Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tachai, China

In 1964 Chairman Mao Tse-tung, leader of the People's Republic of China, told his countrymen, "In agriculture learn from Tachai." He was referring to a village of 430 people in the southeast part of Shansi Province, an area where the Church of the Brethren maintained a mission from 1909 to 1948.

Mission work by the Brethren in the Shansi Province included not only evangelistic work, but also medical, educational, and a comprehensive program of rural service including agricultural extension, mass education, and industrial cooperatives. Brethren work was hindered first by the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and later by the continuing civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. Finally, with the Communist victory in all of Shansi, all Brethren were withdrawn from the area and eventually from all of China by 1951.

Tachai, formerly known as Leping Hsien, is located near the first two mission stations opened by Brethren at Ping Ting Chou and Liao Chou. Though once just a poor village, it developed into a national model owing largely to the industry and self-reliance of farmers and workers who banded together to strengthen their community.

Howard Sollenberger, who was born in China and who served for many years with the U.S. State Department, noted in 1975 that Tachai "is frequently included in tours arranged for foreign visitors, particularly those from developing countries. Today there is even a set of commemorative postage stamps honoring its spirit and achievement. The story of Tachai is told in illustrated children's books, textbooks, posters, ballads, and songs - even in foreign language texts and publications.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia