Seeking New Fields
Their party reached Ping Tu on the sixteenth of September. Mr. and Mrs. Sears and Miss Knight, of the Board's mission, were residing there at that time. Mr. and Mrs. League were living in a house rented and repaired with funds from the Board, which, as it was not then needed by any of the Board's missionaries, they were allowed to occupy on condition that they themselves paid the rent. The Crawfords stopped with the Leagues, and the Bosticks with the Sears family. As soon as the roads would permit, Dr. Crawford and Mr. Bostick started for Chu Ching, a large district city eighty miles to the southwest, in search of a new and separate field for the Gospel Mission. Mr. League had previously visited this city, and all three were well pleased with it. They met there an old acquaintance, Mr. Ma, whom they employed to rent a house for them. They then went to Ku Cheo, farther to the southwest, but not liking the prospects there they returned by way of Kiao Chow, where were located some Swedish Baptist missionaries. They returned to Ping Tu after an absence of three weeks. About two weeks later Mr. Ma arrived, saying that he could get a house a mile from Chu Ching city, and bringing with him a description of the house with probable terms. He was sent back with certain propositions to the owner, while Dr. Crawford and Mr. Bostick went to Kiao Chow to await his report. In a few days Mr. Ma, accompanied by the son of the widowed landlady, arrived and an agreement was soon drawn up. Dr. Crawford went with the two men to pay the money and take possession of the house. But, alas for Chinese bargain! The young man refused to carry out his promise, and it was found that the whole transaction was a scheme to press a relative into taking the house at a higher price than he was willing to give. While this was going on at Chu Ching, the Bosticks and Mrs. Crawford got their baggage in order for removal, and anxiously awaited Dr. Crawford's message advising them to join him. As it was now December and stormy weather was daily expected, they decided not to wait longer for a message
A picture of the sacred mountian of Tai Shan at whose foot the Crawfords lived six years.
A picture of the god worshipped on top of Tai Shan is not included.
but proceed on the journey. A cart with most of their effects was started off in advance, they expecting to follow next day, when Dr. Crawford unexpectedly returned, saying there had been a total failure to get the house, and that further efforts under the circumstances would be futile.
A bargain was immediately closed for a house in Ping Tu, which had been offered them some time previously. A few repairs were made, and on December 13, 1893, the Crawfbrds and Bosticks moved into it. It was a severe disappointment to them to relinquish for the winter all prospects of entering a new field, but they accepted it as an ordering of the Divine Father, and felt that they could work for him anywhere in that heathen land. They gave themselves to preaching on the streets and in the villages, and at the Sunday morning services, which were held in turn at different Christians' houses. The ladies visited the women in their homes, or presented the gospel to them at the mission homes to which they came in numbers. Repeated excursions were made to the villages in company with Miss Knight, and gospel seed were sown in various ways.
On December 24, Messrs. Herring, Blalock, Royall and Crocker reached them from the home land to unite their labors with the six Gospel Mission workers already at Ping Tu. Mr. King also joined their band early in that month. And during the winter they had many precious meetings for prayer, praise, and consultation. Further efforts were made to secure houses in the Chu Ching region, but without success.
Miss Knight herself was strongly in favor of self-support methods, and now waited to see if these would be continued in the Ping Tu field. She inquired of various members of her mission in regard to their proposed future policy, but received replies which left her in doubt until she heard from the Saling Christians that several innovations were to be inaugurated. Subsidy was about to be introduced, and she would have no power to prevent it, so she decided to work with the Gospel Mission. She united with the band of eleven in their printed appeal for one hundred new laborers. At the same time she wrote to her supporting churches of the Chowan Association, North Carolina, and asked them to support her directly instead of through the Board. She also sent a copy of this letter to the Biblical Recorder and one to the board.
