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The Fulfilment Of A Dream Of Pastor Hsis by A. Mildred Cable


|Death is short, and life is long;
Satan is strong, and Christ more strong.
At His Word, Who hath led us hither,
The Red Sea must part hither and thither.
At His Word Who goes before us too,
Jordan must cleave to let us through.|

|On the other side of the River was also a meadow,
curiously beautified with lilies, and it was green
all the year round.| -- Pilgrim's Progress.



CHANGES in the staff at Taiyueanfu released for the oversight of mission work in Hwochow, Jane Stevens and Mildred Clarke.

They might well shrink from the task facing them. Work in the provincial capital had been of so totally different an order, and life in a large community of foreigners had limited their sphere to the oversight of a small school for girls, and the instruction of women inquirers.

None had felt more strongly the seriousness of the step taken by Miss Jacobsen, and they came to Hwochow with the determination that all should early understand the impossibility of intercourse outside the most rigid observance of etiquette, Chinese and Western. Feeling strongly that such an attitude on their part would be the most helpful factor in the gathering around them of better-class women, they faithfully carried it into practice. Men who were connected with the Church were received by them only under the most formal restrictions. Finding it impossible to eat Chinese food, a simple, but foreign menage, took the place of the hitherto free-and-easy conditions.

It was a severe test for Chinese and foreigners alike; desire for renewal of the former conditions of intimacy met with no encouragement from those who could not but constantly bear the past in mind, and who felt that, for the highest interests of the work, a new relationship must be established. This attitude was naturally regarded as aloofness, and was galling to those whose love had been set on the young missionaries fresh from Norway, with all the enthusiasm of youth, to whom they themselves had taught the language and who belonged to them as others could not.

Miss Clarke gave her time to the Girls' School, the pupils of which now numbered nearly twenty, and those who followed her have reaped where she sowed. Often sad and weary she plodded on, but God in His time gave the increase. Miss Stevens, to the limit of her strength, and often beyond it, faithfully worked in the city and villages, suffering much which to her was intense hardship, and feeling keenly the isolation and lack of confidence amongst the people who misunderstood the course of action deliberately adopted. Thus, while bringing heartache to themselves, these missionaries were enabled to make easy the way to all who followed them.

The year 1900 dawned. In the month of June the ladies closed school and gladly accepted an invitation from friends in their old station to visit them. To Taiyueanfu they went, and after many anxious days spent with the missionaries gathered there they, in obedience to the Governor's command, helpless to disobey, even though they suspected his treacherous promises of protection, moved to a house near his Yamen.

|Arrived at the house chosen for them, they made themselves as comfortable as possible for the night; and the next morning (Sunday, July 8) were able to examine their surroundings. They found that for their whole number (twenty-six, including children) there were only two comparatively small courts, the two inner courts being already occupied by the Roman Catholics. . . . When the fateful day (Monday, July 9) dawned, the foreigners evidently had no inkling as to what was to happen. Just before noon the sub-prefect called and took a list of all who were in the house, both foreigners and Chinese, saying it was by order of the Governor. . . . As was ascertained just a year later, when other Protestant missionaries returned to the province, the Governor had determined that on that day he would kill all the foreigners in Taiyueanfu. He evidently only took a few of the officials into his confidence, and one at least -- the Tao Tai -- strenuously opposed the course he was about to pursue, but unfortunately without result.

|It must have been about two o'clock in the afternoon when he ordered a number of officers, with their soldiers, to accompany him, and mounting his own horse, led the way. He made as though he would go out of the city by the North Gate, but before reaching that point, he suddenly wheeled round and went to the house where the missionaries were confined. He there ordered their immediate arrest, and they appear to have made no resistance -- as, indeed, it would have been useless. All who were found within the compound (Protestants and Roman Catholics) were seized; and it so happened there were several Chinese there on business. . . . No excuse was listened to, and all were marched off to the Governor's Yamen between files of soldiers, where they were taken into the courtyard adjoining the street and surrounded by soldiers -- not Boxers.

|As to what really occurred, the whole truth will probably never be known, but from inquiries made on the spot, it seems certain that the Governor did not assault any with his own hand; but, having asked the missionaries where they came from, and being answered, 'From England,' and 'From France,' just gave the order, 'Sha' (kill) to the soldiers, who answered with a shout and immediately fell upon their defenceless victims, killing them indiscriminately.|

