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Title: Have We No Rights? - A frank discussion of the "rights" of missionaries
Author: Williamson, Mabel
Language: English
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A frank discussion of the "rights" of missionaries

Have We No Rights?

Mabel Williamson

China Inland Mission
Overseas Missionary Fellowship

Moody Press

Copyright ©, 1957, by

Reprinted, 1973

_Printed in the United States of America_


CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

1. Rights                                                           7

2. The Right to What I Consider a Normal Standard of Living        11

3. The Right to the Ordinary Safeguards of Good Health             23

4. The Right to Regulate My Private Affairs As I Wish              33

5. The Right to Privacy                                            39

6. The Right to My Own Time                                        47

7. The Right to a Normal Romance, If Any                           55

8. The Right to a Normal Home Life                                 67

9. The Right to Live With the People of My Choice                  81

10. The Right to Feel Superior                                     91

11. The Right to Run Things                                       103

12. He Had No Rights                                              125

NOTE: Most of the Scripture quotations have been taken from the
American Standard Version.



"Well," said mother, setting down a cup she had just wiped, and
picking up another, "the older I get, and the older my children get,
the more I realize how little right a person has even to her own
children. By the time they get--well--into high school they aren't
yours any more."

"But, Mother," I protested, dropping a dripping dishcloth into the
dishpan and looking at her in amazement, "of course we are yours!
Whose else would we be?"

There was silence for a moment. Then, "You--you belong to yourselves,"
she said quietly.

America--the land of freedom and opportunity! The land where
everyone's rights are respected! The land where the son of a shiftless
drunkard can grit his teeth and say, "I'm going to be rich and famous
some day!" Here in America we pride ourselves on the fact that
everyone has the right to live his own life as he pleases--provided,
that is, that he does not infringe upon the rights of someone else.

Rights--your rights; my rights. Just what are rights, anyway?

       *       *       *       *       *

A group of half a dozen missionaries were gathered for prayer in a
simply furnished living room of a mission house in China. For a few
minutes one of the group spoke to us out of his heart, and I shall
never forget the gist of what he said.

"You know," he began, "there's a great deal of difference between
_eating bitterness_ [Chinese idiom for 'suffering hardship'] and
_eating loss_ [Chinese idiom for 'suffering the infringement of one's
rights']. 'Eating bitterness' is easy enough. To go out with the
preaching band, walk twenty or thirty miles to the place where you are
to work, help set up the tent, placard the town with posters, and
spend several weeks in a strenuous campaign of meetings and
visitation--why, that's a thrill! Your bed may be made of a couple of
planks laid on sawhorses, and you may have to eat boiled rice, greens,
and beancurd three times a day. But that's just the beauty of it! Why,
it's good for anyone to go back to the simple life! A little healthy
'bitterness' is good for anybody!

"When I came to China," he continued, "I was all ready to 'eat
bitterness' and like it. That hasn't troubled me particularly. It
takes a little while to get your palate and your digestion used to
Chinese food, of course, but that was no harder than I had expected.
Another thing, however"--and he paused significantly--"_another thing_
that I had never thought about came up to make trouble. I had to 'eat
loss'! I found that I couldn't stand up for my rights--that I couldn't
even _have_ any rights. I found that I had to give them up, every one,
and that was the hardest thing of all."

       *       *       *       *       *

That missionary was right. On the mission field it is not the enduring
of hardships, the lack of comforts, and the roughness of the life that
make the missionary cringe and falter. It is something far less
romantic and far more real. It is something that will hit you right
down where you live. The missionary has to give up having his own way.
He has to give up having any rights. He has, in the words of Jesus, to
"deny himself." He just has to give up _himself_.

Paul knew all about this. If you do not believe it, look at I
Corinthians 9. "Have we no right to eat and to drink?" he asks. "Have
we not a right to forbear working?... Nevertheless," he goes on, "we
did not use this right.... Though I was free from all men, I brought
myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more" (vv. 4, 6,
12, 19).

Paul, as a missionary, willingly gave up his rights for the sake of
the Gospel. Are we ready to do the same?

"But," someone will ask, "why should this be especially true for the
_missionary_? What rights must be given up on the mission field that a
consecrated Christian at home would not have to give up?"

The following chapters picture some of them.


_The Right to What I Consider a Normal Standard of Living_

_"Have we no right to eat and to drink?"_--I Corinthians 9:4

The white-haired mission secretary looked at me quizzically. "Well,"
he said, "it's all in your point of view. We find that these days in
the tropics people may look upon the missionary's American
refrigerator as a normal and necessary thing; but the cheap print
curtains hanging at his windows may be to them unjustifiable

       *       *       *       *       *

My mind goes back to a simple missionary home in China, with a cheap
rug on the painted boards of the living-room floor. I can see country
women carefully skirting that rug, trying to get to the chairs
indicated for them without stepping on it. Rugs, to them, belonged on
beds, not on floors, and they would no more think of walking on my rug
than you would on my best blanket! I think of our dining table set for
a meal, and visitors examining with amazement the silver implements
instead of bamboo chopsticks; and white cloth instead of a bare table.
I think of having overheard our cook say proudly to a chance comer,
"Oh, of course they have lots of money! Why, they always eat white
bread; and they have meat every day, nearly; and as for sugar--why,
you just can't imagine the amount of sugar they use!"

       *       *       *       *       *

English service was over, and we went home with a lady doctor and
nurse of another mission. They had invited us to Sunday night supper.
The sermon, delivered by a missionary of still another mission, who
was stationed in the city, had been striking and thought-provoking.
The text had been Luke 8:14: "And that which fell among thorns are
they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares
and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to

"This verse must refer to missionaries," the speaker had begun,
"because it says that when they have heard, they go forth."

He had gone on to describe a picture he would like to paint. All
around the border were to be the "cares" and "riches" and "pleasures"
that hindered the real work of the missionary. Subjects that hit home
were mentioned--there would be a big account book that tied the
missionary down so that he had no time for a spiritual ministry; a
teacup, symbolizing the round of entertaining that may develop in a
city where there is a relatively large missionary community; a house
and its furnishings, needing constant attention; and so on. The
conclusion of the sermon had been very solemnizing, because of all
these cares and pleasures and things that are second to God's best, it
is tragically possible that the missionary may "bring no fruit to

At the supper table we had an interesting discussion of the sermon and
its implications. Then the lady doctor made a remark that I have never

"When Frances and I set up this house," she said, "we agreed that one
principle must never be violated. We would have nothing in our
house--its furnishings its arrangement--nothing that would keep the
ordinary poor people among whom we work from coming in, or that would
make them feel strange here."

       *       *       *       *       *

A standard of living--what does it amount to? How important is it?
Does it matter whether we missionaries sleep on spring beds, or those
made of boards (I prefer the latter myself!), whether we eat with
chopsticks, or fingers, or forks; whether we wear silk or homespun;
whether we sit on chairs or on the floor? Does it matter whether we
are poor or rich? Does it matter whether we eat rice or potatoes?
Does it matter whether we live in the way to which we are accustomed,
or adopt the way of living of those to whom we go?

It may matter quite a lot to ourselves. Most of us like potatoes
better than rice. That is to say, most of us like things the way we
are used to having them rather than some other way. What is to be our
attitude on the mission field? Are we free to try to have things the
way we would like them, and to live, as much as possible, as we would
at home? Or ought we to attempt, as far as we can, to conform to the
way of life of the people among whom we live? This, of course, brings
us to other questions: Does it matter to the people to whom we go
whether we conform or not? And, more important, does it matter insofar
as the progress of the Gospel is concerned? Will our conforming help
to win souls to Christ?

The first thing to be said in answer to these questions is that the
standards of missionary living necessarily must vary with local
conditions. In some places there is a mixture of races and peoples,
each in general keeping with its own customs and dress, and yet mixing
freely with the others. In such places there may be many Westerners,
and Western ways may not only be familiar, but even adopted to a
certain extent by the local people. In situations like this there may
be little or no need for the missionary to change his ordinary way of

Most missionaries go to places where the way of life is different from
their own, and to people to whom their way of life is strange and by
whom it is not understood. It is natural for us to like people who do
things in the way in which we like them done. We are attracted to
those who seem the same as ourselves, and turn (perhaps unconsciously)
from those who seem queer and different. People of other lands are the
same. When we see someone whose complexion, features, clothing,
language, manners, and customs are different from our own, our natural
reaction is to stare, or laugh, or both. It is not natural to be
attracted to those who are different from ourselves. The missionary
wants to attract people. People must be attracted to him before they
can be attracted to his message. They must accept him before they will
accept his message. The more we can conform to their way of life, the
easier and more natural and more rapid their acceptance of us will be.

The report of a China Inland Mission conference of missionaries held
in England a few years ago includes as one of the lessons learned from
past experience of missionary work in China, "the will to conform as
nearly as possible to the social and living conditions of the people
to whom we went." This means, of course, that different missionaries
will live according to different standards. For example, my sister
Frances and I are both members of the China Inland Mission. During the
past few years I have been living in the modern and wealthy city of
Singapore. I lived according to an ordinary middle-class
standard--which meant running water, electricity, gas, and modern
plumbing. I was conforming to the social standards and living
conditions of the people to whom I went. During the same time my
sister was in the Philippines, living in a palm-leaf hut in a clearing
in the jungle, carrying her own water and sleeping on the floor. She
was conforming to the social standards and living conditions of the
people to whom she went. Paul says: "I am become all things to all
men, that I may by all means save some" (I Cor. 9:22). He found what
the present-day missionary finds, that to some extent he must adopt
the way of life and the standard of living of the people to whom he
was sent.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, in what measure will it be desirable to adopt the local way of
life? What principles will guide us? Well, in the first place we will
certainly want to become familiar enough with it so that we feel at
home in their homes. If we find their way of sitting uncomfortable,
and their food unpleasant, they are not going to enjoy having us as
guests. I may think it disgusting to eat my rice off a banana leaf
with my fingers, but if I show that disgust, I probably will not be
invited again. And my hostess may decide that I am merely an
unmannerly foreigner, and that there is no profit in pursuing my
acquaintance, or in listening to the strange stories of Someone called
Jesus that I am so fond of telling. It is also in their homes that we
may become really acquainted with them, and learn to know their needs.
When we have become familiar with how they eat, how they sleep, how
they work, how they play, what they like, what they dislike, what they
hope, what they fear, how they think, how they feel--when we really
understand them, then, and only then, will we be able to present the
Gospel to them in an adequate way.

In the second place, we will want to live in our own homes on the
mission field in such a way as to make our neighbors feel at home when
they come to call on us. The fundamental attraction will not be
externalities and material things. Even though I live in a little hut
that is identical with their own, if in my heart I just do not like to
have them around, they will know it, and they will not be attracted to
me. But if not only the love and the welcome are there, but also a way
of life that corresponds to their own, the approach will be made still

This does not mean, of course, that I will unthinkingly accept all
local standards. If I go to Central Africa, I probably will not decide
that wearing clothes is an unjustifiable luxury. There is no need for
me to neglect to sweep the floor of my palm-leaf hut just because my
neighbors do not sweep theirs. The fact that everyone else chews betel
nut, or plays mah-jongg, does not mean that I will take up these
practices. But I will want, as far as possible, to live the sort of
life that it would be suitable for a native[1] Christian to imitate.

Another point must also be considered here. We missionaries might
voice it like this: "I would love to live as the native peoples do, if
I only could; but I just can't take it!" It is true that we may not be
able to live entirely as they do and keep our health. The man who was
born and bred in the tropics finds the climate just what he likes. The
same climate takes all the energy out of the missionary who has come
from the temperate zone. Foreigners are more susceptible to local
diseases than natives. If the missionary eats only what the local
people do, his health may break down. If he himself does all the
household chores in a land in which there are no modern conveniences,
he may find that he has very little time left in which to study the
language or preach the Gospel. On most mission fields it is found that
a certain amount of variation from the local mode of life is necessary
if the missionaries are to continue in good physical and mental

We can, however, gradually get used to unfamiliar things. I remember
once, after I had been in China a few years, visiting a neighboring
mission station. New workers had arrived there, a young couple fresh
from language school. I was eager to meet them, but they did not
appear. In answer to my inquiry, the reply was, "Oh, they were invited
out to a feast last night, and it's upset them both! They are both in

My heart sank. Whatever use will these young workers be, I thought, if
they can't eat Chinese food? They won't be able to go to the country
and minister in all the little country churches that are so much in
need of help--they can't get Western food there! They had better have
stayed at home!

After a few years had passed, however, the young man mentioned above
did start to do country work, and he did it very acceptably. What is
more, he even came to prefer an ordinary country meal of local food to
the best Western dishes that his wife could give him at home! Seeing
that, I began to realize a thing that should be a comfort to all young
workers who find the food or the living conditions difficult. _Over a
period of time familiarity not only turns difficulty to ease, but
often even removes the "dis" from dislike!_

The young worker goes with an older one to make a call or two.
Everything is new. Everything is strange. Everything is nerve-wearing.
If a seat is offered, it is uncomfortable. If food or drink is
offered, either may be unpleasant. Even if he understands more or less
of what is being said, the conversations are tiring. And by the time
he reaches home he is utterly worn out. As far as he is concerned,
however, that is not the worst. He looks at the older worker who has
taken him out--someone getting on in years, perhaps a bit stooped, and
obviously not in the pink of health. This missionary has done all the
younger one did, and more. He also preached a few times to crowds that
gathered, and he carried on endless conversations, but just listening
made the younger worker tired. Yet this older man somehow has arrived
home as fresh as a daisy!

The new worker, in his first station, often has to go through a stage
in which he finds everything uncomfortable, unattractive, and
difficult, but there is no need for him to become discouraged. Even
that older worker probably did too, although he may have forgotten it!
The change comes slowly, and the young missionary may not be able to
see it for a long time, but if he everlastingly keeps at it, he will
surely find that, after a few years, familiarity has made the
difficult easy. Most people will find, as well, that it has even made
the distasteful pleasant!

