Changes and New Openings
For many years the North China mission had been urgently appealing for more workers for Shantung Province. In the meantime, since the American war, the Board had opened missions in Italy, Brazil, and Mexico, while the older ones in China were languishing for want of help. It seemed difficult for the people in the home land to realize the fact that a mission to be efficient, must not only have sufficient reinforcements to fill up the gaps made by deaths and departures, but the force must from time to time be augmented.
About this time, 1885, each of the missionaries received from the Board a copy of Rev. C. H. Carpenter's then recent book, Self-Support in Bassein. Dr. Crawford read it with interest, and inferred from the Board's sending it that they were ready to favor self-support. He felt thus encouraged to visit the United States for the purpose of consulting with the Board, and if possible with them to enter upon some plan for informing the Baptist public, and especially those who would become missionaries. So he resolved to delay further appeal for a large number of new workers until he should see what would result from this effort.
In March, 1885, Dr. Crawford started to the home land on this mission. A full account of this visit with its results is given in his book, Evolution in My Mission Views.
After about two years of wearisome negotiations, word was received that the house at Hwang Hien might be obtained without further trouble. The United States consul had referred the matter to the United States minister at Peking, and the opposition to the missionaries' renting had vanished on the arrival of instructions from the Chinese government. The owner being greatly in need of money, the house was secured at once. Then the question arose, who should occupy it? Mrs. Pruitt and Mrs. Halcomb having both died, their husbands did not think it best to go there alone. It was speedily arranged that the Davaults and the Joiners should take charge of the new station. The house was sufficiently large to be
divided into two separate establishments. They removed to it in October, 1885, and Hwang Hien was at last occupied.
In November Mrs. Crawford visited them, and assisted in talking to the women who came in great numbers to see their new neighbors. She also spent much of the autumn at Buh Go, where renewed interest was manifested in the gospel. In the spring of 1886, her first visit was made to Ching Chow to see her daughter, Mrs. Jones, and also to see the prosperous work of the English Baptist mission.
Dr. Crawford, while in America, 1885-1886, resigned the treasurership of the mission, and the books were given over to Mr. Pruitt who had been appointed to that office by the Board. At the same time Dr. Crawford wrote asking the Teng Chow Church no longer to consider him their pastor, but to look to a younger man who would be better able to bear the responsibilities. The church in reply urged him to withdraw the request, but he said that his decision must be regarded as final. Then they chose Mr. Pruitt who was the same day elected pastor of the church at Shang Tswang. This had been left pastorless through the recent resignation of Mr. Halcomb who dissolved his connection with the Foreign Mission Board on account of changes in his religious views. Mr. Halcomb left the mission that autumn, and became United States consul at Chefoo.
In December of that year Dr. Crawford, partly disappointed in the object of his visit to America, returned to Teng Chow and resumed his work of daily preaching to the heathen, and also aided Mr. Pruitt in the Sunday labors at the chapel.
In the autumn of 1885, Miss Moon began her interesting work at Ping Tu. Several visits to this region had been made by the gentlemen of the mission, and one by the first Mrs. Pruitt, but no regular labor had been carried on there. A native Christian, who had for twenty years served the Crawfords in Teng Chow, secured lodging for Miss Moon at his mother's house, but the quarters were cramped and uncomfortable. After repeated failures she succeeded in renting a small house admirably situated for her purposes, which later became Miss Knights home. Miss Moon toiled here indefatigably during the spring, autumn and winter of a number of years, and won the hearts of the people and laid the foundation of a noble work.
In October, 1887, Mr. Davault died of consumption in Dr. Crawford's home, and Mr. and Mrs. Joiner soon returned to their native land for the restoration of health. During Mr. Davault's last
illness, Dr. Crawford visited Hwang Hien and spent some time preaching in the city and neighborhood. There he met Tan Ho Bang of Saling, near Ping Tu, who from him heard the gospel for the first time. It was a pleasure to find a man with such religious inclinations, and to learn from him the nature of the sect to which he belonged, called the Lao Tien Men. This sect rejects idolatry, offers prayers to the Heavenly Teacher, has ten commandments, resembling in many particulars those given to Moses, and teaches self denial for their religion. It was a question with some of the missionaries whether this sect might not be a remnant of Nestorian Christianity, which was introduced into China many centuries ago.