The Church in Hwochow, Chaocheng, and Fensi had a marvellous escape. The Boxers, practising their mystic rites, overran the district. Whole families fled to the mountains, and no one was safe from robbery and violence. The mandarin of Chaocheng, fearful lest massacres should take place in the county under his jurisdiction and desiring at any cost to keep the peace, called together some of the leading gentry and asked for advice as to the problem facing them. |I know,| said he, |that calling upon the Christians to recant will be useless, but can we not issue tickets to them upon which are the very words they use in entering the Church, 'I promise to repent?' There should be no difficulty in getting them to take these, for it will mean to them what they themselves preach, while to the anti-Christian fanatic it will be sufficiently satisfactory.|

Orders were accordingly issued that all Christians were to receive this official paper whereby their safety would be ensured. Large numbers in the Church regarded the mandarin's action as the overruling of Providence on their behalf, and accepted tickets which involved no verbal recantation of their faith. Others, amongst whom was Mrs. Hsi (now a widow), with more sensitive spiritual perceptions, refused to take advantage of even the semblance of a subterfuge.

The Chaocheng mandarin, surrounded by his bodyguard, went outside the city gates to the place where the Boxers were practising their rites with the intention of burning incense in their presence, by which act he would acknowledge them as invulnerable and holy men. At the critical moment, however, one of them was said to have made a move as if to attack the official, who instantly called upon his bodyguard to seize the men, exclaiming: |These are insurgents, and no holy men; bind them, they are prisoners.| As such they entered the city, and Boxerism never spread in the district. Thus did the Hand of God protect the hundreds of men and women who in these three counties were called by His Name, and while in many places few escaped the sword, the numerically largest Church in the province of Shansi was spared.

Mrs. Hsi was in Chaocheng seeking to help the women in their troubles, when news reached her that her brother-in-law, Elder Si, was stabbed by one of the local Boxers. Rumours followed rapidly, and she heard that her mother-in-law was in serious danger. She hastened to her home, and found matters worse than she had feared. There was no place in which to live, the house was destroyed, her clothes were stolen, and had it not been for the thoughtfulness of one missionary who, in the midst of personal danger, found time to buy and send to her some garments and bedcovering, she would have been in a sad plight. Her old mother could not walk, so badly had she been beaten by the robbers, and terrified, the two women crept to the fields and hid themselves. When night fell they returned to shelter and to get a little food, crawling out to their hiding-place before the cock crew each morning. Terror was upon the whole populace. The official had not been successful here, as in Chaocheng, in dealing with the movement, and the party of missionaries who had for some time been gathered in Pingyangfu were openly attacked and robbed by Boxer bands as they left the city under official escort.

In loneliness and peril Mrs. Hsi and her aged mother cried to God, as the anxious, weary days passed by. The missionaries were gone, very many killed, others in hiding, and some, after perils and sufferings unspeakable, had reached Hankow. After some months came the additional sorrow of the death of her brother-in-law, Elder Si, who had managed for her all matters in which she required help.

Gradually the storm blew over, but those who passed through that period can never forget it. For Christ's sake they had suffered, and they could not again be as before. The Church in Shansi |had a new and powerful weapon| in her hands, |the power of her sufferings.|

A few months later, as soon as passports were available, the missionaries were back at their posts. There was much to tell and to hear, as old friends met and were able to recount all the wonderful deliverances of the past year. But how many vacant places there were! How could they be filled? Ripe experience and Christlike sympathy were needed to deal with the new situation.

Some had, under pressure, in a weak moment, recanted; others had resisted this temptation, but fallen over the more subtle question of indemnity for property destroyed. The situation, moreover, was changed; foreigner and Christian alike were now in the ascendancy. Compensation for life and property was granted, and though the members of the China Inland Mission declined to accept this, their action was made the occasion of a laudatory proclamation which called upon the people to note and imitate such an exemplification of self-forgetting goodness.

In the providence of God the lives of a few missionaries had been spared to return, and with the benefit of their experience, to help new workers to an understanding of a situation which, mishandled, would inevitably lead to disastrous consequences.

Nothing could give Mrs. Hsi greater pleasure than to hear from her friend, Miss French, that Hwochow was to be her future centre. I, as a new worker, was to accompany her, and together we reached the city which was to be henceforth our home.

The reception given by the very few Christians who gathered to meet us, was both cordial and critical. Miss French was welcome as being one whose reputation had long ago reached them, who had already paid several visits to the station, and whose Chinese, they soon remarked, was |as good as Miss Jacobsen's!| Of me they knew nothing, and I had to meet the gaze of many eyes and listen to the remark, before I opened my month to speak, that it was impossible to understand my words. I had only one asset, and that was the fact that this being my first station I should belong to them, and when the day dawned that would release my stammering tongue, the honour of having taught and trained me would be theirs!


Yamen=law courts or Mansion House.

From Fire and Sword in Shansi, by Dr. E. H. Edwards.

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