       *       *       *       *       *

A mother was coaxing her little daughter to eat her vegetable. "But I
don't like it!" the child objected.

"But you will," encouraged the mother. "Just eat it a few times and
you will get used to it. It won't be long before you really like it!"

The child sat stock-still for a moment, considering. Then she burst
out, "But I don't _want_ to like the horrid stuff!"

Other people's ways, other people's customs, other people's
standards--do we _want_ to like them? Or do we cling tenaciously to
our own, insisting that they are the only good and right ones? It is
the attitude of mind and heart that matters. If we are willing to give
up our own standard of living, willing to live as far as possible
according to someone else's standards, then surely it is the business
of our Master to make that possible in such degree as He sees is
needed and best. Before we go to the field then, let us give up all
right to our own standard of living, and be ready contentedly to
embrace, as far as He makes possible, that of the people to whom He
sends us.


_The Right to the Ordinary Safeguards of Good Health_

     "They must count the cost, and be prepared to live lives of
     privation, of toil, and perhaps of loneliness and danger.
     They will need to trust God to meet their need in sickness
     as well as in health, since it may sometimes be impossible
     to secure expert medical aid. But, if they are faithful
     servants, they will find in Christ and in His Word a
     fulness, a meetness, a preciousness, a joy and strength,
     that will far outweigh any sacrifice they may be called upon
     to make for Him."

                         _--The Overseas Manual of the
                            China Inland Mission
                            Overseas Missionary Fellowship_
                            (1955), p. 4.

I carefully spread a large handkerchief on the desk to keep my arm
from sticking, took up my pen, and began painstakingly to practice
writing the intricate Chinese characters before me. Every few minutes
I stopped to wipe the perspiration from my face.

"How about going out to Uncle Wong's with me?" My sister had come into
the room. "The pastor's wife intended to go with me, but now she has
company and can't go. It will give you a good chance to practice
talking Chinese, so the time won't be wasted--as far as your study
goes, I mean."

We got our umbrellas, palm-leaf fans, and tract bags, and started off.
The sun was beating down, and the temperature certainly was higher
outdoors, but the breeze gave an illusion of coolness, and the
pleasant country road upon which we soon entered was enough to make up
for a little extra heat. The two miles were quickly covered, and we
found ourselves greeted effusively by Mrs. Wong and her daughter.

"Imagine you two teachers coming out here today, when it's so hot! We
are entirely unworthy of such consideration! Why, you might make
yourselves ill, not being used to such heat in your honorable country!
Do sit down and rest! This bamboo bed here in the shade of the house
is a cool spot. Daughter, get the teachers fans. Oh, you have brought
them with you! Yes, fans are indispensable in this weather! Quickly
start the fire, daughter, and heat water for tea! Oh--" a sudden
thought struck her, "we have no tea leaves in the house! Daughter, you
run to the neighbors and borrow some. Don't go to any of these folk
nearby. They are all poor and probably wouldn't have any. Go to Fourth
Aunt's, over in the other end of the village."

At home we always kept a crock of cooled boiled water on hand, but
here there was nothing like that; and drinking unboiled water was as
unthinkable to her as it was to us. We protested vigorously that we
would just as soon have "white tea" (boiling water) as tea made with
leaves, but Mrs. Wong would not hear of such a thing. Suddenly an idea
struck her.

"Oh," she said, "I know something much better! Daughter, just run to
the garden and pick some cucumbers! They'll be better than hot tea
anyway, and quench one's thirst just as effectively."

The daughter ran off. After a few minutes the big son came along with
two brimming buckets of cold well water and poured it into the stone
water butt, which had been almost empty. "Do you prefer to wash your
faces in cold water or hot?" Mrs. Wong asked.

"Oh, cold, please!" we both replied, already feeling in anticipation
that cold water on our hot faces; but Mrs. Wong, conscience-smitten,
was already lighting the fire. "Oh, I shouldn't have asked such a
foolish question!" she rattled on. "Of course cold water won't remove
perspiration. No, no, it's no trouble. It will be warm enough in just
a minute."

The hot water was ladled into the basin, and Mrs. Wong looked
inquiringly around the room. I poked my sister. "She's looking for a
washcloth," I whispered in English. "Quick, tell her we have one, or
she'll be putting their already used one in!"

Fortunately the family washcloth hadn't been discovered by the time
ours was produced; and we proceeded to wash. I, being the younger,
dutifully allowed my sister to use the water first. "Don't wash too
close around your eyes," said my sister in an aside to me. "Someone in
the family might have sore eyes, and there might be germs on the

After we had finished with the basin of hot water, Mrs. Wong took
advantage of it, having found her own washcloth in the meantime. Just
at that moment the daughter returned with her apron full of cucumbers,
and politely offered a large one to my sister. Her mother quickly
snatched it away.

"As big a girl as that, and you don't know anything about hygiene!"
she reproved, sternly. "You haven't even washed them!"

As the cucumbers were being washed with the cold well water, I thought
to myself that they were probably no more germ-free after the bath
than before. Unboiled water from shallow wells is not necessarily free
from germs. I said nothing, however. After the daughter had finished
scrubbing the cucumbers, the mother got a knife and carefully peeled
two big ones. Then she handed them to us. Her own she did not bother
to peel.

"We Chinese are very unhygienic," she apologized. "Of course _you_
wouldn't eat cucumbers without peeling them!"

What would she have thought if she knew that to our minds neither the
washing in cold water nor the peeling made them safe to eat? I glanced
at my sister, who was usually very particular about seeing that all
raw fruits and vegetables were scalded before eating, and was
astonished to find that she was placidly and unconcernedly munching
her cucumber. She and Mrs. Wong were already striking up a lively
conversation about something else. I followed her example, and found
the cucumber very refreshing.

"How can you be so particular about scalding things at home, and then
go out to the country and eat unscalded cucumbers?" I asked, as we
were wending our way home.

"Oh, we couldn't possibly offend Mrs. Wong by refusing to eat what she
had to offer us!" was my sister's reply. "We certainly ought to be as
particular as we can when we are in our own home; but when we are
guests, and it's a question of offending someone--well, I think the
Lord looks after those cases!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Teacups! Beautiful Kingtechen china of the thousand-flower pattern,
thin and exquisite; or perhaps just a rough earthenware cup, with the
handle missing. Everywhere we went in China we found teacups.
Everywhere we went the first thing we were offered was a cup of tea.
Fragrant tea, bitter tea, hot tea, cold tea; tea served in
hand-painted china, tea in an earthenware bowl--whatever the cup was,
we lifted it to our lips and drank. What was the first thing we
thought of as we tasted the tea? Whether it was pleasant or otherwise?
The kindness of the one who offered it to us? Or the dangers that
might lurk on the edge of that cup? For tea, even very hot tea, cannot
be expected to sterilize the rim of the cup; and who knows who used it
previously, or what dangerous disease he might have had? It had been
washed, of course, or at least rinsed out, but--

"Don't the Chinese scald their dishes when they wash them?" you ask.
Well, do you? "M-m-m, not always, but the danger is much less in
America," you say. That may be true; but it is hard to realize the
danger of infection in one's own home, wherever it may be; and even
those who live under what we might call unhygienic conditions are no
more conscious of the danger in their own homes than you are in yours.
I used to think, sometimes, that the most dangerous thing we met with
in China was just an ordinary teacup, and that the germs that lurked
on its rim were more menacing than tigers or bandits. (Let me hastily
add that in all my fifteen years in that country, and having partaken
of tea from ten thousand teacups, more or less, in many places and in
many homes, I am still quite alive, and in good health and spirits!)

"Now, that wouldn't worry me!" you think cheerfully. "I'm just not

I am sorry, but that is not at all the conclusion I want you to draw
from the above remarks. I am giving no one license for not being
careful. No child of God should feel at liberty to disregard what he
knows to be the rules of good health, just because he feels like it,
much less the man or woman on the mission field.

       *       *       *       *       *

The cook comes in with a basket of foodstuffs fresh from the market.
The young missionary spots a particularly luscious plum, picks it up,
and takes a bite.

"Mary!" a scandalized senior gasps. "_Whatever_ are you thinking of?
Eating that plum without scalding it first! You'll likely get cholera
or typhoid and die!"

Yes, in most mission stations the rules of hygiene are adhered to very
strictly, and it would be a hardy junior worker who could come through
alive without observing them.

Perhaps several years have gone by. You are in charge of the home
yourself, and the "discipline" relaxes a bit. Perhaps you even resort
to washing your fruit in cold boiled water instead of scalding it,
because scalding does spoil it so! Then the younger workers are sent
to you, and you become the head of a new family. One day, suddenly,
one of them gets a violently upset stomach. Is it cholera? The nearest
hospital is two days' journey away. You catch your breath, and go
ahead caring for her the best you can with your limited medical
knowledge, a constant cry going up from your heart to the only One who
can help, to Him who is the only all-sufficient One! If you are
fortunate your junior recovers. From that time on, all the fruit that
appears on your table will be thoroughly scalded.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is not a chapter on missionary health. It does not purpose to
instruct you in the rules of hygiene. Rather it inquires into
attitudes. Is the missionary to be as particular as he can about
everything (fussy, some may call it), or should his faith be great
enough so that he overlooks the rules of the doctors? Or perhaps, are
there times when the one attitude is desirable, and times for the

The Lord of the harvest has sent us forth. A dead laborer, or even a
sick one, is not much use. It is surely our duty to take all sensible
precautions, and whenever possible to use the safeguards to health
with which modern science has provided us. We have no right at all to
disobey the rules of hygiene just because we happen to feel like it.
But on the other hand, when those among whom we are ministering,
people whose training is different from ours, who have no conception
of modern hygiene, out of the love in their hearts provide us with
things to eat and drink, surely then is the time to say with Paul,
"asking no questions for conscience' sake" (I Cor. 10:27). Surely in
cases where adhering strictly to the rules of hygiene would hinder the
fulfilling of our commission, we can trust the One who sent us forth
to look after us.


_The Right to Regulate My Private Affairs As I Wish_

     _"Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will
     eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to
     stumble."_--I Corinthians 8:13

"Please, teacher," said a voice at my elbow, "wouldn't you like to
wash your face?"

We were having a week in the country. For the fifth time that day, our
first full day out, there stood the pastor's wife, holding out to me a
basin of steaming water. She had just the right combination of
humility and pride in her manner. I quickly stifled the desire to say,
"I don't want to wash! What in the world do I want to wash my face
five times a day for?" Then I mumbled thanks, and reached wearily for
my washcloth. But a little later I tackled her about it.

"Do you always wash your face as often as this?"

"Why, of course!" was the quick reply. "All clean people do! And I was
brought up in a very clean family."

I let the matter drop, and washed my face (and my feet) as often as
she thought best for the rest of the trip.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grandmother Bay's little granddaughter had just come back from
Shanghai. Grandmother Bay proudly appeared at church accompanied by a
prettily dressed, well-behaved child of about nine. After the service
several of us sat chatting. One old lady looked at the child's pretty
frock, and then gave a quick glance at her grandmother.

"I suppose that's the Shanghai style," was all that she said, but
Grandmother Bay divined her meaning.

"Just what I thought myself!" She quickly caught up the remark. "It's
pretty material, and nicely made--cut a bit closely, but I suppose
those Shanghai tailors do it that way. But the sleeves! Practically no
sleeves at all! It's almost indecent! But you know, she has hardly a
scrap of the material, and I haven't been able to match it. Otherwise
I should have lengthened them immediately. It's too good a garment to
throw away. I don't know what in the world to do about it!"

I sat listening with my mouth open. The child was little enough so
that I would hardly have been surprised to see her running around the
yard with nothing on but a pair of trousers, as many smaller girls
did. (The boys needed still less!) The objectionable sleeves were just
long enough to cover her shoulders. What was wrong with that for a
child of her size?

I looked at the two women, trying my best to understand their point of
view. What I saw made me gasp. In that area the older women all wore
thigh-length loose jackets, and loose trousers, as their regulation
attire. It was warm, and one of the two women had just pulled up her
trouser legs. Her short stockings reached about eight inches above her
ankles, and were held in place by tight round garters. She vigorously
fanned her bare knees as the two, with serious, troubled faces,
continued the conversation about the "indecent" dress.

       *       *       *       *       *

What is decency anyway? In certain groups in India it is not decent
for a woman to show her face, but her bare feet peep from beneath her
long robes. Things that look perfectly all right to us look indecent
to someone else; and things that look indecent to us may look
perfectly all right to someone else!

A young missionary goes inland to her first station. "I'm not going to
look frumpy!" she declares, and takes all her prettiest dresses. When
she comes out in gay colors that are not worn in that backward area,
or in short sleeves when everyone else has elbows duly covered, her
senior missionary attempts to suggest a bit of alteration in her
wardrobe. All suggestions, however, are indignantly rejected. She
plunges enthusiastically into work with the children, using pictures
very effectively to supplement her limited vocabulary. One day her two
favorite scholars do not appear, and she asks her helper, a bright
high school girl, the reason. The embarrassed and evasive answer does
not satisfy, and she keeps after the poor girl until finally she is
told the truth. An hour later her senior missionary finds her weeping
in her room.

"She said," she chokes, "she said----that their mother won't let them
come any more because I----because I can't be a good woman; I dress
like a--a prostitute!"

What is wrong? Why does the eager young missionary have to go through
all this heartache? Just because she is not willing to see with
someone else's eyes. Her own standards are the only right ones. She
learns by hard experience the fact that other people _do_ see things
differently from us, and that it _does_ make a difference. After all,
this is their country, and these are their customs. We cannot expect
them to adjust to ours. It is the foreigner in the strange land who
has to adjust to the ways of that land.

To learn a new language, the ear must be alert to hear just that
little turn with which a sound is pronounced that makes all the
difference between a foreign and a native accent. To become adjusted
to a new people, the eye and the heart must be alert to perceive
clearly, to understand and take in their feelings and their reactions.
May God grant us the seeing eye and the hearing ear!

