Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13, 1940 - Chinese Brethren Martyred

The Brethren sent misionaries to China in 1908 who worked at spreading the gospel, baptizing and introducing the love feast, while improving the lives of ordinary Chinese - many of whom lived in absolute misery. All this came to a crashing end with the Japanese invasion of China.

In comparison to the murder of thousands of people by the armies, the deaths of three Brethren missionaries and thirteen Chinese Brethren are not, perhaps, significant on the world stage. That makes it all the more imperative for Brethren to remember.

Little is known about the fate of Minnerva J. Neher, Alva C. Harsh, and Mary Hykes Harsh. The three Brethren missionaries were stationed in Show Yang. Around 7:30 in the evening on December 2, 1937, a little girl came to ask them to come and help a dispute. They left together and were never seen again. Rumors about their fate flew, but nothing was learned either then or after the war when Brethren missionaries returned to China.

More is known about what happened to the thirteen Chinese Brethren at Liao Chou who were martyred for their faith in 1940. Liao Chou was organized as a Brethren congregation in 1912. When war broke out Brethren remained behind to feed the children and keep the Bible school open.

In August of 1940 the Japanese arrested seven Brethren. They were tortured and forced to sign false confessions that they were Communists and released. Six more women were arrested in October. On October 13, 1940, three were stabbed to death with swords. The other three were raped and released.

On October 13 the eight previously arrested were rounded up and shot. Later, on November 16, two cooks were shot as well. Most of them were leaders in the church.

After the war Brethren attempted to investigate to learn more. Little could be learned beyond the brutal fact that they had been martyred because of their Christian faith. Today we pause to remember the terrible sacrifice of these Chinese Brethren martyrs on this date in 1940.

Source: Adapted from Frank Ramirez Tercentennial Minute for October 12, 2008