« AnteriorContinuar »
MISSIONARY CHRONICLE Methodist New Connexion.
TREASURER: E. LUMBY, Esq., King Cross STREET,
THE Rev. W. N. Hall, and Mrs. Hall, with their infant son, arrived at Tientsin July 23rd. Mr. Hall says they were warmly welcomed by all their friends. "The political situation is critical, but our hope is in Jehovah, and we are not afraid. The following communications from Mr. Innocent are full of interesting facts,
CIIINA DROUGHT, FAILURE OF THE CROPS, is for their food, the cotton for their AND EXTREME SUFFERING OF clothing, and the straw gathered for THE PEOPLE
their year's fuel. Whatever of ready In giving you a few notes of my money they get must be by the extra visit to our Shantung mission sta labours of a son hiring his services as tions last month, it may be well a labourer, or by the nimble fingers to allude first to the distressed state of wives and daughters in spinning of the people throughout the Northern and weaving cotton, or plaiting straw; Provinces of China, from a drought which in the best times is but very which has prevailed during nine little, and which they spend in buying months. No part of the country needed articles that a farm will not could be more seriously affected by produce. The richer farmers of such a visitation than that through course can supply the markets. Last which I have passed, because 80 autumn, the crops fell about oneentirely agricultural ; and yet un half below the average owing to watered by any great stream or river, the lack of rain, and this was the All its cities are poor, and are chiefly beginning of their sorrow. This centres of official influence, or mar summer there cannot be said to have kets for the produce of the soil. been any crop at all, as all the seed There are no manufactures, except a sown in the ground either last fall little cotton-cloth and straw-braid, or in the spring has been destroyed made by the industrious women and by the drought-burnt up. As I girls of the poor ; otherwise, the dis passed along the roads at a time trict is barren of everything of com when the wheat harvest is generally mercial interest. It is a region of fer gathered the fields looked most desotile soil overcrowded with population, late and dreary. A few scattered and hence but few of the rich, and stunted straws were seen, such as many of the poor reside in it.
are left by the reapers for the poor There is this peculiarity about to glean. But no reaper had been in these country people which dis the field, and the gleaner did not tinguishes them from the people in a consider that the earless straws city like Tientsin, that every poor would compensate his toil, so they family, nearly, has a homestead, and were left to be turned over by the a little land, while in the city the plough. The only green spots were poor have to rent their houses, and those in which a hardy clover is make their living by some trade or grown for the cattle, or some marshy profession. In the country the land ground on which reeds thrive, but has become so divided and sub- even these were sickly and bare, divided in the lapse of several gen- compared with the usual fertility of erations that many have barely better years, enough to yield in the best seasons Thus, then, the scanty and inadeenough for their support. The corn quate crop of last autumn, and the
total failure of the summer crop, have brought absolute destitution to thousands of poor families who are dependent on the soil. They have eaten up all their store, and have several months before them yet, (even if the rain should come so as to prepare the ground for the seed of the autumn crop)-several months of starvation. It was most painful to see, as I saw every day, hundreds of men, women, and children out in the fields or lanes with their knives and baskets, gathering the clover, bits of grass or edible roots, plucking the tender sprouts from the willow and elm trees, that they might boil them as greens for their daily food. Those of them who could get a little meal of millet or barley, would mix with it seven or eight parts of bran and husks of the seeds and make cakes of the same. to appease the pangs of hunger : just enough of meal to make the cake hold together. The faces of young men bore the marks of semi-starvation, and they all looked hungry and wretched.
Of course such a state of things had not been anticipated by the Government, and it is only now that supplies of grain are being brought from the South to alleviate this widespread distress-now, when the poorest of the people have been famishing for two months, and the rain has come to cheer them with the prospect of an autumnal harvest.
Bands of people in fifties and hundreds left their homes while I was in the district to beg food from their better-off neighbours. In some cases I heard of a number of men going in a band to rich farmers asking for the loan of so many sacks of grain until they could repay it out of their own crops. Some acceded to their requests, others refused ; on being refused, they forced their way into granaries and helped themselves. This was becoming rather common when I left the country, and thoughtful men were saying, “if the rain does not fall soon this country will be in a state of anarchy." Such apprehension, and the general uneasiness felt respecting bands of lawless banditti, are not without good foundation in a country where there are always so many disaffected and unprincipled villains ready to lead in any game of plunder or rebellion, and where there are so many thousands of able-bodied, half-starved men in a state of forced idleness.
It would be wrong not to speak of the generous efforts made by some of the better-to-do to relieve the distress of their suffering neighbours. Some lend or give sacks of corn, some provide a certain number of poor with a good meal of common food every day, farmers give up their fields of growing clover to the free use of those who cared to gather it. When I was at Yang-Shin, I found that out of our small church of twenty-five members, about eight families were in a state of destitution, and, after consulting with the native preacher about the best means of relieving them, it was decided that the purchase of a little corn would be the most suitable, and I am glad to say that all the other members, none of them rich, cheerfully contributed towards the relief of their poorer brethern. We managed, among us, to get as much corn as would keep each family about three days, or what would be sufficient for a single individual ten days. So in every other station in the district we managed to render a little help to the poorest. While these efforts to relieve the distressed were always gratefully received, to us they seemed almost ridiculously inadequate. For a famine so wide-spread, and a destitution so dire, how meagre and insufficient were such pittances from the charitable! Still, I never saw a more genuine appreciation and gratitude than was shown by these poor people for the small contributions of help from those who sympathized with their distress. It will be interesting to some to describe somewhat minutely the almost frantic excesses to which the people have carried their superstitions inyocations and appeals to their gods for rain during this trying season. I saw much of this folly in the villages, but in the great cities greater excesses were witnessed. One missionary writes from a large city in Shantung :"The people met in thousands villages united with villages, and processions of tens of thousands occurred every few days at one or other of the temples. Officials went at midnight and put chains upon themselves in token of humiliation for sin. One god having failed them, they had recourse to another, and then another, till their list of powerful ones was over. Then they commenced a second time, and a third time over the same list.”