       *       *       *       *       *

"Oh, they're terribly strict at that Bible school!" someone remarks.
"There are rules about how long your dresses must be, and how you must
wear your hair. I wouldn't stand for it! Why, it's things like that
that give Christianity a bad name!"

Perhaps. At the same time, one who has shown that he is willing to
give up his own standards and conform to someone else's, even though
he may not see the reason for those standards, has shown an attitude
that will take him a long way on the mission field. The "how I do my
hair and what kind of clothes I wear is my own business!" attitude so
frequently met with, both at home and on the field, is not a promising
one. If we have fully given ourselves to Christ, nothing is our own
business--it is all His.


_The Right to Privacy_

     _"There were many coming and going, and they had no leisure
     so much as to eat."_--Mark 6:31

     _"But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with
     compassion for them."_--Matthew 9:36

I had just come back from a strenuous month in the country. Mr. and
Mrs. Sprightly, the young married couple who were in charge of the
mission station, and I were relaxing around the tea table. I told
about the work I had been doing, and answered interested questions.
Finally the talk drifted into lighter channels, and Mrs. Sprightly
told a funny incident she had witnessed the previous day in a
courtyard down the street when she had been out for a walk with her
little boy.

"I always like to have Sonny with me when I go out," she concluded,
philosophically. "When he's along I can stick my nose in anywhere I
like. All I have to do is to say, 'My little boy wants to see what
that is,' and I can wander into their courtyards, or even into their
houses, and nobody thinks anything about it!"

Curiosity is a common trait, and especially so among those who are
uneducated and unsophisticated. Missionaries often find those to whom
they go frankly curious. But, strangely enough, there is something in
many of us that rebels against having one's private life a matter of
common knowledge! The one who has grown up without becoming acquainted
with the meaning of the word _privacy_, on the other hand, may find it
impossible to understand why the missionary desires to be alone once
in awhile!

       *       *       *       *       *

The young missionary hears the sound of Chinese music from somewhere
up the street. To her ears it is weird and unintelligible, but the
children at their play instantly recognize the tune, and raise their
voices in a shout.

"The new daughter-in-law[2] is coming! The new daughter-in-law is

A friendly youngster pokes his head in at the missionary's door.
"Wouldn't you like to come and see the new daughter-in-law?" he asks
politely. "The sedan chair is just arriving. Hurry!"

"But--dear me!" protests the missionary. "Whose home is this new
daughter-in-law coming to? Is it a family we are acquainted with?"

"Oh, _that_ doesn't matter!" the boy assures her. "Why, everybody goes
to see a new daughter-in-law!"

The missionary, reluctantly allowing herself to be pulled along by the
hand, finds it even as the child has said. Crowds of children, and
older people too, are swarming in at the open gateway through which
has just passed the gaily decorated sedan chair. Though the courtyard
is fairly commodious, it is packed with people, talking,
gesticulating, pushing to get a better vantage point from which to
view the bride when she alights. The groom and his parents are
graciously welcoming invited guests, entirely unconcerned about all
the hubbub. The bridal chair is set down to a great popping of
firecrackers, the appointed welcome committee of several girls and one
older woman draws the curtain and assists the bride to her place in
the yard, and the ceremony proceeds. After it is completed, the bride
is escorted with much formality into the house, and to the bedroom
prepared for her, where she is seated upon a bed resplendent with red
satin quilts. Then the guests, invited and uninvited, pour into the
room. They subject the bride and her clothes to an interested and
careful scrutiny, commenting upon everything, with much joking and
laughter. As soon as one group gets tired and takes its leave,
another is ready to push in and view the "new daughter-in-law."

"The poor girl!" says the missionary. "She looks ready to drop! When
will they ever leave her to herself?"

Not until late that night--and the same performance will start again
early the next morning. Why, if there were not a continuous stream of
visitors for three days, the wedding would be thought rather a flop!

       *       *       *       *       *

The day had been a busy one. The first visitor had appeared before
breakfast, a precursor of a seemingly never-ending stream. There were
uneducated country women, whose curiosity could only be satisfied by
going through every room in the missionary's house and minutely
examining each article that met their eyes. There were those who were
educated and formally polite, and dexterously steered the conversation
into other channels every time we endeavored to present the claims of
Christ to them. There were Christians, some coming with their
troubles, others with plans for forwarding the work of the church, and
still others with requests for us to set a time when we could go with
them to call upon their unsaved friends or relatives.

Finally at four-thirty, after we had ushered out a couple of callers,
we returned, for the first time that day, to an empty room.

"Come, quickly!" I said to my sister. "Let's go out for a walk before
someone else comes!" I felt as though I would go crazy if I did not
get away--away anywhere, just so it was a place where we could be
alone. We hurriedly slipped out the back gate, around the pond,
through the back streets, and out the city gate.

"Which way do you want to go?" my sister asked.

"Oh, just anywhere into the country," I said immediately, "where there
aren't any people!"

My sister stood stock-still, looking at me in amazement. "Aren't any
people!" she repeated. "Aren't any people! _Where_ in China do you
think you'll find a place where there aren't any people?"

I stood still and looked around me. The flat countryside was dotted
with villages, and crisscrossed with paths. Farmers were busy plowing
their tiny fields. Coolies in groups of two and three were returning
home from the city, scattering in all directions along the many
footpaths. People, people everywhere, even out there in the country!
These were the people whom I had come to China to seek; yet if I could
only get away from them for a few hours! If there were only some
wooded gully or mountain thicket where I could be out of sight of
everyone! But there were no mountains; the country was as flat as a
tabletop. I mentally searched the familiar countryside for a place of
refuge. Good, fertile land, cut up into tiny fields; well-kept crops,
with not a weed anywhere; here and there a little grove of
trees--surely in among the trees we could be out of sight! But no!
There was no undergrowth, no weeds, not even any fallen leaves. All
had been gathered, carefully dried, and put in the fuel pile. Why, if
a strong wind came up in the night, the owner of the trees would rise
from bed and hurry out to sweep up the precious leaves as soon as they
fell, just so no unscrupulous neighbor could come and steal them
before daylight! And all the lower branches of the trees had long
since been trimmed off for fuel. A grove of trees would hide me from
the sight of no one, and there was no better place.

The full force of an unpleasant fact suddenly hit me, a fact that I
had never before completely realized. There was absolutely no place
that I could go to be alone! The best that I could do was to go home
to the mission station, into the house, up to my room, and close the
door. Even then, who knew how soon someone would call me?

Then, in a flash, a little story I had read in a magazine long before
came to my mind. A friend dropped in to visit a busy mother. The
family was large and poor, and they lived in only one room. It seemed
to the visitor that the one room was swarming with children. The
mother met her with a beaming face.

"But how can you be so happy," asked the visitor, "when you can never
get a minute to be alone? How can you find quiet even to pray?"

"It used to trouble me," was the quick reply, "until I found out the
secret. When things get too much for me, I just throw my apron up over
my head, and I am all alone with the Lord."

Dear Lord, forgive me! I thought. What about _that_ poor mother? And
what about the Lord Jesus? He wanted solitude just as we do, and He
went with His disciples across the lake to an out-of-the-way spot to
be quiet. The multitudes heard where He was going and followed by
land. When He stepped from the boat, there were thousands upon
thousands waiting for Him. How did _He_ react? Was there anger in His
heart, or resentment, at never being allowed to be alone? No; for it
says that when He saw the multitudes, He welcomed them (Luke 9:11).
Dear Lord, give me that same heart of love for the multitudes!

       *       *       *       *       *

Privacy and solitude are good things, no doubt--in moderation. Most
missionaries get less of them than they would desire. There are
probably few missionaries who have not been irritated at one time or
another when their houses and their persons were subjected to amazed,
or delighted, or even half-contemptuous scrutiny by the curious.
_Can't they have the decency to keep out of what is my own private
business?_ the missionary thinks. Yet if we belong to the day, if we
are children of light, why should any act of ours, or anything
belonging to us, need to be hidden in the dark? This is not to
recommend a needless parading of things that normal people prefer to
be reserved about. Let us remember, however, that people must come to
know us before they can accept our message, or before our testimony
has any value to them. Why should I desire to keep hidden _anything_
that has to do with myself--_if the sharing of that thing might help
to draw someone to the Saviour?_



_The Right to My Own Time_

     "_Come now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into
     this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain:
     whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.... For that
     ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and
     do this or that._"--James 4:13-15

"Mrs. Ning and I are going out to see Grandma Woo, who has been sick.
Wouldn't you like to come too?"

I was sitting at my desk, with all the paraphernalia of Chinese study
spread out before me. I looked at my desk, looked at the clock, looked
at my sister, and then asked, "How soon will you be back?"

"Oh, we shouldn't be too long! Of course Mrs. Ning walks slowly, with
her small[3] feet; but it's only a mile, and we don't need to stay
very long. You never know, but we ought to be home in plenty of time
for dinner."

Well, I thought to myself, I suppose I ought to go; but I wanted to
finish translating this chapter, and I'll be doing well to get it
done in three hours. And I had thought that I'd get it finished this
morning, and be able to write letters this afternoon. Still--

Unfortunately for my peace of mind, I knew two things. One was that my
sister thought that I ought to go, and the other was that she was

"Well," I said finally, "I'll go; but let's not stay long."

We got our sun hats, joined Mrs. Ning, and started off. Her feet were
not more than six inches long, and she _did_ take such tiny steps! Try
as I would to walk slowly, I continually found myself going ahead of
the other two. My sister by nature is in more of a hurry to get things
done than I. Still, here she was, wandering along beside Mrs. Ning as
if she had all the time in the world, listening intently to a tale
about Mrs. Ning's third aunt's cousin, and putting in sympathetic
interjections and questions now and then.

I could not seem to get interested in the story, even though Mrs. Ning
was telling how she had tried to get this third aunt's cousin to bring
his troubles to the Saviour. I could not understand all of what she
said, and was unable to keep up with all the ins and outs of the poor
cousin's troubles, so finally I gave up trying. It was a beautiful
day. The sky was blue, and the wheat, high and greenish-gold, rippled
in the wind. We turned off the road and followed a little path
running through the wheat fields. My sister almost unconsciously began
slipping the full heads of grain through her fingers, one after the
other, as she passed. She always loved the wheat, and so did I, but
somehow today I did not want to touch it. I only wished that we would

At last we arrived at the village, and made our way to the home of old
Mrs. Woo. As usual, a crowd of dirty, staring youngsters followed us
into the house. We sat on benches that were about eight inches wide,
and sipped "tea" that could be called so only by courtesy; since,
having no tea leaves, they had instead just put a few slices of raw
sweet potato into the kettle when it went on the fire. Old Mrs. Woo
was up and around again, and feeling lively.

"I'm so glad you've come! I've been telling my neighbors all about the
Lord Jesus, and how they ought to believe in Him, but I'm afraid I
don't do it quite right. Now that you've come you can tell them! Here,
you, Kitten," speaking to one of the crowd of children that had
followed us into the house, "you run home and get your grandma to
come. And you, Girlie, your second great-aunt said that she wanted to
believe. Run fast and tell her that the teachers have come. All of you
youngsters, you scoot home as fast as you can and get your mothers and
grandmothers to come and listen to the doctrine!"

It took quite a lot of persuasion to get the children to go; and
perhaps the mothers and grandmothers were busy. We waited in vain for
quite awhile, but finally in came three or four women, one with a
cloth shoe sole she was quilting, and another carrying a baby. After
quite a bustle, they were all seated and given bowls of tea. Then out
came the poster that my sister always carried, and the Gospel was
explained to them in very simple words. With great effort I managed to
keep my mind on the message, and understood most of it. I
congratulated myself internally. At last I had successfully wrested my
mind from the absorbing but uncomfortable subject of all the things
that I had wanted to get done that day!

The preaching was finished. The women got up to go, assuring us that
they would come with Mrs. Woo to church the next Sunday. We got up
too, and started to say good-by.

"What! Go home!" said Mrs. Woo. "Who could think of such a thing! Of
course you'll stay for dinner with me! Why, it's almost ready!" (We
knew perfectly well that the only womenfolk in the family were herself
and her daughter-in-law, and that neither had left the room since the
tea had been brought in.)

My sister and Mrs. Ning protested, and even I managed to add a few
polite words. But my thoughts were not so courteous. Stay for dinner!
What an idea! Why, that would mean that we would not be home before
the middle of the afternoon at the earliest! And besides, the meal
would probably be some miserable stuff that I could hardly force down!
Oh, well, likely she was only asking us in order to be polite, and did
not really mean it!

With great difficulty we made our way toward the door. Mrs. Woo and
her daughter-in-law hung on us until we could hardly move, protesting
loudly that they would not think of letting us leave. My blood began
to boil. I guess we had the right to go home when we wanted to! They
were actually trying to force us to stay! Well, I would not stay in
any case now! This was just too much!

We had reached the open door, and just then caught sight of an old
woman hobbling rapidly across the yard toward us.

"Oh, Girlie's second great-aunt!" called Mrs. Woo. "Here you are at
last! Why didn't you come sooner?"

"Well, I had company, and I just couldn't get away. But finally my
daughter-in-law came back, and I left them with her and came as
quickly as I could. I was so afraid that the teachers would be gone.
But, oh, surely you're not leaving?"

"Oh, no, of course they're not leaving! You don't think that I would
let them come under my roof and not keep them to a meal! It will be
nothing like they're used to, of course; but still a meal is a meal!
Now, just sit down, teachers, please, and Mrs. Ning. Girlie's second
great-aunt has wanted to believe for some time, but her son is very
mean to her, and he won't let her go to church. Do you think that she
could believe at home?"