In February Messrs. Herring and King made an extensive journey to examine into a wide unevangelized region lying in the western end of the province, which they found to contain seven
districts, or counties, with a population of about two million, and only one station occupied by Protestant missionaries. After general consultation, it was unanimously decided to settle in the various parts of this field as soon as practicable, Messrs. Herring and Blalock set out at once for Taianfu, the prefectural city, Mr. King to Hsin Tai, while Dr. Crawford and Mr. Crocker started on April 14 for Lai Wu city thirty miles to the east of Taianfu. After a wearisome journey of two weeks, including a few days' rest with the English Baptists at Ching Chow, they reached Lai Wu city, which lies on the southern border of a rich and beautiful valley. Dr. Crawford was delighted with the location, but to his great disappointment was unable to secure lodgings at the inns. He wrote of this to his wife:"As no suitable inn could be found in the city, we thought it best to leave after dinner and go up the valley to a large town thirty li distant, where we took dinner on the third of May. We then decided to go back to Ko Tsze and put up at the large, roomy inn just within the west gate of the town, where we had taken dinner May first. We entered it just a little before sunset on Saturday, and thought we would make it our resting place for a week or two at least. We also entertained the hope of renting the whole inn for our temporary residence. We liked the position in many respects, and were very happy that night in our large airy room, with mind and body well prepared to enjoy rest from traveling. But lo! the next day was held a large market, and crowds of gazers all day long rushed into the court and our room in spite of the opposition of our host, and our efforts to keep them out by politeness and door shutting were equally unavailing. All this alarmed our host and interfered with his business to such an extent that he urged us to leave that afternoon. With great difficulty we obtained his permission to remain until early next morning, when with sad hearts we set out on the main road towards Taian city. We traveled a few miles and stopped at a small inn on the east of Fung Tswong for breakfast. After breakfast crowds of boys and men gathered at the inn and so annoyed our host that he also wished us to leave. But the crowd was not very great and was respectful and manageable, so we were allowed to stay until the cool of the evening."After many similar experiences, with still no prospect of a resting place, they received a letter from Mr. Herring asking that they come to Taian, where the people seemed comparatively friendly, and they set out at once for that place. On arrival they found that Mr. Herring had just moved into some rooms of his newly rented
The bridge by Mr. Bostick's house, where the first persons were baptized in Tai An.
house. On the next day Dr. Crawford rented a house adjoining on the west, which he and Mr. Crocker occupied at once. Owing to some Roman Catholic troubles the public mind was in a strong anti-foreign mood, and there was no probability of their being able to enter Lai Wu for some time. Thus it seemed best to settle temporarily at Taian, and endeavor from it to enter Lai Wu or some other suitable station. The house that Dr. Crawford rented was an old bean oil factory which was greatly dilapidated, and men were immediately set to work to clean and put it into habitable condition. He wrote his wife to get ready to join him at an early day. His letter however, did not reach her for two weeks, and in the meantime the anti-Roman Catholic excitement had reached Taian. A flag was hoisted, and placards were posted threatening with severe punishment any person who should rent houses to foreigners, sell them provisions or accommodate them in any way. The go-betweens in securing the two houses were alarmed, and the landlord stopped Dr. Crawford's workmen, leaving his repairs incomplete.
Mrs. Crawford and Mr. Bostick started on the twentieth of June, she on a mule litter and he on a mule for Taian, leaving Mrs. Bostick and Miss Knight at Ping Tu. At Ching Chow, four days from Ping Tu, Mrs. Crawford received a letter from her husband advising her to remain there until further news, as the excitement was very great and the hostile flag again up. At the end of the next week another letter came requesting her to proceed on her journey. She and Mr. Bostick again set out from Ching Chow an the third of July. At many places unfriendly crowds scowled upon them. Sometimes it was impossible to get accommodations at the inns, and everywhere curious gazers besieged them; but fully realizing the situation and committing themselves to God, they brought to the front all their tact, patience and good humor, and thus avoided any serious difficulty or detention. Before reaching the mountain pass they feared that the mule litter could not get over it, and would have to be taken to pieces, and its occupant otherwise transported. They spent a night at the foot of the pass in the city of Posan with some native Christians of the English Baptist mission, who told them that the mules could take the empty litter across the pass, and that they could get a sedan to convey Mrs. Crawford. So early next morning they started over. Mrs. Crawford was carried in the sedan forty li to the dinner station, where Mr. Bostick, who had preceded her by an hour, told the inn keeper of her coming, and impressed upon the bystanders that if the women would wait
until she could eat and take a short rest, they might then go in and see her. The door of the room had no shutter, consequently she was entirely at the mercy of the crowd. They allowed her to finish dinner in quiet, then Mr. Bostick threw a quilt on the frame of an old bedstead, and Mrs. Crawford lay down for a rest. But there was to be no rest for her. As the crowds saw the bowls from which they had eaten carried out they swarmed into the room. An old woman seventy-four years of age led the way, and sat down by Mrs. Crawford. Seeing there was no chance for rest, Mrs. Crawford began talking to the old woman who was delighted that she could understand the words. After answering the usual questions, where she was going, for what, how many children she had, how old she was, etc., she began to tell of the Heavenly Father's love in sending his Son Jesus to save a lost world. The woman and those standing around at once became eagerly interested. "Tell me more," she would say, if the speaker paused for a moment. "Tell me more—I have never heard such words before. We have met this one time, but we shall never meet again. Tell me more. I shall not leave you until you start on your journey." All weariness was forgotten and, with that old woman's hands stroking her head as she lay on the bed, they talked until time for her to start. The woman promised to look to the Heavenly Father for her salvation. Mr. Bostick throughout this trying journey, in his efforts to protect Mrs. Crawford from the crowds, scarcely got a moments rest for himself. Yet he embraced every fitting opportunity to present the word of life to the people.