Dr. Crawford had many talks with Mr. Tan and left him in the hands of Mr. Joiner, but later Mr. Tan went to see Dr. Crawford at Teng Chow.
In the autumn Miss Moon wrote requesting Mrs. Crawford to help her a while at Ping Tu, and get acquainted with the work preparatory to having the care over it during Miss Moon's visit to the home land. She therefore spent November there and was much pleased with the people and prospects. During the winter two members of the Lao Tien, Men of Saling, one of them the elder brother of Tan Ho Bang, and the leader of the sect in that village, came and begged Miss Moon to go and instruct the women of his neighborhood. Whereupon she went to Saling and found the women eager to hear, and she promised to go again and take Mrs. Crawford with her. On going together they found no little interest in this "new way." On their second visit Dr. Crawford accompanied them, he lodging at an inn in the neighboring town of Tang To. The Saling men went to him there every night for religious instruction. After his departure to intinerate among the surrounding villages it was arranged that Mrs. Crawford should teach the men and Miss Moon the women. On rainy days when they could not go out to the field and at night, from one to a dozen men would sit for hours at a time, listening intently to the divine message and asking many questions. It was during this week of most arduous work that Miss Moon, seeing the people hungering for the bread of life, promised that she would not leave for America until she could secure for them a resident missionary at Ping Tu.
In January, 1888, an experiment was made in the work at Teng Chow by renting temporarily a room in the water city, where Mrs. Crawford, accompanied by a woman servant, spent ten days, gaining access to many women who lived too far away for her regular visiting. One evening a respectable merchant called and asked for
an interview. Though as a rule it was best not to receive men, yet finding that he was an acquaintance of her hostess and highly esteemed by the neighbors she admitted him. He apologized for calling, saying that his little daughter had been coming daily to see her and had told him some of her words. He remarked that the neighbors were all puzzled at her leaving her comfortable home and living for days in such poor, cramped quarters, and wondered what could be her motive. Patiently she explained to him the importance of the message they were carrying to his people — salvation in this life and in the next — and how difficult it was to reach many of the women without coming to live right among them; how that in spring and autumn she went to the villages, and now while the weather was too cold to go to a distance, she intended to visit for a while for the same purpose in several parts of the city. He seemed to appreciate the good intentions and the message itself, and both his wife and daughter came often with others to hear and inquire. Being pleased with this effort, Mrs. Crawford each successive winter rented rooms in the different parts of the main city where she could live and labor for days, and form more intimate friendships among the women, thereby opening the way for regular visits to their homes. Many were thus drawn nearer to her. Some of her best work she thinks was done in this way, and that souls were led to Jesus Christ. November of this year was spent with Miss Moon at Ping Tu, while Dr. Crawford was tenting among the villages around Teng Chow and Whang Hien.
It was during this visit to Ping Tu in November, 1888, that Mr. Li, the village school teacher, came with a friend to Mrs. Crawford to search into the real inwardness of this new doctrine. He afterwards told her that he had had strong prejudices against Christianity and its propagators, but hearing so much about it among the villagers he decided to go and find out for himself. After a long conversation and many questions answered, he became convinced of the divine origin of the gospel, and with an honest heart set about to seek his own salvation. For several years he has been the beloved and efficient pastor of four Ping Tu churches.
In the beginning of 1889 Dr. Crawford's health was seriously threatened. His physician strongly advised his going home, and expressed a doubt whether it would be wise for him ever to spend another winter in Teng Chow. Later his symptoms of paralysis ceased to be alarming, and he was able to go without his wife, whose presence was so much needed in Teng Chow.