I could not believe my eyes. My sister and Mrs. Ning sat down
obediently and began to talk very sympathetically with the old woman
who had just come. What! Were they actually going to stay to dinner?
And not a word to me, just as if what I wanted did not matter at all!
_They_ could talk to this old lady, and tell her about the Lord, but
all _I_ could do was just sit! Of course I was supposed to listen; but
one could not put her brain to listening to this queer Chinese _all_
day long! And what about all those things that I had wanted to get

The dinner was no better than I expected. In fact, it was worse.
Girlie's second great-aunt stayed too, upon urging, and they all
talked on and on. They were trying to teach her a little prayer, and
she was so stupid! Over and over and over, and still she could not say
it by herself.

Finally, when I had given up all hope--I had sat in stony silence all
the afternoon--we got up, made our farewells, and started home. The
sun was setting as we entered our front gate. I was tired (why, I did
not know; I had not done a thing all day), hungry (I had not been able
to eat much of the dinner, no matter how it had been urged upon me),
and disgusted. And the worst of it was that it did not seem to bother
my sister a particle. She took it all as a matter of course. Was this
what I was going to have to go through; what I had come to China for?
For I began slowly to realize that today's experience was not just one
isolated incident; it was likely to happen any day in the year.
Something was wrong somewhere. What?

Suddenly it came over me. It was only that I had had my day all
planned out, and did not want my plans interfered with. Because they
had been interfered with, I had done nothing but sulk. All the things
I might have enjoyed I had not enjoyed at all. I had made myself
miserable for a whole day, just because my time had been disposed of
by someone else, and not by me.

"Dear Lord," I said, "I'm not going to go through this again! I know
it was really You who disposed of my day when I wanted to do something
else with it! Give me an open mind, Lord, so that whenever I go to the
country, whenever I start a new day, I'll be able to accept whatever
comes, and rejoice in it!"

It is amazing how much difference a little thing like one's mental
attitude can make. After that, when I went to the country, I never
took with me any preconceived notions of what time I would return. I
might get back home for my noon meal, or I might get back by sunset,
or I might even stay overnight--what difference did it make? My time
belonged to the Lord, and it was up to Him to dispose of it. I found
that with this attitude of mind I could go anywhere, take advantage of
any opportunities offered, stay more time or less time than I had
expected, and still enjoy every moment, because God had planned it,
and had worked it out in the best possible way.[4]


_The Right to a Normal Romance, If Any_

I was in the CIM Mission Home in Vancouver, B. C., an accepted
candidate. In two more weeks I was to sail for China, the land where
three of my sisters were already laboring as missionaries. One had
been out for six years, had been married while on the field, and was
almost ready for furlough. The other two sisters had been out a
shorter period. They were both single, and stationed together. That
day I had received a letter from them written from a little hill
resort operated by our Mission, where they and others had gone to
escape the worst of the summer heat. Now, for missionaries, a summer
resort is the most common place for a romance to develop! The letter
was a gay description of their life there, and ended with the
following sentence:

"There are thirty-three of us here now: seven married couples with
nine children, nine single ladies, and one single man! There is one
more single man expected, we hear, but even at that, I'm afraid there
isn't much hope for us!"

The dinner bell rang, and I hurried down. But who was that elderly
couple in the old-fashioned clothes? Perhaps I had been told that they
were to arrive that day, but if so I had not remembered it. They were
introduced all around the circle--missionaries who had just come from
China! We sat down, and I found myself beside the lady.

"What did they say your name was?" she asked, apologetically. "I have
such a time remembering names."

I told her, and she immediately pricked up her ears. "Williamson!" she
said. "Don't you have a sister in China?"

"Yes, I have three there," I replied.

"Well, isn't that a coincidence! When I was in Shanghai I heard--no,
you couldn't have heard it yet, for the news was just out--I'm _sure_
it must have been your sister! Anyway, just before we left Shanghai
there was a great hubbub about the news of a new engagement, and I'm
almost certain--Dear," turning to her husband, "who was it that we
heard was engaged, just before we left Shanghai?"

Her husband did not remember. "Well, I'm almost sure it was your
sister, anyway!" she declared.

"My sister! But it couldn't be!" I replied rather dazedly, thinking of
the letter I had just received. "Which one? What was her first name?"

Unfortunately she could not remember that, nor did she know that
there were two Miss Williamsons in China. And as for the name of the
man--she had no idea about that, either. The whole thing seemed
extremely vague, and altogether unlikely, and I dismissed it from my

A week later I received another letter from my two sisters. To my
amazement I read the news that the younger of them had just become
engaged to the single man who had arrived at the hill resort the day
after the previous letter was written!

After I had partly recovered from the shock, my mind went back to what
I had heard of the courtship of my married sister, also in China. The
man who later became her husband was stationed at a place a thousand
miles from where she was. They had been very slightly acquainted when
they were in Bible institute in America, six or seven years before.
Suddenly he started writing to her, and after two or three letters,
asked her to marry him. When she went down to Shanghai for the
wedding, practically all she knew of him was from his letters.

The other sister, who went with her at that time, told me later that
when they went to the railway station in Shanghai to meet the expected
groom, who did not arrive until the day after they did, she almost had
heart failure. After they went to bed that night she could not go to
sleep for thinking, "What if she shouldn't want to marry him, now
that she's seen him! I'm sure _I_ wouldn't!"

Succeeding days set her mind at rest, however, for it was quite
evident that the promised bride _did_ want to marry him--and so it
turned out all right after all!

       *       *       *       *       *

"What a strange family you come from!" you say. "Your sisters rush
into marriage in such a precipitous way!"

No, not at all. Such courtships are fairly common among missionaries.
The reason for this is obvious. There is very little opportunity on
the mission field for becoming acquainted with eligible persons of the
opposite sex. Unless the missionary is prepared to give up his calling
in order to marry, his range of choice is necessarily limited to other
missionaries; and missionaries, when at work, are usually widely
scattered. Most of our mission stations had only one household, with
only two, three, or four missionaries. Obviously, it would not be very
likely that two single workers of opposite sex would be included in
the group; to say nothing of the fact that such an allocation of
workers would normally be considered highly unconventional! Usually
single women workers were sent to one station, and a man (or men, if
there were that many) to another. Missionary travel, except for going
to a summer resort, was usually confined to one's own district, and
missionaries working outside that district met very infrequently.

Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the
restriction which local custom puts upon social mingling of the sexes
in heathen lands. Most missionaries live in near contact with the
people, and it is only right that they should do so. The missionary
who prefers to withdraw from the people is not likely to make many
converts. Local people, both Christian and heathen, are encouraged to
come freely into the missionary's home, and much of his work may be
done by just such quiet contacts. The missionaries come in as
strangers. They present a new way of life. Is it any wonder that, as
much as is possible, everything that they do is watched? Sometimes the
watching is in order to criticize; sometimes it is in order to
imitate; but always they are watched. If what the watchers see seems
good to them, they may give themselves to the One about whom the
missionaries preach. If they see things that offend them, they may
stumble and turn away. Because of this, local conventions _must_ be
taken into consideration; and in many heathen lands what we would call
only ordinary friendliness between two persons of opposite sex would
be looked upon not only with disapproval, but even with suspicion.

Mission rules in regard to such matters are usually very strict, as
the following quotation from _The Overseas Manual of the China Inland
Mission Overseas Missionary Fellowship_ (1955) will show!

     It is important that the missionary in his daily life among
     Eastern peoples should maintain a standard of dignity and
     courtesy which is essentially Christian and not merely
     Western. It must be remembered that a careless disregard of
     local conventions will give offense to nationals whose good
     opinion is of value, and may prove a serious hindrance to
     the progress of the Gospel. Great care should be taken
     particularly by lady workers when extending hospitality to
     missionary brethren or _vice versa_, lest any action lead to
     misunderstanding and injury to the work. Engaged couples
     should also be especially careful of their deportment,
     remembering that they will be setting a standard of behavior
     for young Christians no longer bound by old conventions and
     looking, perhaps, for guidance to their missionary
     friends.... Engaged couples will not be designated to work
     in the same center (pp. 21, 22).

So, between the limitation that a narrow circle of eligible
acquaintances sets, and the restriction entailed in conforming to
local custom, young missionaries may often feel that the chance for
any normal kind of romance is snatched from them. Small wonder that
the summer resort and the post office, the two avenues of courtship
left open to them, are speedily utilized, and that engagements are
often made on what would seem at home to be too short acquaintance!
If _you_ knew that you had only a few weeks in which to become better
acquainted and do your courting, and that when those few weeks had
passed each would return to his own station, with no opportunity of
meeting again for at least another year, perhaps you would speed
things up too!

If the choice of a life partner were a matter to be decided purely "on
one's own," then this sort of situation on the mission field might
lead to many a tragedy. Thank God, that is not the case! After all, He
is the One whom we want to make the choice for us, and He can be
depended upon. Certainly any young missionary should make this a
matter of definite prayer. If God has chosen the two for each other,
He will see to it that they meet; and He will bear witness in their
hearts as to His leading, so that they need not hesitate or fear. If
we set our hearts on some certain thing, irrespective of whether or
not it is His will, disaster will result. If we commit the matter
entirely to Him, and trust Him to work out His own perfect will, we
can go ahead, with confidence, knowing that the union (if He indicates
it) will be as the path of the just, that "shineth more and more unto
the perfect day." If anyone doubts this, let him look at any
missionary couple. In spite of all the difficulties and dangers, the
percentage of happily married couples must be greater among
missionaries than it is anywhere else!

To any thinking young person, another problem, not yet discussed, must
be evident. If there are twice as many single women as single men on
the mission field (and there are), some of the women must either marry
men who are not missionaries, and so leave the field, or else remain
single. The shortage of men on the mission field is often deplored,
and it is true that in many cases the work would be better off with a
larger proportion of men. I shall always remember, however, hearing
one of my sisters say: "Before I came to the mission field I thought
that the reason there were more women than men on the field was that
more of the women were wholly consecrated to the cause of Christ; but
after I had been out for some time I changed my mind. Now I believe
that God calls more women than men because _more women are needed_."

The army of unmarried women missionaries on the field is there, not
because there happen to be more women than men on the field, and,
since we do not believe in polygamy, some were left over; but because
there is a work that they can do that no one else can. Most men need
wives, and the fact that a man has a wife and family is more of a help
than a hindrance in most types of missionary work. A man missionary
can leave his family for weeks or months, and even though married, he
can engage in the arduous itineration that is often necessary. But a
married woman missionary, as soon as she becomes a mother, is bound to
her children, and that usually means that she bound to her home. She
can engage in missionary work in the place where she lives, but she
cannot travel easily. She cannot go out for weeks or months with a
women's evangelistic band. She cannot go from church to church,
holding Bible classes for the women. In many places, when teams of men
workers go about, the women are left almost untouched. There must be
women workers to reach the women. There is plenty of work for the
married woman missionary to engage in; but there are certain types of
work which her responsibilities will not allow her to undertake.

"That's the type of work I want to do!" declares one young woman. "To
spend weeks and months in the country villages, living in the people's
homes and really becoming one with them--that's the only work that
counts! _I_ shall never be married."

"Oh," says another, "I'm sure there is much work a married woman can
do that would be impossible to the single woman. Anyway, I wasn't cut
out for a spinster! It doesn't matter if there _are_ only half as many
men as women; _some_ of the women get married, and I'll be one of the

Well, friends, both of you are wrong. It's not up to you to say what
sort of work you want to do, and it's not up to you to say whether you
will be married, or one of the single crowd. Since most girls want to
be married, it is a good thing for each to face the possibility that
God _might_, for a reason, want her to remain single; but that does
not mean that I am encouraging anyone to take a vow of celibacy! I
know of one young woman missionary who told various fellow workers,
and even some of the local Christians, that she was never going to get
married. The Lord began to deal with her--at the same time that a
young man was laying siege to her heart! She finally surrendered to
the Lord, and gave up her cherished dreams of the kind of missionary
career she had mapped out for herself. A few years later she was a
happy missionary wife and mother!

Most of the above is particularly directed to young women, but it may
apply to young men as well. In a limited number of cases it may be
necessary for men to remain single, particularly those who engage in
pioneer work of a sort that would be impossible for women. This
probably means giving up anything that could rightly be called a
"home." Even where two single men are together, "batching it" is
usually a sorry business; but when the call of the Lord comes, He will
give grace. In that respect it is much easier for women. Two
unmarried women can live together and make a home that seems like a
home; most men do not seem to have that gift!

The advantages and disadvantages of the single woman missionary, as
over and against those of the married woman (or vice versa) are often
debated. The single woman certainly has the advantage in being able to
give all her time and energy to the work, though the married woman can
give help to married women in a way that an unmarried woman cannot. It
is not a matter for anyone to decide arbitrarily. Remember that "each
man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another
after that" (I Cor. 7:7). Whatever God has called us to do, we _can_
do. Each state has its own blessings. When one sees the "trouble in
the flesh" (I Cor. 7:28, K.J.V.) that bringing up children on the
mission field entails,[5] it is almost enough to make one feel that
the single state is the easier. It _is_ easier in some ways, of
course. Yet remaining single is not easy either. Every human heart
longs for someone to "belong to," and perhaps the hardest thing that
the single missionary has to face is that she can never, never say to
anyone, "I'm going to stay with you."


_The Right to a Normal Home Life_

     "After marriage a lady worker continues to be a missionary
     in active service and her changed status will afford new
     opportunities for service. She will need rightly to
     apportion time to language study, home duties and her
     calling as a missionary. This will require changes in
     outlook and habits, but if the responsibilities of married
     life have been prayerfully accepted the varying claims on
     time and strength will not result in a permanent conflict of

     "The establishing of a Christian home should be for the
     glory of God and the spread of the Gospel. One danger to be
     avoided is that of missionaries becoming so absorbed in
     their home as to neglect an active ministry amongst the
     people to whom they have been called. It is the mutual
     responsibility of both husband and wife to see that each
     does not hinder the other from fulfilling his or her
     ministry. Where there are children, it is recognized that
     new responsibilities are involved, but care should be taken
     that family claims do not monopolize the time and energies
     of either parent. Children who grow up in an atmosphere of
     loving yet firm discipline are not only a joy to their
     parents but an asset to the work of the Gospel. But when
     children are over-indulged or uncontrolled, whether on the
     field or at home, serious harm to God's cause as well as to
     the reputation of the Mission may result."