As they approached the end of their journey, they met a man whom Dr. Crawford had sent to conduct them into the city so that no unnecessary publicity should be given to their arrival. They reached the new and strange home at dark on the sixth of July, after sixteen days (including the stay at Ching Chow) of great fatigue, exposure to the heat, the crowds, the rains, and the swollen streams by day, and the attacks of countless mosquitoes, fleas and other marauders by night. The hostile flag which had been twice taken down was up again at the time of their arrival, and matters were considered to be in a rather critical state. After two days' stay Mr. Bostick started back in the litter that had brought Mrs. Crawford. On his return journey he was several times in danger from swollen streams and perverse natives, but God graciously preserved him through it all.
The rainy season was at its height. Dr. Crawford's rented rooms leaked by the bucketful, and were temporarily useless. Between
rains the weather was excessively hot, and the courts had no trees, grass or flowers to mitigate its severity. The stopping of the workmen had left the repairs incomplete, but Dr. Crawford with a hired man from a distance soon put certain portions of the house in tolerable order. Exposure to the sun, worry with the ignorant masons and carpenters, besides frightened landlords and various other unmanageable surroundings, coming immediately after his hard journey on the wheelbarrow, undermined his strength. In the latter part of July he became dangerously ill from a malignant carbuncle on the back of his neck connected with other disorders. The old servant who came from Ping Tu with him, though an excellent Chinese cook, could not prepare foreign food, especially with the material at hand. They had but few cooking utensils, no kitchen and no stove, and their native fare was very poor. Besides, they were without a woman servant, and under all the conditions, both sickness and nursing were very trying. Messrs. Herring, Royall and Blalock next door, and Mr. Crocker in their own house, were all ready to help. Mr. Royall was their kind physician, and with a consulting visit from good Dr. Neal, of Tsinan, carried the case through successfully. Five weeks later when Dr. Crawford was beginning to recover, Mrs. Crawford was seized with acute dysentary, and had to keep her bed for more than a month. Fortunately, a few days before the attack she had engaged the services of an old woman who seemed to have a gift for nursing, and was a great help to them, though she was very hard of hearing; and in her weak state Mrs. Crawford could communicate with her only by signs. There was no foreign lady within a two days' journey. But the days passed; the gentlemen were kind and attentive, and cheered them with their presence and aid, and by degrees the sick ones recovered their usual health.
Before Mrs. Crawford's arrival many people came to the house to see the foreigners, and thus a number of acquaintances were formed. After the flag was hoisted and the placards posted, these visits ceased. The street arabs came to annoy the strangers, and whenever the missionaries appeared on the streets they were hooted at as "foreign devils." Mr. Herring's south garden wall was down, and many came in from that direction howling out opprobrious epithets. The premises of their western neighbor opened into their court by a shutterless door which formed his only egress to the street. He was a miller, and his many customers passed through the Crawfords' front court and street door, his children, dogs, chickens, donkeys, and hired men coming and going at
pleasure through all their courts. They submitted to this inconvenience for five months, and by so doing established friendly relations with their neighbors, or at least secured immunity from worse annoyance. Finally Dr. Crawford gave the miller a pair of cast-off shutters with which he made an outlet of his own to the street, and then built up the troublesome doorway. After Mrs. Crawford came a number of women visited her, among them being a near neighbor who soon began to love the gospel. She came repeatedly, and often said, "I love to hear your words." To her friendship they owed the comparative quietness they enjoyed during their long illness.
