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Jehu Lewis Shuck
Early Baptist China Missionary
Virginia Baptist Ministers, Third Series
By George Braxton Taylor, 1912

The same year that saw Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary, go forth to foreign shores, saw also the birth of Jehu Lewis Shuck, who was to be the first American Baptist missionary to China. He was born in Alexandria, Va., September 4, 1812, when our second war with Great Britain was going on, and perhaps news of the battle between the Guerriere and the Constitution, which took place on August 19th, had not much more than reached the ancient Virginia town. If the story of his boyhood and youth is not generally known, an incident of his early manhood has been told far and wide. Judson in India and Luther Rice telling the story of the heathen far and wide in this land, had quickened the missionary spirit among the churches. A missionary meeting was held at which young Mr. Shuck was present. A contribution was called for and when the service was over the gifts of the people were being counted. There were bank notes, silver, and even gold. There was a card that had been put in by a young man at the back of the church. It had on it this one word: "Myself." "He could not give silver or gold to the mission cause so he gave himself." On September 10, 1835, he was set apart as a missionary to China, in the First Baptist Church, Richmond, Va., and on September 22d he sailed on the Louvre under appointment of the Boston Board of the Triennial Convention. He did not go alone, for on September 8th he had been united in marriage with Miss Henrietta Hall, of Lancaster County, Virginia, a daughter of Rev. Addison Hall. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. Henry Keeling. In one year from the time of their departure from their native land Mr. and Mrs. Shuck reached Macao, China. In his work in China, after leaving Macao, he lived successively in Hong Kong, Canton, and Shanghai. While in Hong Kong his wife, whose life has been written by Rev. Dr. J. B. Jeter, departed this life. In 1846, Mr. Shuck visited this country, bringing with him a Chinese convert, Yong Seen Sang. They were present in Richmond at the Southern Baptist Convention just starting on its career, and traveled extensively, making appeals for a church building in China. They were cordially received, and for long, long years afterwards Yong Seen Sang was distinctly remembered, and representatives of the Foreign Board were often asked questions as to his welfare. During this visit to America, when Mr. Shuck brought home his children, Mecha, their Chinese nurse, for whom Mrs. Shuck had often prayed, was baptized, December 4, 1846, by Dr. Jeter, who, fifteen years before, had baptized her lamented mistress. In October, 1846, he was married to Miss Lizzie Sexton, of Alabama, Rev. M. P. Jewett performing the ceremony. Upon his return to China Mr. Shuck went to Shanghai, where the rest of his life in that land was spent. While in Shanghai he erected a chapel and translated ten tracts. Mr. Shuck, with Messrs. Yates, Tobey, and James,
[p. 36]
were assigned to this city to begin the mission here. Mr. Shuck arrived on November 26th. Yong and Min, converts at Canton, moved to Shanghai, and November 6, 1847, a Baptist Church of ten members was organized: "Yates, clerk; Tobey and Yong, deacons; Shuck, pastor." Mr. Shuck soon became familiar with the dialect. During an excursion that he and Mr. Pearcy took into the country each of them was presented with an idol which had been worshipped for many years. In reference to an out-station, which was established, Mr. Shuck remarked:
"Let the brethren bear in mind that the Foreign Board of the Southern Baptist Convention was the first Protestant Board of Missions in the world who ever held property and gained a permanent footing in the interior of China."
On November 21st his second wife died. On July 4, 1853, his connection with the Foreign Board was dissolved and the next year he went to California under the auspices of the Domestic Mission Board. On June 5, 1854, he had been married in Charleston, S. C., by Rev. J. R. Kendrick to his third wife, Miss Anna L. Trotti. During his seven years in California as missionary to the Chinese he built a chapel in Sacramento, organized a church of sixteen members, and edited a Baptist newspaper. His first convert in California was Wong Min, who was afterwards for years a successful native preacher in Canton. In 1861, Mr. Shuck left California and located at Barnwell Court-house, S. C., being pastor of the Blackville and Steel Creek churches. Not long before his death, which took place August 20, 1863, he said to a friend at his bedside: "Preaching the gospel has been the joy of my life."
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Exxtract from a Letter from J. L. Shuck
Baptist Missionary Magazine, 1835

[From George B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, Third Series, 1912. jrd]



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