                         _--The Overseas Manual of the
                            China Inland Mission
                            Overseas Missionary Fellowship_
                            (1955), p. 22.

What a wonderful thing is a Christian home! What a privilege to be
able to establish, among thousands of darkened, pagan homes, one that
is truly Christian; and to be able to live out the love of Christ in
actual family relationships before people who know nothing of it!

This privilege has not been given to me. The Lord has not led me in
that path. And yet, as I have observed many young couples on the
mission field, and older ones too, I have been able to see a little of
the price they have had to pay. The outsider, looking on, saw only the
love and blessing that radiated from these homes. But as I lived in
some of them, I found that these young couples were faced with
constant problems, and even frustrations, and I wondered whether or
not I could have overcome all obstacles in the gallant way in which
they did.

Shall we take a look at the sort of thing a young married couple on
the mission field has to face? We will call them John and Mary, and
make them just ordinary folk who meet the kind of situations most
young missionaries meet.

       *       *       *       *       *

A home of her own--that was what Mary longed for. She and John had
been married a few months before leaving for the field, had studied
for a term in language school, and now were living with an older
married couple until their acquaintance with the language and the
customs of the people was enough to warrant their being sent to a
station of their own. Mary found the language easy, but John found it
hard; and they had been on the field for more than two years before
their desire for a home of their own was realized. It was just as well
for Mary that she was quick with the language. Little David was born
when they had been out only a year, and looking after David meant that
she had several hours less each day for study than John had.

When they finally got to their new station, they were surprised to
find that long, uninterrupted hours for language study, which they
still needed, were almost impossible. There was a little church in the
place to which they had been sent, and of course they wanted to do
what they could, with their limited language, to help. They found a
language teacher, but he was not as good as their previous one. Mary
had a girl to help her in the house, but she was untrained, and for
the first few months Mary thought that it was more work training her
than it would have been to do the work herself. They had many
visitors, both Christians and others. John loved to sit and talk with
the men who came, and although his facility in the use of the spoken
language developed, the progress he made in the book work required by
the course of study was extremely slow. Mary often longed to shoo the
men visitors out the door, lead John into his study, set him down at
his desk, and shut him in with his books!

With the care of the baby and the responsibility for the home
devolving upon her, it was a good thing that Mary did enjoy study. She
often said that she thought the Lord gave her, as a young mother,
special help with the language, because He knew how much she had to
do! Because she was so busy, however, she often sat up later at night
over her books than was good for her health, and she became tired and
worn out. The flu came along, and she was an easy victim. Poor John!
He had to be nurse, housekeeper, and baby-tender, all at the same
time. The thing that worried Mary the most about being ill was that
she was keeping John from his studies.

Mary was not entirely back to normal health when David's little sister
was born. What a darling she was! Before her illness, Mary had been
giving a short Bible talk at the women's meeting every other week;
but now it seemed impossible to find time for the hours of preparation
such a talk entailed. Because of her slow recovery it was finally
decided that she and the children must go to a hill resort earlier
than usual that summer. When she returned, she was horrified to
realize that it had been six months since she had given a message in
the native language.

She was feeling much better in every way, however, and settled down to
"get back into the work." The girl who helped her had developed
nicely, and now the two children could be entrusted to her care. In
spite of John's slowness at the language, he had always been able to
make himself understood, and the little church was growing. With his
encouragement, they had started a preaching band, and went to nearby
towns and villages with the Gospel. Sometimes they stayed away for
several weeks at a time. They insisted that John accompany them; and
indeed, he would not have been happy anywhere else. But more and more
Mary found herself left alone at home with the children. Where was the
happy home that she had wanted to establish for John? He was as dear
and as kind as ever when she saw him--but he was away so much! And
during the times he was at home, there were often visitors to see him.
On evenings when there were no visitors she always longed to say,
"Come and sit in the easy chair, John, and we'll have a cozy time
together," but her Puritan conscience usually overcame the promptings
of her heart, and instead she would look at the clock and say
brightly, "Oh, there's still time for you to get in an hour or two of
study! Isn't that nice!"

The time passed rapidly. John _did_ persevere with his language study,
and very slowly got off the required examinations. Mary never had as
much time as he did for study, but she usually kept ahead of him in
the book work. She did not dream of trying to rival him in his
knowledge of the spoken colloquial! At first she used to save up her
problems for him to deal with, but she found that when he returned
from a country trip he was always so tired that she did not like to
burden him, and soon she was struggling alone with most of them. The
children grew rapidly, and usually kept in health, although there were
several occasions when they had serious illnesses. At such times she
would realize afresh that, although the nearest fully qualified doctor
was several days' journey away, the Great Physician was always near!

When David was four, two new missionaries, fresh from their term at
language school, were sent to be with them--two bright, happy girls,
whom Mary welcomed with all her heart. The care of the larger
household took more time, but she did not grudge it. One was quick at
the language, and one was slow. When the discouraged one would come
with her troubles, Mary would comfort her by telling her that John had
been slow too! The two girls became very fond of the children. Mary
was almost overscrupulous about not allowing them to disturb the two,
who were supposed to be giving all their time and effort to language
study. The quick one, Alice, raced through two language exams, and
then had a week in the country with the women's evangelistic team
(organized a year previously, Mary being one of the chief promoters).
It was what Mary had longed to do herself ever since the band was
started, but--well, she had her babies! After all, they _were_ the
most precious children in the world! But when Alice returned, bubbling
over with the novelties and thrills of a week in the country
(fortunately she was not afflicted with a delicate digestion, and
could eat anything with relish--and comfort!), poor Mary, had all she
could do to "rejoice with them that do rejoice." Afterward, in the
privacy of her own room (John was not at home, and the children were
asleep), she finally let go, and the sobs came--stifled by the
bedclothes, so that the children would not be awakened.

And then it was time for furlough! The homeland seemed strange at
first, but they soon got used to things. Everyone was extremely kind,
and showered them with gifts. The meeting with loved ones and friends
was all that they had expected; but the strain of living with their
children in other people's homes (even though they were the homes of
their own dear ones) made things difficult. The relatives constantly
petted the children, and discipline became a problem. Finally they
were able to get an apartment of their own for a few months, and David
started kindergarten. John was constantly in demand as a deputation
speaker, and he traveled back and forth, speaking in many places.
Sometimes Mary thought, with a sigh, that she saw less of him on
furlough than she had on the field!

Certainly they were having a wonderful time at home, but still it
would be nice to get back to the field again! Then, with the thought,
came a stab of pain--for she knew that when that time arrived it would
mean sending little David off to school. The school for missionaries'
children was a long way from their part of the field, and the most
they could hope for after that was to have David during the summers,
and on their furloughs. Her little David! Going so far from home,
among strangers! Perhaps she could keep him awhile, and teach him at
home. If only the leaders of the Mission were not so strict about
insisting that all children of school age be sent to the school for
missionaries' children! What did they know of a mother's love for her
little boy? But before this thought was fully formed, her heart was
reproving her. Of course they knew. Most of them had children of their
own. It was all for the children's good. She had no training for
teaching, and look how busy she had always been! Wherever did she
think she would get time to teach David?

Besides, her mind ran on, David needed to be with other children of
his own age and race, and to get the "give-and-take" that school life
provides. Kindergarten had already been a help. And on the field there
were so many other difficulties! While they were still there, she had
tried her best not to let David feel that he was different from, or
superior to, the children he played with; but she just couldn't let
him do all the things that they did. And he had always wanted to know,
why--why couldn't he wipe his nose on the back of his hand, as all the
other children did? Why did he have to go to bed at a certain hour,
when all the other children stayed up as long as they wished? She
certainly had never said, "It's because you are an American, and we
are different," but somehow David had seemed to acquire that sort of
attitude, and to feel that he was superior to the local children. She
still remembered how helpless she had felt in trying to deal with the

Well, it did seem that sending him away to school would be necessary
if he were not to grow up proud and overbearing. Then too, she
remembered the day she had to spank him because he had become angry
and shouted at one of his little playmates in very filthy language.
Where had he learned those words? (He had picked up the language, good
and bad alike, without even trying!) She wouldn't even have known what
the words meant, but she had overheard the Bible woman scolding him,
and had gone out to see what was wrong. The Bible woman hadn't wanted
to tell her, but she would not be satisfied until she did. No, if her
boy was going to learn filth like that by being inland with her, there
was no help for it--he must go to school. "Dear Lord," she prayed,
"You know what's best, and I suppose he's got to go; but, oh, Father,
it's like tearing my heart out to send him!"

The time came. John and Mary went back to the field. David went off to
school, bravely choking down the sobs, but with a pathetic, lost look
in his eyes that stabbed his parents' hearts. They tried to forget it,
and to rejoice in the thought of soon meeting again the dear group of
Christians in their old station. But, no! A sudden call came, an
urgent call to a hard place, in an entirely different part of the
field. After much discussion and prayer, it was settled. There was no
chance to go to their old station, even for a visit. Soon they were
far away, among strangers, living in two rented rooms, and trying to
straighten out a very difficult church situation, the like of which
they had never before experienced.

       *       *       *       *       *

Stories end, but life goes on and on. And the human mind always seems
to magnify the present difficulties, and glamorize the possible
future. John and Mary thought that they had it rather hard their first
term, and that the second would be easier; but when the second term
actually began, and they looked back on the first, they thought it had
been nothing but child's play!

Looking at that first term objectively, we can see that John and Mary
really did have a relatively easy time. For one thing, they lived in
only two places all that time. For one reason or another missionaries
often have to move time and again. Someone who is doing an absolutely
indispensable job breaks down and must go home on furlough, and you
are the only one who can take over. Or the work is being expanded, and
the older workers are scattered farther afield as new ones come in.
Perhaps there is a war, and your station is in the fighting area, and
you have to evacuate. Whatever the reason is, suddenly you find
yourself in the midst of breaking up your home, packing and moving,
and then settling in a new place, finding new people and problems
with which to get acquainted, and perhaps a new dialect to learn.

Other things had been comparatively easy for John and Mary too, that
first term. They did not have any fellow workers who were "difficult."
It was not their lot to start work in virgin territory, or where the
people were unfriendly. They did not get into any difficult church
situations. The church people were eager to co-operate with them, and
quick to profit by their teaching and example. Even in the matter of
health, they did not have a more than average amount of illness. And
the story of their accomplishments during that first term could truly
be used as a model for the young missionary's emulation!

This is not to say that John and Mary had no difficulties.
Difficulties are the normal thing on the mission field, and they had
their share. But they met their difficulties, and they made good. How?
Chiefly by giving up some of their "rights," and foremost among the
rights they gave up was their chance for a normal home life. There was
rarely an evening when John was at home and without a visitor; and if
such an evening came, he spent it at his books. Later he was away from
home for days and weeks, so that the home had to function without the
father much of the time. John had to give up his right to spend a
normal amount of time with his wife and children. Even Mary could not
spend as much time with the children as she would have liked, nor
arrange things for them as she might have wished. And then, after the
first few years, their home was not theirs alone. Most of the time
they had other people living with them. All the way through they had
to put the Lord's work first, and their home second.

Yet was not this attitude of self-sacrifice the thing that made their
home a real Christian home? If they had put their home first, not the
work--if that home had become a self-centered thing, a thing enjoyed
for its own sake--would it not have failed to be what they wanted it
to be? A home that is absorbed in itself is not a truly Christian
home. John was willing to be away so much, and to sacrifice so much,
because his love for his Master was the all-consuming passion of his
life. It was for exactly that reason that his presence--and even the
consciousness of his absence, and the reason for it--did bless that
home. John and Mary gladly took others into their home, really wanting
them, not because they did not appreciate having their own home to
themselves, but because their concern for the work was greater than
their natural desires. They counted the cost, and sent their child
away from them, away to school, because they knew that it was best for
the child and best for the work. Love for Christ was greater than love
for home, or for children, and greater even than love for each other.
If they had held on to their right to home, and given it first place,
that would have meant losing it--losing the Christ-centered home that
they wanted. But in giving it up they found it--found a home that
truly showed forth the love of Christ, because that love was the
compelling force of their individual lives.


_The Right to Live With the People of My Choice_

The six months of language school were almost over. Exams had been the
order of the day. In spite of the fact that the results of their
labors were not yet known, half a dozen young women gathered in the
dormitory to celebrate with a cocoa party. Some were sprawled on the
beds, one was seated on the floor, and another two were presiding over
the concoction simmering on a tiny, smoky kerosene stove.

"You know, I couldn't sleep a wink last night!" declared one. "I was
thinking about Mr. Gibb[6] coming to appoint us to stations, and
wondering what my senior worker will be like, and I got so worried I
stayed awake all night!"

"You know the Lord is working it all out! We've been praying about it
for so long! You shouldn't worry about it!" reproved another gently.

"Well, I tried, but the more I tried, the wider awake I got."

"You _are_ foolish!" put in another. "Mr. Gibb isn't even coming until
tomorrow, and then who knows how soon _you_ will have your interview
with him. It will take him several days they say, and your name begins
with _T_."

"It's all right for you to talk!" retorted the first girl. "You have a
sister out here, and you're taking it for granted that you'll be sent
to her. Of course you're all right! But what about the rest of us who
have to be separated, and sent off to live with entire strangers? How
do I know whether my senior worker will _like_ me or not?"

"_You_ don't need to worry," put in the quiet voice of a girl who had
not spoken before. "You are gay and lively, and everybody likes you.
I'm quiet and awkward, and never know what to say. I'm sure my senior
worker will be disappointed when she gets me!"

