EDITOR’S NOTE: Each day during Baptist Press’ coverage of the Beijing Olympics, we are publishing a letter from a Southern Baptist missionary who served in China during the years before the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. Some of the letters reveal these missionaries’ great love for the people of China; others provide glimpses into what life was like for an American living abroad in the 19th century. We hope the collection helps Southern Baptists capture the passion of these great souls and understand the sacrifices they made so the good news of God’s love could be taken to what was, for them, the ends of the earth. The letter below was written by the venerable missionary Charlotte “Lottie” Moon, who served in China from 1873 to 1912.
PINGTU, China — Recently, on a Sunday which I was spending in a village near Pingtu city, two men came to me with the request that I would conduct the general services. They wished me to read and explain, to a mixed audience of men and women, the parable of the prodigal son. I replied that no one should undertake to speak without preparation, and that I had made none. (I had been busy all the morning teaching the women and girls.)
After awhile they came again to know my decision. I said, “It is not the custom of the ancient church that women preach to men.” I could not, however, hinder their calling upon me to lead in prayer.
Need I say that, as I tried to lead their devotions, it was hard to keep back the tears of pity for those sheep without a shepherd? Men asking to be taught and no one to teach them. We read of one who “came forth and saw a great multitude, and He had compassion on them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.” And how did He show his compassion? “He began to teach them many things.”
Brethren, ministers and students for the ministry, who may read these lines, does there dwell in your hearts none of that divine compassion which stirred the heart of Jesus Christ, and which led him to “teach” the multitude “many things”?
Thirty miles from Pingtu city is a gold mine. Nestled close among low-lying hills are two foreign houses and the buildings over the mine. Several American miners are there in the employ of the Chinese government. These men are living a hard, dull, isolated life, in a remote region, far from home and friends, with the sole purpose of worldly gain. So much for the devotees of Mammon.
One cannot help asking sadly, why is love of gold more potent than love of souls? The number of men mining and prospecting for gold in Shantung is more than double the number of men representing Southern Baptists! What a lesson for Southern Baptists to ponder!
Feb. 9, 1889