation that ensued between the two ladies the stranger from across the sea got her first view of new China. I was glad to be able to add that I had seen some thousands of Chinese Christians; many of them men and women of genuine devotion, was familiar with scores of shining faces and transformed lives and had visited not a few homes which were centers of light and joy.
Nothing is plainer than that men and women of a new type are coming out of the missions ; especially are the women changed from head to foot, for they now appear with unbound feet and unbound minds. The genesis of these new lives is not far to seek. Some of them trace their family lineage back in unbroken lines for a thousand years, but the Christ-likeness has been stamped upon them in two or three generations at the most, and wherever one shows rare strength and purity the hall-mark is evident. The impress has been made by some noble, self-sacrificing teacher or preacher who has poured his or her life into the upbuilding of character. Here is apostolic succession in its original simplicity—a joy to witness, a power to covet.
The new type of home gives assurance that the Christian stamp will stick. Consul-General Denby has well said : “The most optimistic imagination cannot take too favorable a view of the future of China when a Christian wife shall be the center of even a small proportion of its homes.” In a home where the wife is respected and her welfare regarded, where the family eat together and ask a blessing on the meal, where prayer and song replace bitterness and reviling, there is a "psychical climate" in which growing youth thrive. A separate house for each family is an ideal encouraged wherever practicable. Only under such conditions can a Christian family set up its own standards and avoid the contaminating influences of great households, with their polygamy, slavery, infanticide and numberless idolatrous practices.
A Chinese scholar was returning from a visit to America. He had seen farms and factories, railroads and machinery, schools, churches, hospitals, public institutions, and had marveled at the general intelligence and prosperity of the people. Where was the key to such widespread success? He would not admit that his own people were in any way inferior in native ability, industry, or aptitude for the highest arts. On the
homeward voyage he made the acquaintance of a family of missionaries who could speak his language. Noting day after day the mother's watchful care and training of her children, he said : “I have found the key to Western civilization. The mothers of China cannot train our children as you train yours. This is our need." It is this great national need that is being
. patiently ministered to in every mission home and through every mission agency. No wonder the people say in such an
. atmosphere of love and purity: “This is just like Heaven," or that the sympathetic Bible-woman who carries peace and goodwill into cheerless homes is thought to be “some relative of God.” No wonder the foreign visitor, after weary days among squalid villages, and more weary nights in wretched inns, says on reaching a mission station : “This is Paradise Regained.”
When a missionary years ago talked to a group of women about the bliss of heaven one of her auditors said : " It would be heaven enough for me to have my husband walk beside me on the street as yours does with you.” This new fashion is coming into vogue. It is now no uncommon thing to see husband and wife calling together on their friends; a bride smiles, even talks and sings at her wedding; the family go to church together and the father carries the baby. It may yet be long before a brutal husband will cease to exclaim in amazement, when a woman physician protests against his cruelty : “Isn't she my wife? Can't I do what I please with her ?” But there is great encouragement in the numberless instances in which husbands now provide instruction for their ignorant wives, neglected in childhood, and take no small pride in their ability to read, to keep accounts, and to order their households aright.
Christianity is not only demonstrating anew on the vastest scale ever witnessed, its power to satisfy the deepest human needs, but its leavening and inspiring influence is creating new and ever higher needs. The educational awakening of China is the marvel of the age, and of the many marvelous phases of this awakening the most surprising of all is the widespread demand for the education of women. No better proof could be desired of the effectiveness of missions on a national scale. They have created a demand beyond the present possibility of supply. When a Chinese reformer visited a mission school and heard that the gate-keeper's daughter was a teacher and that the sewing woman's sons were in college, he said to the lady
in charge : “You are indeed turning the world upside down." It can no longer be taken for granted that the study-book child” is a boy. The girl is having a chance.
There was no more dramatic moment in the great Centenary Conference of Missions in Shanghai than that in which Mrs. Tsêng Lai-sun was presented to the body as a pupil in the first girls' school ever known in China. It thrilled all hearts to look into the bright face of this eldest of the new women of China and to think of the significance for the most populous people of earth of the new movement started by Miss Aldersey in Ningpo in 1843. Before the mind's eye there quickly passed in review the happy thousands of girls who have since enjoyed the privileges of mission schools and are now a mighty uplifting influence in numberless communities. It is an added joy to reflect that missionary initiative and missionary success have prepared the way for the opening in this first decade of the new century of many schools for girls under private and government direction. The young women trained in the missions are coveted as teachers, and the results there achieved are everywhere desired, though the Christian principles and methods involved may not be acceptable or realized as essential. The nation has yet to see that only the learning that is coupled with sound character will exalt a people.
Educated women are certain to exert great influence in China, because of the universal reverence for learning. Multitudes have not yet seen this new wonder of the age—a woman who can read—but all are prepared to honor her as a superior being In the popular thought she is set on a pedestal and men and women alike look up to her. That an educated woman should be made a secondary wife is not to be thought . of. This splendid new public opinion will deal a death blow to polygamy. The glory of the red bridal chair, the tyranny of the mother-in-law and the posthumous honor of the widow's arch are not now all that life holds for women. We may not fully agree with the radical principal of a provincial normal school for girls when she says in an address to her patrons :
Whatever heaven intends men to do that also women are to do," but certainly a wide door of opportunity is opening to the educated women of China and happily the first to enter it are Christians with true ideals of service to their people. The spirit of patriotism, of reform, of heroic self-sacrifice, is as apparent among the young women as among the young men of the land.
The missions, through the introduction of true standards of living, of teaching, of healing, have set a new pace for the nation, and multitudes are trying to keep step. Mission schools of all grades, from the kindergarten to the normal school and college, form “the pattern shown in the mount”, after which the new Western learning, now required by the government, is being fashioned. Schools for the blind, the deaf, the orphaned and destitute, with training in books and in varied industries; schools of high grade for nurses and physicians, all have found a place in mission enterprise and are receiving the public favor that promises the early adoption of their aims and methods in government institutions for the defective classes, in addition to a system of general public instruction.
There is every reason for strengthening the missions at this time when their utmost output will be utilized as teachers and leaders of the race.
“How can we be sure of the will of God ?" we know that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts ?” we make our lives count for the most for China ?” some of the searching questions that show the lofty purpose stirring the hearts of thousand of Chinese youth. Of many it is true, as one wrote to his teacher, “I am reading God's holy book every day and believing it.” This estimate of real values and this atmosphere of spiritual success appear in every mission. . They make of every genuine missionary an optimist as he looks out upon the future of China. His is not the optimism of the idler wlio assumes that everything will somehow come out right in the end, but the well-grounded assurance of one who sees to it that life plans and purposes are right in the beginning and confidently builds on the sure foundation that no flood can sweep away. He holds the key to the solution alike of personal and of national problems. "To lend a hand” in such an enterprise is to share in the greatest of world movements and to see the kingdom of heaven visibly appearing upon the earth.
" How can " How can These are
Missionary Women Workers in China
BY THE REV. LL. LLOYD.
T is hardly possible to write on the subject of women's
work anywhere without saying something at the outset
with reference to the unique influence which women have ever exerted in the world. We sometimes say that “the hand which rocks the cradle rules the world”, and although the