"Just listen to me a minute!" another voice spoke up. "I'll tell you
the one way out of this difficulty. Everybody wants a congenial fellow
worker. Well, there's only one way to be sure, and that is--pick your
own! That's what I'm going to do!"

"Don't be stupid!" clamored three or four voices at once. "Pick your
own! Just as if we'd be allowed to pick our own senior workers! What
are you talking about?"

"Just what I said. I'm picking my own senior worker! Of course I may
not be able to do it right away--I may have to live with one that Mr.
Gibb picks for me for a year or two--but I'm getting the one I've
picked for myself in the end!"

At that juncture two girls jumped upon the speaker, and rolled her
from the bed to the floor. "Just because you are engaged you don't
need to think you are better than we are!" and the serious discussion
broke up with a laugh.

       *       *       *       *       *

With whom am I going to live and work for the next six months? For the
next six years? For the rest of my life? Who will be the one I will
see the first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night, and
all the time in between? With whom will I sit down at the table three
times a day? Who will be my fellow worker, my companion in recreation,
the one who spends time with me at the Throne of Grace, pleading for
souls, and for the upbuilding of God's Church? Yes, it's quite a
question. For somehow, mission boards usually seem to recognize only
one legitimate reason for allowing a missionary to choose his or her
own fellow worker, and that one reason is marriage. Even married
couples will probably be asked to take one or more younger workers
into their homes; and if you are one who remains single, why, you will
just have to let the superintendent, or committee, pick your
companion and fellow worker for you.

When I was in high school it was one of my ambitions to learn to be at
home in any environment. Whether a wealthy home or a poverty-stricken
one, whether an American culture or the culture of some other group, I
wanted to be able to live in that environment as though I had grown up
in it. This ambition was no doubt laudable and its attainment is very
useful to the missionary. I found later, however, that it does not
quite go to the heart of the problem. My ambition at present is not so
much to be able to live happily in any _environment_ as to be able to
live happily with any other _missionary_.

This statement may horrify some of my readers. If I had said I make it
my ambition to be able to live happily with anyone, you would have had
no bone to pick with me. But no, I _must_ say, _with any other
missionary_! Am I trying to imply that some missionaries are hard to
live with? That class of God's devoted servants who have given up all
to go for Him to the far corners of the earth? Let anyone else be hard
to get along with, but surely not missionaries!

Well, missionaries (excepting some feeble folk like me) are the salt
of the earth. At the same time, my experience on the foreign field
leads me to the conclusion that it takes a good deal more grace to
live happily with one's fellow workers on the foreign field than it
does at home. Why? The reasons are varied. I think I can safely say
that most missionaries are rather strong-minded. If they were not,
perhaps they would never have gotten to the foreign field! They know
what they want to do, and they know how they want to do it. Most
missionaries will agree on the task to be accomplished; but what are
the best means to accomplish it--that is not always so easy to agree
upon! The older worker may think the younger worker's plans wild and
impracticable. The younger worker may think the older worker stodgy
and in a rut. Perhaps both may be right. Happy the fellow workers who
can learn to discuss their pet ideas without heat! Happy the fellow
workers who can develop just the right combination of initiative and

It is hard to realize how closely one is shut up to a fellow worker on
the mission field. Probably there are no others of your own race in
the place where you live. At home one can live with one group, work
with another, and have special friends that are entirely apart from
either group. On the field there is no one else--no one who speaks
your native tongue, understands your background, or has the same
pattern of thought as yourself. Perhaps you are stationed with one
other worker. Every human heart longs for some special friend; but
this fellow worker may not be one you would have chosen for a special
friend. Perhaps she has some mannerisms that are irritating to you.
Perhaps you like dogs and she hates them. Perhaps she believes in
being extremely economical and you like to spend money more freely. In
some ways, as two single missionaries live and work together, the
relation is as close as that between husband and wife; but in this
case the two _have not chosen one another_. Of course the relationship
is not established for life; and the missionary who finds herself
paired off with an uncongenial fellow worker may console herself by
hoping that a change will come soon. That frame of mind, however, is
not exactly conducive to the sort of adjustment that would make for
the most effective carrying on of the work.

Even married couples will feel this to a certain extent. A young
married couple will probably have to live with an older couple for the
first two or three years on the field. Owing perhaps to the shortage
of men, and perhaps to other reasons, it even happens that sometimes a
young married couple is sent to live for their "breaking-in" period
with one or two older single lady missionaries! The initial period
passes, and they are given a home and a work of their own. But they
are not likely to be left alone long. Younger workers will be coming
along, and most married couples are rarely without other workers
living in their homes. Besides this, it is likely that the husband
will need to be away from home for weeks and even months at a time,
leaving the wife at home with the little ones and the junior workers.

The single worker feels the force of this even more strongly. Two good
friends _may_ be placed in a station together; or what is more likely,
two who have been placed together may become especially good friends.
The fact that they are good friends, however, cannot be a reason for
placing them together, nor for leaving them together. Any of us would
realize that. The placing of workers is determined by the best
interests of the work. If, when the best interests of the work are
considered, it seems right to place two special friends together, or
to leave them together, well and good. If not, why, that's the end of

Not being able to choose my own fellow worker will present two
possible difficulties for me. One is that I may be placed with someone
who does not appeal to me. The other is that I may be separated from
someone with whom I strongly desire to remain. The first difficulty is
one that comes along now and then. Probably most missionaries, at one
time or another, have had a period of living with someone with whom
they did not seem to "hit it off." The second difficulty is, for the
unmarried worker at least, of much more common occurrence. Over and
over again it happens. Just when you and someone else have lived
together long enough to rub off the rough corners, and come to a place
where you really "fit," along comes an upheaval, and you are
separated. We like to put down roots. We like to make friends and stay
with them, but on the mission field frequent change of location and of
fellow workers is the normal thing. New personnel is constantly being
added, and older workers are constantly retiring. New stations are
constantly being opened. And the single worker, time and time again,
finds herself being separated from a fellow worker with whom she would
prefer to remain permanently!

Some will notice that I have been using pronouns in the feminine
gender. This is not without reason, since by far the majority of
single workers on the field are women. And, as has been said, one of
the hardest things the single woman worker must face is that she can
never say to anyone, "I'm going to stay with you."

       *       *       *       *       *

"What a negative sort of outlook!" exclaims someone; and we must thank
that one for reminding us that there is a _positive_ side. There is
One whom we _may_ choose for our Companion. (How amazing that I should
be allowed to _choose Him_!) And it is just because we have already
chosen the one Companion who will not leave us that we may not choose
anyone else--not even a husband or wife--without reference to Him. As
soon as we choose Him, then He does all our choosing for us.

According to old Oriental custom, marriages were arranged by parents
with the aid of a middleman. Sometimes when things went wrong after
marriage one of the couple, or both, would blame the middleman. When
marriages are made after the Western pattern, there is no one to blame
but oneself. Before I left America I used to think that marriages
arranged by parents, through middlemen, must necessarily be unhappy.
But after I had been on the field for a time I decided that in China
the proportion of happy marriages among those outside of Christ was
greater than marriages of those of the same group in America, even
though almost all the marriages in China were made after the old
traditional style! People who choose partners for themselves do not
always choose wisely. Older people, with more experience, may make a
wiser choice than the young people themselves would have done. It
_may_ be better to have a trustworthy middleman than to try to do the
choosing oneself!

If this is true of an earthly middleman, how much more it is true of
the One who chooses for _us_! The earthly middleman may do very well
in many cases, but certainly he makes some mistakes. The One who
chooses for us makes no mistakes. So whether it be a matter of
accepting a fellow worker you would rather not have, or of letting go
one whom you would like to keep--remember the One who does the
choosing for us makes no mistakes.


_The Right to Feel Superior_

The meeting of the Missionary Union had closed. The Bible Institute
students were leaving the room in groups, and many of them were
discussing the message which they had just heard.

"What did you think of his last point?" asked one.

"That about race prejudice, you mean? About not thinking that because
our skin is white, we're better than anyone else? To tell the truth,
it seemed a bit superfluous to me. I suppose race prejudice and race
pride still do exist, but not in a group like this. Why, we're
practically all missionary candidates!"

"Just what I thought myself!" rejoined the first. "You'd think he'd
gotten his audience mixed. But he knew he was talking to missionary
candidates, all right. That's the strange part. The rest of his
talk--it was the real stuff. But that one point--I just couldn't make
it out."

"Oh, he's just fifty years out of date, that's all," commented
another. "That's the way it was when _he_ went to the field--the
imperialistic white man and the downtrodden native--but times have
changed. People wouldn't act like that now. Each race has its own
culture, and its own contribution to make to enrich the culture of the
world. We realize all this now. The Christian world has come a long
way since _he_ was in training. Pride of race! We're more likely to be
ashamed of our race, if he only knew it. Look at the state the world's
in--all trouble stirred up by the white race!"

"Some of those old missionaries _were_ imperialistic, all right!" A
slight, blond youth joined the conversation. "You should hear some of
the tales my father tells! Ordering the native people around as if
they were slaves! Such cases were few and far between, of course. But,
you know, I don't think that's the sort of thing he was driving at.
Times may change, but not the human heart. Pride is just as easy a sin
to fall into as it ever was. Thinking that we're better than someone
else--it may not be because of our race, but merely because the other
fellow is poor or uneducated--we can't just dismiss it and say, 'I'm
in no danger of that.'"

"Well, perhaps there's something--"

"Aw, just because you grew up on a mission field--"

"You know, _I_ think--" Several began to talk at once. Suddenly a gong
rang, and the group scattered in all directions.

"Oh, Ann, I've been wanting to find you! A bunch of us are planning to
go to Tong's for a Chinese meal. Do you want to come along?"

"Chinese meal? Dear me, I've never had one. Do you have to eat with
chopsticks? Don't they serve you rats and mice and all sorts of
horrible things?"

"Of course not, you silly! There are the most delicious things! And
you don't have to eat with chopsticks unless you want to. In fact,
they always give us knives and forks unless we especially ask for
chopsticks. But I adore strange ways! This will be my third time for
Chinese food. We always ask for chopsticks--it's the most fun trying
to use them! Though I must admit that we usually give up halfway--the
food is so delicious and we're so hungry we have to. Then you'll

"Well--to tell the truth, I'm afraid it will be some awful stuff I
can't eat."

"I'm surprised at you, Ann! You're a missionary candidate, aren't you?
You'll _have_ to get used to strange--"

"No, but it seems so sort of uncivilized to eat with sticks, or
fingers--and all out of one dish, isn't it? Ugh!"

"Now don't be fussy! Didn't you hear that missionary talk last night?
You've got to appreciate other people's ways on the mission
field--can't go around thinking your ways are best!"

"I know." Ann was suddenly very serious. "But there's only one thing
about it that bothers me. What if your own ways really _are_ best?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Chopsticks, or knives and forks--which are best? Not which are the
most intriguing, or cause the most hilarity, but which really and
truly are the most useful for their purpose--that of conveying food to
one's mouth in a convenient and graceful manner. Don't condemn Ann
offhand. If I were to ask _you_ this question, what answer would _you_

"Well--really--" you say. "After all--" Yes. That's just it. You, and
Ann, and millions more can't help realizing (or is it feeling?) that
your way _is_ best. But what about the millions in China and Japan?
How would they answer the question? Did you ever stop to think that
their reaction would be just as immediate, and their answer just as
sure? And I think I am safe in saying that a larger proportion of them
have actually tried using the other person's implements than we have.

When a group of ex-China missionaries get together at home and go to a
Chinese restaurant for a meal, the first thing they do after ordering
is to request that the food be served in bowls, and they be supplied
with chopsticks instead of knives and forks. Why? Ask any of them. The
reply you will probably get is, "Oh, it doesn't taste the same when
eaten with knives and forks!" And the strange part about it is that it
is really true.

"But," you say, "chopsticks are so difficult to use!" Not at all! You
just need a little practice. Even knives and forks are difficult for
beginners to manage. You would know that if you had watched as many
beginners (adults) try to use them as I have.

"No, but you can't cut anything with them!" Of course you can't. The
kitchen is the place for cutting up food. To serve a slab of meat on a
plate, and expect the eater to saw off pieces with a dull knife--it's
utterly barbarous! Chinese food is properly prepared, bite-size, in
the kitchen.

"Oh? But what about soup or gravy? You can't eat _them_ with
chopsticks!" Quite true; neither can you eat them with knife and fork.
Chinese eat soup with a spoon, or drink it from a bowl.

"Well, chopsticks are awkward, in any case!" Awkward? What are you
talking about? They are just like pincers--you nip a bite and pick it
up daintily, instead of spearing, or shoveling, as you do with a fork.

It's amazing how hard it is for an American (I won't speak for other
nationalities!) to come to the place where he will appreciate the
fact that the ways of people in other lands are in many cases better
for them than our ways would be. If you are going to the foreign field
in order to teach "the American way of life," you had better stay at
home. In saying this I do not mean that Americans do not have some
skills that it might be advantageous for the people on some foreign
mission fields to learn. But any missionary who has the feeling that
his ways of doing things are better just because they are "civilized"
ways, or "American" ways, or just his own ways, is heading for

When I first went to China I thought I had no feeling of race
superiority. Then an incident occurred that showed me I was not as
humble as I had thought. It was at the Chinese New Year season.
Chinese New Year is the time of preparing all sorts of special foods,
and frequently at that time some of the Christian women would send us
a bowl of this, or a plate of that. There was a neighborly feeling
about it all that warmed my heart. Then one year a fairly wealthy
Christian woman, who had just recently moved to our city, sent her
servant over with a gift of a different kind. It was not food this
time, but money. In purchasing value the amount would have been
equivalent to an American dollar or two. It was the first money gift
that had ever been presented to me by a Chinese.