On April 22,1889, he set out for the States, but went no farther
Mrs. Crawford in her summer itinerating wheel-barrow.
east than Texas. After the failure to secure the sanction of the Board in introducing self-support principles, Dr. Crawford had turned his attention more earnestly than ever to the study of mission matters at home and abroad. His views, though outlined in the main, were not fully matured at the time of his visit to Texas. While there he attended two associations, lectured on the subject to a few churches and to the State Convention, but most of his time was spent in rusticating with relatives and recuperating his impaired strength. He was present at the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at Ft. Worth, and three days after its adjournment he turned his face toward China, fully restored in health.
In July, 1889, Mr. G. P. Bostick and wife reached Teng Chow and became members of Dr. Crawford's family. Miss Fannie Knight came also to labor with Miss Moon at Ping Tu. All three of the stations needed the Bosticks. Mr. and Mrs. Pruitt who had reopened Hwang Hien in 1888, were there now alone. Ping Tu was without a man to lead the infant disciples in that region, and Mr. Bostick seemed indispensable also at Teng Chow. The scattered Christians in this station were becoming discouraged. The paralyzing effect of conditions around them had prevented the development of native leaders. On the disbanding of the boys' school, some of the students who had expected employment in the mission had failed to get it, though a few were engaged as teachers for the new missionaries. But these missionaries except one had either died or gone home. Realizing the situation the graduates, one after another, had sought employment in other missions, and in process of time joined the denominations which they served. Some of their parents and friends lost interest in Christianity — their interest being in the hope of gain — and had to be excluded from the church as dead branches. Others after many temptations were righted, and were soon beginning to show signs of true Christian life, but a foreign leader was still indispensable. One by one the young missionaries had turned their faces westward, until the native members feared that when Dr. and Mrs. Crawford, "the old people," should die, there would be no one to take their places. Under such conditions it was urged that Mr. Bostick should remain at Teng Chow, and he himself decided to do so at least temporarily.
They were pleased to find that Mr. and Mrs. Bostick and Miss Knight came to China, taking the native self-support ideas for granted. Though they had not studied the subject in detail with reference to foreign missions, yet self reliance was a principle they
had grown up with, and one careful look at the field confirmed them as to its correctness. When the native Christians who were recuperating from the opposite practice and were growing in their conceptions of self-support, heard that Mr. Bostick would remain at Teng Chow they thanked God and took courage.
In November, 1889, Mr. and Mrs. League went out to reinforce the Whang Hien mission, and Miss Barton went to Teng Chow.
In May, 1890, the second General Missionary Conference was held at Shanghai. Mr. Bostick and Mrs. Crawford prepared to attend it, but when the time came to start she was sick with the grippe, and Mr. Bostick went without her. Four days later when she was barely able to be up, Mrs. Bostick was taken with virulent smallpox, and the physician advised that Mr. Bostick be telegraphed for at once as it would probably prove fatal. The few days that followed were days of indescribable anxiety. One of the loveliest of women, who gave promise of becoming one of the most efficient of missionaries, was about, to be suddenly snatched away! How could they give her up? Dr. Crawford was in Texas, Mr. Bostick in Shanghai, Miss Barton at Ping Tu, and Mrs. Crawford was all alone with the sufferer. The kind physician was present much of the time, but his own wife was ill and he was exhausted from care of her. One of the Presbyterian missionaries kindly offered his aid in nursing, but Mrs. Crawford thought it best not to accept this aid so long as her own strength held out. She did not leave Mrs. Bostick except for meals until the last day (though not thinking it was to be the last) when she wrote for Mr. Elterich to come and sit by the patient while she herself took a little rest. At the end of three hours Mrs. Crawford was called, and to her great distress, found Mrs. Bostick rapidly sinking and too far gone for any parting messages. About noon she died. The next day she was buried, and the day following the stricken husband arrived at the sad, lonely home. A few days later he took his little daughter to Shanghai to be sent in charge of missionary friends to America.
In July, 1890, Dr. Crawford arrived in Teng Chow from Texas, and in August Miss Thornton, of Alabama, reinforced that station.
Go to Chapter 20
[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909; reformatted and reprinted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. - jrd]
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