Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brethren in China

On July 30, 1908, while the newly renamed Church of the Brethren was celebrating its 200th anniversary, the vanguard of Brethren mission work in China - Frank and Anna Crumpacker with Emma Horning and George and Blanche Hilton - left Seattle on the USS Minnesota. Four weeks later they arrived in Shanghai and traveled to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. There, with the help of Paul Corbin of the American Board mission, they investigated the possibility of establishing mission work in Shanxi.

In April 1910 the first Brethren converts were baptized and later that year a Brethren mission station was established in Ping Ting, and on Sunday, June 12, the first public preaching service was held in the Crumpacker home with about 40 attending ... On May 10, 1911, the first love feast was celebrated in the Crumpacker home with four Americans and three Chinese participating. ... China was in the process of overthrowing the imperial government and establishing a republic ... Despite the turmoil, Brethren ... mission work grew.

Later conflict between China and Japan would lead to increasing problems for Brethren mission workers. ... Between 1908 and 1941, 83 Brethren had served in China and 12 lost their lives to that service, either in China or as the result of diseases contracted there.

Very little physical evidence remains of the Brethren mission work in China ... although lives of individual Chinese were changed, children were educated, lives were spared and improved because of hospitals and health education, and the status of women was greatly improved.

Source: "China revisited: A legacy of mission," by Gene Wampler in Messenger May 2008
Today, as brothers and sisters in China seek to survive a devastating earthquake and flooding, our hearts go out to those in a faraway land where the Brethren were once very involved in mission work for the Glory of God and Our neighbors good.