I had always been pleased with the gifts of food, but somehow, when I
saw what this gift was, I reacted strongly against it. There was
something in me that rebelled. "_I_ don't need your money!" was my
instinctive reaction. Fortunately I had enough politeness left to
realize that I could not refuse it without offending the giver, and so
I did take it, mumbling my thanks, which I did not feel, and watched
the servant depart. Then I sat down to think it out. _Why_ did it make
me so uncomfortable to accept that gift? When I finally got to the
bottom of it, I decided that the real reason was that I unconsciously
felt that it put me in an inferior position. Accepting a gift of food
was different--that was just neighborliness. But a small gift of
money! That is normally given by a superior to an inferior--a father
to his child, a mistress to her servant, one who has sufficient for
his needs to one who has not. In this case the giver did not look at
it like that, of course. Money gifts were a common thing in her
circle, and to her the amount was not too small. But my unconscious
reaction was that I was being put in an inferior position, and this
was the thing at which I rebelled. How could I, who was this woman's
superior (this was my unconscious feeling), take this money, and so
accept the place of being her inferior?

The position of a missionary is something like that of a teacher. He
comes to tell people something that they do not know; to introduce a
Friend of whom they have not heard. He certainly knows more about
Christianity, academically and experimentally, than the people to whom
he goes--otherwise there would be no point in his going. He probably
knows more about the world in general than the people to whom he goes.
He may know better ways of living and working, even for their
environment, than they do. How can a person be conscious of how much
more he knows than someone else, and still not feel _superior_? Those
among whom he works may realize that he knows much that they should
learn, and may look up to him as a superior being. This makes it even
harder. How can he overcome the superiority complex that comes from
race, or from looking on oneself as _civilized_, or even just from
recognizing that one has more education and experience than those
among whom he works?

The first step in conquering this superiority complex is to realize
that it is there. Most of us have it without realizing it. If we
realize that this thing probably exists somewhere in our make-up, it
will be easier to recognize it when it suddenly rears its head, as it
did with me. Seeing it for what it is is the first step in conquering
it. The second step, I think, is to become thoroughly acquainted with
those to whom we go. Perhaps if we know more about them we will not
find them so inferior. Go and live their life with them, twenty-four
hours of the day. Don't just put yourself in the position of an
observer, but try to do the things that they do. You will probably
find that you are not as proficient in doing most of the things that
they do as are their ten-year-old children! If your people are
_uncivilized_, go into the jungle with them and try to wrest your
living from the jungle--try to find or make everything that you need.
If they are _civilized_, but poor and backward, go into their homes,
and live their lives with them. See how they grow their own food, and
that without the use of modern machinery; how they grind their own
grain into flour, salt or dry their own vegetables, butcher their own
meat--if they have any; how they raise cotton, pick it, card it, spin
it, dye it, weave it into cloth, and make the clothes for the family
without the aid of a sewing machine. And then watch them (as I often
have) make beautiful embroidery for relaxation! By the time you have
become really familiar with (I won't say proficient in) their way of
life, I think you will have lost most of your feeling of superiority.
You will no more think of them as "ignorant savages," or "those from
lower cultural groups." Instead, they will just be John, and Mary, and
Peter, and Paul--or whatever their names happen to be--real people,
like you and me; real people, who are amazingly skillful in some ways,
and amazingly stupid in others, just like the rest of us.

There is one more thing we need to do in conquering that superiority
complex. We need to realize what a difference having Christ makes.
Those to whom we minister may live in the midst of filth and disease.
Their minds may be dull, and their hearts dark and full of fears.
(Were our ancestors any different when Christ found them?) But see
them come to the One who is the Light of the world, and watch the
transformation that takes place. Then realize more deeply than ever
all that you owe to Christ, and the greatness of His power in making
the one who comes to Him literally "a new creation." What these people
need is not a training that will educate them out of their
environment. What they need is not to learn to use knives and forks
instead of chopsticks or fingers. What they need is a LIFE that will
transform them, and enable them to live a life of victory over sin and
the Devil within their environment. This imparted life may gradually
transform that environment too--probably it will; but that is a
secondary thing. There is one thing that is essential, and one
alone--the impartation of the life of Christ. It does not matter how
low, how ignorant, how degraded the person is, Christ is _able_ to
transform him into someone far superior to me; and it may be that
that is _just what He is going to do_. Who am I, a poor redeemed
sinner, to look down upon anyone else? Who am I to challenge Christ's
power, and refuse to believe that anyone can be made new?

       *       *       *       *       *

_Dear Lord, forgive me for feeling that I am superior to anyone! Open
my eyes to see how deep was the pit from which I was digged! Grant
that I may make myself one with the people to whom Thou art sending
me, and that by faith I can see them transformed by Thy power, even
before that transformation has taken place!_


_The Right to Run Things_

A new mission station opened! Another conquest of the Gospel! Have you
ever wondered how it was done? Suppose you are a missionary, and have
already passed successfully through the language-learning stage.
Suppose you are assigned an area where the Gospel has never been
preached, an area teeming with people, very few of whom have ever even
heard the precious name of Jesus. You probably have a fellow worker.
You have good health, a reasonable knowledge of the language and local
customs, and a heart on fire for God. You have a certain amount of
financial resources. What do you do? How do you start in?

Let's see what Mr. Beaver did. When assigned to this new, untouched
field, his heart and the heart of his wife were deeply moved. Ten
thousand souls and more, and probably not one of them a Christian! Ten
thousand souls and more, and it might well be that none of them had
ever heard the Gospel preached in any adequate way! Ten thousand souls
and more, and the large majority of them had never even heard the
name of Jesus! What an opportunity! What a challenge!

"Such a challenge calls for action," ruminated Mr. Beaver. "It calls
for immediate action, and yet action that is well planned, and will be
as effective as possible. How can we reach the largest number of souls
for Christ in the shortest time? But what can two people do, anyway?
We must have helpers. We must have a church building, and a native
evangelist or two. We must have a street chapel. We must have a
Christian school, for through it we can reach countless numbers of
young people. Our church and school will be established in the central
city of the area, of course. But then, think of all the smaller towns
and villages! As soon as things get going in the city, we must start
outstations in strategic market towns as well. We must organize tent
campaigns, making use of modern equipment--public address system,
recordings, films, and all the rest. We must also start a social
welfare program that will help us to get in touch with the poorer
classes--and aren't the bulk of the people always poor? A certain
amount of relief funds, administered carefully to the deserving, will
make the love of Christ known in a practical way, and surely will
attract folk to our church."

So ran the thoughts of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and, because they were
"go-getters," their plans were soon put into effect. A fine piece of
property was purchased. Buildings were erected: a residence for
themselves, a preaching hall opening directly on the main street, fine
school buildings, and a beautiful church building. Crowds of people
came to listen to the singing, to see Christian films, and to hear the
Gospel preached in simplicity and power. It was not long before people
were giving their names as inquirers. The missionaries' servants were
among the first to respond, and their friends and relatives followed.
Other helpers around the place were needed: a gardener, a gatekeeper,
and so on, and naturally these were chosen from among the first
converts. Soon the busy compound was like one happy family--all
gathering the first thing in the morning for prayer, and joining their
voices in song, praising the One of whom they had never heard three
months ago, but who now was their acknowledged Saviour. Callers came
from morning till night. Mr. Beaver was never too busy to see them, to
hear their tales of woe, to point them to the Saviour, and to give
them a little judicious help.

"It's not too wise," he thought, "to give out a lot of money for
nothing. I don't want to make paupers of these people. What they need
is jobs, and someone who will encourage them to work, training them if
necessary. Let's see--I've got quite a bit of relief funds in hand;
and there's plenty of work that needs to be done to improve this
property. So-and-so [one of the new inquirers] is a builder; I'll put
him in charge of operations, and we'll take on all these poor people
who need help--much better than giving them help outright--and we'll
really put this place into shape. Not only will our property benefit,
but it will also give these people a chance to hear the Gospel again
and again, until they really understand it. I'm sure that many of them
will accept the Lord if this plan goes through!"

And so things went. Such large numbers gave their names as inquirers,
and they studied and attended services so faithfully that within six
months the first baptismal service was held. What joy it brought to
the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver! Two other such services were held
before the first year was up, and by that time Mr. Beaver felt it
right to appoint deacons, and to get the church on an organized basis.
He chose several of the most promising young people, including one who
had served in his home, and sent them off to a Bible institute,
looking forward with great joy to the time when they would graduate
and come back to help him in the work. Then he would be able to let
his original evangelists go (they were getting a bit too bossy anyway,
and thought they knew how the Lord's work should be carried on better
than he did!), and have only his own spiritual children associated
with him in the work. They would all work happily under his direction,
and surely the Lord could bless more where the workers were all one in
heart. Well, he wouldn't say that these evangelists were _not_ one in
heart with him, but still--sometimes he felt that there was just a
little something lacking. Sometimes they didn't support his plans with
all the enthusiasm that they might.

By the time three more years had passed, Mr. Beaver had put up church
buildings in six market towns, and was just waiting until his first
young people graduated from the Bible institute and came back before
starting regular weekly services in the last three of the six towns.
He traveled constantly, and wherever he went the people flocked to him
for help and advice. True, there were one or two that turned against
him, but one couldn't expect the Lord's work always to be easy; and
the large majority looked to him as children to a father. There were
elders as well as deacons in the church now, and when he presided at
their meetings and looked over the group, his own spiritual children
now taking their places as leaders in the church, his heart just
melted. True, they were a bit hesitant about going ahead, and always
consulted him before making plans, but that was only natural and
right. After all, they had only a few years' experience in the church
and couldn't be expected to know how best to govern the House of God.
Indeed, several times he had found it necessary to put his foot down
when one of them, a little less experienced and more reckless than the
others, had advanced his own ideas of how church affairs should be
managed. But he had soon subsided and realized his mistake. What a
happy family the church was, indeed, with everything working out just
as he had planned it! Truly God was good!

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time when Mr. Beaver went to his new station and began putting
his magnificent plans into effect, another worker was sent, in the
same way, to a new area. Mr. Trainer was perhaps not so dynamic an
individual, but he knew just as clearly what his plans were for the
church that was as yet unborn. "The church, which is his body"--the
Body of Christ! The Church which is, through the indwelling Christ,
the light of the world! The Church, where each member is in vital
contact with the Head, and so, necessarily, is in vital contact with
every other member! The Church, each member of which is indwelt by the
Holy Spirit, and each member of which feels his responsibility to live
and witness for the One who means all in all to him! The church Mr.
Trainer wanted to plant was a church which was all this--a church
which was a living plant, with its roots going down into God; a
church which did not look to the missionary, or any other man, for its
needs, but which was centered upon Christ; a church which would be
given "gifts" by the Holy Spirit, and would be able to use those gifts
to the edifying of itself, and the bringing of souls into the kingdom.

Mr. Trainer, like Mr. Beaver, went to the central city of his area and
located on a main street. His "compound" was a tiny rented house, with
a pocket-handkerchief-size courtyard. He did no building at all, and
his few rooms were sparsely furnished. Books were the only things he
seemed to own. There were books everywhere, said his callers, but not
much else--some perfectly ordinary furniture, and that was all. He had
no street chapel, and no paid workers brought in from the outside; but
day by day he set a table and a few stools in his gateway, covered the
table with attractive Gospel literature printed in the language of the
people, and there he sat and read. Passersby stopped to examine his
books. One and all received an attractive Gospel tract, and had the
message explained in simple language as long as they cared to listen.
Some bought Gospels and other booklets. A few got into the habit of
dropping by every evening, when work was done; and Mr. Trainer taught
them to sing Gospel songs and choruses, and read the Word with them.
At other times he went from shop to shop, giving out tracts, and
inviting people to call when they had time.

The compound of Mr. Trainer was tiny, compared with that of Mr.
Beaver. He had no school, and no church building. He did not even hold
church services at first--who was there to come? Not another Christian
in all that area. He did not attract huge crowds. He did not spend
large sums of money, nor employ large numbers of people. People did
not come to him for financial assistance--what would be the use, when
he did not seem to have any more money than anyone else? But he
attracted a few, a few "whose heart the Lord opened," and day by day
he taught them more about the Saviour. It was a full year before he
had a baptismal service. The numbers baptized were far smaller than
those baptized by Mr. Beaver, but the joy in his heart was just as

Even before these converts were baptized, Mr. Trainer started teaching
them about the Church. He taught them that they were indwelt by the
Holy Spirit. He led them daily to the Throne of Grace, and from the
beginning they learned to pray. He encouraged in them the desire to
win others of their own households and their friends. He encouraged
them to witness, both in their own group, and to those who did not
know Christ. He encouraged them to bring others to the little evening
gathering, and then to testify in front of these whom they had
brought. He did not make too many concrete suggestions, but prayed,
and waited for the Holy Spirit to suggest ways and means of witnessing
to them. Soon he was invited to their homes to talk to others in their
families about the Lord. He always made such occasions an opportunity
for the one who invited him there to speak, asking for that one's
personal testimony, as well as speaking himself. Sometimes others of
the group went along, and they too had a chance to testify. Then it
came about quite naturally that the little informal evening meeting
was held in the different homes, rather than always in that of Mr.
Trainer. Soon different ones were taking turns leading, with
spontaneous testimonies, or sharing of "wonderful thoughts" from the
Word that came to them in their own private devotions. They would tell
about opportunities they had to witness for the Lord, and there would
be prayer all around for the requests brought before the group. Soon
other souls were coming to the Saviour, not because of the direct
efforts of the missionary, but rather through the instrumentality of
these young Christians. That, felt Mr. Trainer, was the greatest
triumph of all!

Although he was eager to start street meetings, Mr. Trainer did not
want this to be his own personal effort, but rather a church effort.
So he restrained himself and said nothing, but prayed constantly
about the matter. What was his joy when one day one of them asked,
"Couldn't we have a meeting somewhere where more people would come,
and we could preach the Gospel to them?" When no one seemed to be able
to think of a building both suitable and available, he permitted
himself to make a suggestion about open-air meetings he had attended.
Never having heard of such a thing, some were doubtful, others amazed.
He answered questions about how such meetings were run, but made no
recommendation. He heard no more about the subject for a week or two,
and then suddenly the whole group (who had been consulting together,
it seemed) came to him, eager to have an open-air meeting, with his
assistance. Careful preparations were made, musical instruments some
of them had were requisitioned, and the first street meeting was held.
Although no actual decisions for Christ were made, a good crowd
listened, and the Christians were so pleased that from that day the
open-air meeting became a regular thing.