The landlord would not show himself, neither would he repair the leaking roof nor fulfill his written obligations. During September and October, the Imperial Road which passed Dr. Crawford's front door, was alive with mandarins on their way to Peking to join in celebrating the sixtieth birthday of the Empress Dowager. On that notable occasion, kept as a holiday all over the empire, it was the privilege of the Christian women of China, both native and foreign, to present her majesty with an elegant copy of the New Testament in a silver casket. More than ten thousand women contributed to this gift, which was presented in their name by the American and British ministers. On that very day the Emperor sent a eunuch of the inner palace to purchase of the American Bible Society's agent a copy of the Old and New Testaments, and thus the Bible entered the imperial household.
In September Messrs. Herring and Crocker removed to Tsining Chow, eighty miles southwest of Taian, where they had rented a house of the Presbyterian mission, and about two weeks later Mr. Royall joined them. On October 14 Mr. and Mrs. Bostick and Miss Knight, to the great joy of all, arrived from Ping Tu. The Bosticks soon moved into the east house, Messrs. King and Blalock stopping with them, while Miss Knight remained with the Crawfords.
The mandarins had not ceased going up to the capital before lines of soldiers began passing by on their way to the seat of war with. Japan. These soldiers arriving sometimes in bodies of several thousands gave the missionaries no little annoyance. Each detachment remained a part of a day and night in their immediate neighborhood. As the weather grew cold and the inns could not accommodate them all, they began to quarter themselves in any house they could enter. Wicked mischief-makers would tell them that the houses of the missionaries were vacant or that they were inns, and repeated efforts were made to force entrance. One night
a hundred or more took up quarters with the missionaries' western neighbor. A part of the intervening wall was low, and over this a couple of soldiers climbed and demanded that the street door be opened to their comrades. With difficulty Dr. Crawford convinced them that this was not proper, and they reluctantly retired. All night they kept up loud talking and gambling. Another day some soldiers climbed upon the wall of their front court, intending to come over, and one of them said, "These are perhaps the people we are fighting with, and let us kill them now." But his companion replied, "No, these are not the ones," and they desisted.
At Mr. Bostick's they also made several entrances, but finally the district magistrate came in person to make inquiries and to assure the gentlemen of his protection. He afterwards, at the request of the United States consul, sent the missionaries a proclamation to be posted at their doors commanding every one to secure their safety. These irregularities greatly hindered intercourse with the people. Few would come in under the circumstances, and they could not go about as freely as they desired. After the magistrate's visit much of the annoyance ceased. However, the conduct of the unaccommodating landlords greatly increased the difficulty, so that patience was the virtue most in demand.
In process of time some of the surrounding villages received them kindly and listened well to the message. Women also invited the lady missionaries into their homes. A few persons attended the Sunday preaching, and gradually friends were made.
Messrs. King and League made several efforts to effect permanent settlements at towns some distance from Taian. Failing in this Mr. League brought his family to Taian, and for a time they were in the home of Dr. Crawford. He succeeded in renting a house in a large town, Suei Pei, twenty miles east where he moved his family early in December, 1894.
The end of that year found all twelve of the Gospel Mission workers in their chosen fields. In answer to their appeal they expected some recruits during the following year, and felt encouraged by the steady growth of their principles among the home churches.
During the autumn, after their recovery from their severe illness, Dr. and Mrs. Crawford received many letters with assurances of sympathy from the native church members of Teng Chow, Buh Go, Hwang Hien, and Saling. The Wangs and others at Buh Go earnestly besought them to return and live there, as the climate at Taian evidently did not suit them. And if that was not possible,
A picture of the present baptistry in Mrs. Crawford's yard in Taianfu is not included.
then to return to Ping Tu that they might have the hope of seeing them again. In the spring of 1894 the two old cousins, Mrs. Wang's nephews, had taken the long journey to Ping Tu to see the Crawfords once more, one of them walking all the way. On parting the older one, seventy-five years of age, fell at Dr. Crawford's feet, embraced his knees, and burst into a loud wailing, saying, "I shall never see my dear old pastor again in this life."
The heathen about Taian, as in most places, were hard and unresponsive, but the Crawfords and their colleagues believed firmly that God had a people among them. The political horizon was dark and threatening. The war with Japan, which took place soon after their arrival, had filled the air with wars and rumors of wars. But God was their hope and, like the prophet Habakkuk, they could say, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be found on the vine; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Go to Chapter 24
[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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