Friday, August 08, 2008


Today the world's focus turns to China where the Summer Olympic Games will get under way with the Opening Ceremony this evening. There will be Brethren among those traveling to China, including at least one Brethren athlete, Brian Sell of the Woodbury (PA) Church of the Brethren who will be running in the marathon.

It was 100 years ago when the first group of Brethren missionaries (Frank and Anna Crumpacker, Emma Horning, and George and Blanche Hilton) arrived in China for the beginning of Brethren mission work which would last until the 1940s. The first missionaries arrived in Shanghai and traveled to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province which was still reeling from the anti-Western, anti-Christian "Boxer" rebellion in 1900. Eighty-three Brethren served in China between 1908 and 1941 when tensions between the occupying Japanese and the Brethren resulted in church leaders in China asking the Americans to leave.

Two years ago, Joe and Gene Wampler led a family group back to Shanxi province and visited again in the area where they were born and spent most of their early years. (see article in the May 2008 Messenger) They share that the Christian Church in China is thriving. A former Methodist mission church served in recent years by Pastor Yin - son of Elder H.C. Yin (read the July 17 entry), a leader in the Chinese Brethren Church since 1912 - now numbers 5,000 members and is one of 10 Protestant churches in Beijing.

Gene relates: "During a taxi ride in Beijing, as we passed the former mission compound, I mentioned to the driver that I had lived there in 1947. The driver said there was a church there. I said, 'I know, I used to attend that church.' Then I asked if he was a Christian and he said he was. He said that a lot of people attend that church .... The Brethren mission work and the missionaries themselves are fondly remembered."

Source: "China revisited: A legacy of mission" by Gene Wampler
May 2008 Messenger