Trying to witness or bring a short Gospel message in these meetings
brought home to the young Christians their need for more Bible study,
so a regular Bible study class was instituted two nights a week,
instead of the usual meeting for testimony and prayer. At first they
concentrated on helping the speakers prepare their messages for the
next street meeting. Later they chose a Book of the Bible, or a
certain topic, and asked Mr. Trainer to lead them in their study.
Notebooks were filled, and practical methods of Bible study became
familiar processes, but most of all they learned to look to the Holy
Spirit to take the Word given by His own inspiration and interpret it
to their hearts.

When the very first ones came to the Lord, Mr. Trainer had suggested
that they meet on the Lord's Day. He had usually taken charge of that
service himself. By the time there were a dozen or so baptized
Christians, he encouraged them to feel that they, like the Jerusalem
church in Acts 6, should choose deacons. The group spent much time in
prayer, looking to the Lord for His guidance, and when the deacons
were actually chosen, all felt that they were not just their own
choice, but men chosen by the Holy Spirit. After they were chosen, he
turned over all the services to them, and suggested that they take
turns in leading the Sunday morning service, and also speaking at that
service. He would be glad to take his turn with the others. And so it
was carried out.

All this time they had been meeting in the various homes. The
inconvenience of unsuitable rooms and never having enough benches had
been felt for some time, so when the deacons took over they decided
that something must be done about it. Didn't other places have church
buildings? Why couldn't they? Some of the group had the idea that
there was some kind of a mission or church somewhere that provided
money for such things, so off they went to inquire of the missionary.
He explained to them clearly that there _were_ mission boards that
provided funds, in whole or part, for church buildings in many places;
but that this did not seem to be the New Testament way, nor was it the
way to build a strong local church. "It would be far better," he said,
"to meet in a shanty put up by yourselves, than in a beautiful
building that cost you nothing." They had several long talks on the
subject, and soon all the Christians were deeply concerned. It seemed
impossible to out-argue Mr. Trainer. At the same time it seemed even
more impossible to do what he thought they ought to do--contribute
enough money to build their own church building! Only twelve or
fifteen baptized Christians, and several of them women or young people
from homes where the head of the house did not believe--what could
they do? Mr. Trainer would only counsel them to pray. And pray they
did--there seemed to be nothing else they could do. Finally the
deacons made a special offering box for gifts for the new church
building, and the money began to come in. The gifts were more than
they expected; and yet they were but a drop in the bucket compared
with what was needed. Time passed, and the fund slowly grew.
Suggestions of "church bazaars" and "fun fairs" were made several
times (wherever had they heard of such things?). Mr. Trainer counseled
against them, but did not feel that he had the authority to forbid.
After all, the church was standing on its own feet, and it stood or
fell to Christ alone! But he spent much time in prayer, and none of
these suggestions was put into effect.

One Sunday an electrifying announcement was made. A wealthy
businessman in the city was offering them a suitable piece of property
for their building as an outright gift! The Christians redoubled their
efforts in giving, and that month they received ten times as much as
they had received in any one month before. A church in a city not too
far away heard of their efforts, and sent a contribution. Church
membership was growing, and all the new believers became interested in
giving. Then two of the deacons made a proposal: "Why can't we do most
of the work on the building ourselves? That will make it much less

The plans needed careful working out, but assistance was given by
someone's neighbor, who was a builder, and finally the work started.
Many of them put in long hours of back-breaking labor after their
regular work for the day had been completed. Difficulties appeared,
but prayer and perseverance prevailed. After the building was started,
many more gifts came in; and great was the rejoicing when the simple
little chapel was at last finished, and used for its first Sunday
morning service! Throngs of interested neighbors and friends turned up
for the meeting, and several of the deacons took turns at preaching. A
guest speaker had also been invited, the pastor of the church that had
sent an unsolicited offering to help with the building. The meeting
went on for more than two hours, but everyone was happy, and again and
again praises ascended to God for their own church building!

       *       *       *       *       *

A couple of years passed. The work of Mr. Beaver and Mr. Trainer
continued as begun. Then suddenly the country was threatened by war.
Worse still, the missionaries were labeled as "enemy nationals." A
general evacuation took place. Both Mr. Beaver and Mr. Trainer were
due for furloughs; and even if they had not been, remaining on the
field could only bring harm to the Christians. Both of them gathered
up a few things and departed, escaping from the country just in time.
If they had remained a few days longer, they would have found
themselves in concentration camps. When they arrived at home, each had
a thrilling tale to tell of how God had worked in saving souls and
building up His Church, and also of personal deliverance in time of
danger. At the end of every message they gave came these words: "Pray
for the Christians there. Because of the war, there is no way of
getting news from them, and we have heard nothing since we left. Pray
that they may be kept true, and that in spite of war and distress, the
churches may grow and expand, and that many more souls may be brought
to Christ."

       *       *       *       *       *

The war was over. Friendly relations between countries were again
established. Both missionaries had had profitable furloughs: time for
rest and spiritual refreshment, and many opportunities to make known
the needs, the difficulties, and the triumphs of the mission field.
Then--something happened. Both men fully expected to get back to their
original fields of work, to see again those dear Christians, their
sons and daughters in the Lord--but neither did. Another call came to
each, and neither could return to his former field. Others went
instead--others who knew little about the history of the stations, or
what work had been done there. What did these men find in these two
fields? I think you can guess!

Mr. Beaver's station had always been supplied with plenty of money
from abroad. By becoming a Christian a man could obtain a certain
amount of relief money, perhaps a job, or free schooling for his
children. Many had learned "the language of Zion" and had been taken
into the church who had never had a change of heart. When war broke
out and the missionary left, the jobs were finished, and the school
closed down. There was no one to pay the evangelists, and they
gradually drifted away to other places or into secular jobs. The
deacons and elders had been accustomed to taking orders from Mr.
Beaver and had had no real experience in looking after things
themselves. Even some of those leaders were of the group that had
joined the church, not because they had really repented and turned to
Christ, but for the material benefits they could get.

As soon as Mr. Beaver left, they quarreled among themselves as to
which one would take his place and be the "big chief." There was no
one capable of taking services, because such things had always been in
the hands of Mr. Beaver and his paid workers, who now were gone. None
of the elders or deacons had ever preached a sermon in his life. Some
tried, but their efforts did not draw the crowds, and attendance soon
dwindled to almost nothing. Then quarrels about the property began.
True, it belonged not to them, but to the mission board; but surely it
was up to the church to look after it while the missionary was gone!
Several so-called Christian families moved into the empty buildings,
with or without the agreement of the deacons and elders; but then,
thought they, the buildings _should_ be occupied, and of course these
people will pay us rent! (They never did.) Church services gradually
ceased. A few faithful Christians remained true to the Lord, and met
in a home for occasional services; but since none had been trained to
lead meetings, all they could do was sing, read the Bible, and pray.

But what had happened at the other station? There the case was far
different. They had gone through the sorrows of war, but they had done
so with the Lord at their side. Continuing the work of the church was
no problem--they had been doing it themselves all along. Money was
hard to get, and many young men had to go to war; but the hearts of
the people were open as never before, and they had baptisms once and
again. They missed Mr. Trainer very much; but they were driven more
than ever to the Lord, and found Him sufficient for their every need.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is easy to say that one man was right and the other was wrong. But
how many of us would not have followed in the footsteps of Mr. Beaver
if we had not been warned? And how many of us missionaries today, even
though warned, are not still in danger of making ourselves the little
center around which the mission station revolves?

"It's all very well to say that the Christians should take the
responsibility from the very beginning," we think; "but _here_ it is
impossible. These people are too poor! And they are too ignorant! No,
they certainly would do everything wrong if I let them take the lead!"
And so we go on telling everyone what he ought to do, and seeing that
he does it; and in the eyes of the young believers the Christian life
becomes simply a matter of doing what the missionary says.

That is not the way that Paul built churches. Great and dynamic
character that he was, he so taught and led his groups of young
Christians that when after a few months or a year or two he left them
they were able to carry on by themselves, and even to grow. He did not
put up church buildings for them, nor schools, nor give them "grants."
He brought them to the place where they could function as living
churches, in direct union with the Head, and not centered upon
himself. His efforts were directed to building up churches that would
be able to stand alone, because they stood in the strength of the One
who upheld Paul.

Why is it so easy for us missionaries to think that we know how to do
the work of the Lord better than any mission field convert, especially
if that one has been led to the Lord by us? Doing the Lord's work is
not fundamentally a matter of knowledge, training, or even experience.
It may be true that I have had years of Bible training, and the little
old woman with whom I am going out visiting has never been to any sort
of school a day in her life; that I have traveled around the world,
and she has never been thirty miles from the place where she was born;
that I have heard the Gospel and studied the Bible all my life, and
she has known it for only a few short years. I was born again
twenty-five or thirty years ago; she has been the Lord's own for three
or four years. Suppose we go to call on someone who is ill or in
trouble. I get out a poster, and carefully explain the Gospel. The
woman we are visiting listens to me with her mouth open; and after
twenty minutes of as clear and simple preaching as I am capable of,
when I am just getting to my climax, she lays her hand on my sleeve
and asks earnestly, "Did you make this dress yourself?"

My heart sinks to my boots. Is that what she has been thinking about
all this time? Is that why she fixed her eyes on me so intently?
What's the use anyway?

Then the old lady who is with me starts in. _She_ can't even tell
clearly the bare outlines of the life of our Saviour; but she turns to
the woman, one whose life and thoughts she knows (wasn't she just like
her before she was saved?), and says, "Look at me! I used to have
this trouble and that trouble and the other trouble, and then I came
to Jesus, and asked Him to forgive my sins. He did it and took all my
troubles away, and gave me peace and joy in my heart as I never
dreamed of. Come to Him and you can have it too!"

When the one on whom we are calling says suddenly, "I'm going to
believe too," it is far more likely to be the result of my companion's
testimony than of my fine Gospel message!

Are you a missionary volunteer? When you get to the mission field,
remember that a simple, earnest testimony from one who is "just like
we are" will usually bring far more in the way of results than your
own best efforts. Don't think that the missionary is the only one who
can bring souls to the Lord. The one who has just been saved may
easily become a more effective witness than you yourself.

No matter how uneducated and degraded the group, there are always in
it one or more who are leaders. No matter how poor and ignorant he is,
the one who has been truly saved, and knows that he is saved, is
always capable of witnessing to others of his own group. No matter how
poor a little group of Christians is, if they continue in prayer and
patient effort they will surely be able to provide for themselves a
meeting house that is as good as their own homes, or a little better.
The Church of God is not dependent upon Gothic arches and stained
glass windows, upon ministers in Geneva gowns and upon robed choirs.
It is not dependent upon material resources, or this world's learning.
None of these things are essentials. The only things that are
essentials to the Church of Christ are found in Christ and in the
penitent and forgiven soul, no matter what his race or culture or
economic status. The Church of Christ can function on any level at
which men for whom Christ died are living.

It is very easy for the missionary to become a little "pope." God
forbid that we should do this! God forbid that we should consider
ourselves the exclusive channels for bringing God's grace to needy
souls, or the only ones capable of hearing God's voice! God forbid
that we should forget that every believer, as soon as he is born
again, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit! And may God open our eyes to
ways and means of doing what is perhaps the greatest task of the
missionary, the task of bringing the young church to the place where
it can get along without us, the task of working ourselves out of a


_He Had No Rights_

He had no rights:

    No right to a soft bed, and a well-laid table;

    No right to a home of His own, a place where His own
    pleasure might be sought;

    No right to choose pleasant, congenial companions, those who
    could understand Him and sympathize with Him;

    No right to shrink away from filth and sin, to pull His
    garments closer around Him and turn aside to walk in cleaner

    No right to be understood and appreciated; no, not by those
    upon whom He had poured out a double portion of His love;

    No right even never to be forsaken by His Father, the One
    who meant more than all to Him.

His only right was silently to endure shame, spitting, blows; to take
His place as a sinner at the dock; to bear my sins in anguish on the

He had no rights. And I?

    A right to the "comforts" of life? No, but a right to the
    love of God for my pillow.

    A right to physical safety? No, but a right to the security
    of being in His will.

    A right to love and sympathy from those around me? No, but a
    right to the friendship of the One who understands me better
    than I do myself.

    A right to be a leader among men? No, but the right to be
    led by the One to whom I have given my all, led as is a
    little child, with its hand in the hand of its father.

    A right to a home, and dear ones? No, not necessarily; but a
    right to dwell in the heart of God.

    A right to myself? No, but, oh, _I have a right to Christ_.

    All that He takes I will give;
    All that He gives will I take;
    He, my only right!
    He, the one right before which all other rights
      fade into nothingness.
    I have full right to Him;
    Oh, may He have full right to me!


[Footnote 1: This word is not used in any disparaging sense, but
simply meaning "originating in a given place."]

[Footnote 2: Colloquial Chinese term for a bride.]

[Footnote 3: Bound small in childhood.]

[Footnote 4: Adapted from _The Lord Stood by Me_ (Philadelphia: China
Inland Mission, n.d.), pp. 67-75 (out of print).]

[Footnote 5: Cf. ch. 8.]

[Footnote 6: General Director of the China Inland Mission at that

       *       *       *       *       *


Title Page: The title and author have been changed from lower case to
  title case.

Page 45: Typo corrected: vistior to visitor.

Page 105: Typo corrected: gardner to gardener.

Page 119: Typo corrected: happend to happened.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Have We No Rights? - A frank discussion of the "rights" of missionaries" ***

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