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 William S. Walker, who served in China from 1881 to 1884.
SHANGHAI, China–The progress of our work is encouraging at present. True, only three have been baptized this year, but there is decided progress in other directions.
For instance, we have a flourishing Seminary of which Dr. Yates is president and general manager. The number of students is only six or seven, but of that number three promising young preachers will go forth this year to be stationed in neighboring cities, and I believe they will do good work. Last evening I heard two of them preach and their sincerity, as well as general demeanor, impressed me very favorably.
Then Dr. Yates is working hard on his translations, giving the people and the future missionary such a clear insight into the meaning of the New Testament as will hardly admit of improvement, comparing the Greek as he goes, and translating into the language of the masses. He sometimes speaks of making a dictionary of the Shanghai colloquial, but is as yet undecided.
Sometime ago, we went up to Quin-San and Soo Chow, two cities on the canal, distant 50 and 80 miles respectively. In the former place, we have organized a church and have a comfortable place of worship. In the latter, which is the largest city in this province, with a population near 1 million, we have a good native pastor and about 10 native Christians, all of whom were formerly connected with the church in Shanghai. We bought a choice lot, located on one of the principal streets, where a cheap yet commodious house of worship and home for the pastor will soon be erected.
William S. Walker
Aug. 21, 1882