It would be easy to fill pages with particulars of the heartrending sufferings and distressing scenes witnessed and heard of during this journey, but these matters come not within the scope of your Chronicle, so I refrain. Suffice it to say, that the Lord has mercifully sent fruitful and refreshing rains upon the thirsty land, and the Government is supplying the starving people with rice from the Southern Provinces, which we hope may be adequate to the wants of all. YANG SHIN-THE NEW MISSION.
The first place I visited, in which we have any missionary interest, was Yang-Shin, the new station, opened last year under such encouraging circumstances. You are aware that at the suggestion of the members, we had undertaken the important step of renting suitable premises in the City for our missionary operations. The church had been formed where the work started in a small village about three miles from the city, and the meetings had been conducted in a small room, lent to us by one of our members. It was in every way inconvenient and inadequate, but no other place could be obtained that was suitable. The members all expressed their willingness to attend the services in the city, while it offered the great advantages of being central for those who lived in other villages, with facilities for daily preaching, and thus affording wider scope for our labours. One of our members secured for us a very suitable house in the very centre of the city with a good frontage on the main street for a preaching room, a good vestry behind for meetings, and a house or rooms, for the native preacher, together with a large shed and good yard ; all for a very low rent. This place had been taken and used before either of your missionaries had been at the place, and when I went there I was quite satisfied and pleased with the house and felt that it was in every way just the thing It was here that our people met with the persecution of which we complained and where our preachers were insulted and beaten. I am glad to say that I found this case had been settled before I arrived through the prompt action taken by our Consul, Mr. Mongan. My first duty, however, on reaching the city, was to go and pay my respects to the city magistrate who had been con
strained by the higher powers to quell the riot and issue a proclamation to enlighten his people on the question of our right to propagate Christianity, and that those who received our teachings were in no case to be interfered with. This official received me very courteously, entered into a long explanation of his conduct about not receiving the complaints presented by our native helper when the disturbances were going on, and pretended that had he known that the sect was the Christian sect he should at once have protected them from all annoyance. I thanked him for his proclamation, and what he had done, though late, by putting one of the leaders in the disturbance under restraint and told him that now we should have no fear for the future as his proclamation pledged him to protect our people and that he would be held responsible if any further trouble occurred. I am afraid the poor man seemed more agreeable than he felt, for he told me that his successor to the post he held was appointed, and would relieve him in fifteen days from the time I saw him. It is very probable that his removal from this post is owing to the negligence of duty of which we complained to our Consul,
The gathering of members and inquirers on Sunday morning was cheering. More than thirty persons were present and the service was delightful. Before the service proper, I spent two hours in examining the candidates for baptism, and ten of these were most satisfactory cases. Others were left on trial while these were admitted to our fellowship. What pleased me greatly was the earnestness, order, and prayerfulness of these people. Our native preacher has shown great diligence in privately instructing them in Christian doctrine, in church order, and leading them to exercise in prayer and singing. Though the youngest society we have, I do not hesitate to say that in the elements of Christian character, the observance of the proprieties of Divine Worship, the spirit and compass of their prayers, they are equal to our oldest societies ; while in voluntary efforts for spreading the gospel, and contributions to the church, they certainly take the lead. One old man spends most of his time in going with the preacher to all out-door services, and is quite an evangelist in his way. Others do
occasional duty in their own neigh. bourhoods, and all are in hearty sympathy with the work. united in soul and co-operating for the estab. lishment of the cause of God in the district.
I found also that all the furniture of the chapel and preachers rooms had been supplied out of the contributions of the members, while some of the poorest had given their labour to clear and repair and alter the place, thus relieving the mission of a considerable item of expense. As for instance, we bought the paper and they put it on, the lime, and they did the plastering and whitewashing. They feel the place is their own, and take an interest in it accordingly. Men with such a spirit are sure to prosper and I am san. guine that in this place we shall soon have a most flourishing church, I had proposed to them the desirability of special meetings to pray for rain, as the country was suffering so deeply from the drought. One man in his simplicity, betrayed the heathen idea and practice in connection with such an occasion, and suggested that “we should wait until we saw the clouds gather & little, then announce that we were going to pray for rain to the true God, and invite the people to come and join us ; then said he when the rain comes all the people will be impressed that our God has heard our prayers and they will thus be led to discard the idols and worship the Christian's God." I give the man's opinion even at the risk of its exciting the disgust of some Christians at home, who may not consider the weakness of a man who has all his life been brought up under the delusive influence of idolatry, and only been under Christian teaching for å few months. I was pleased with the man's candour, and with a recommendation which, while it pained me, gave me such a good text to preach from. I am sure the sermon I preached from his words changed his views considerably and enlightened many others too. He and all came early on Monday morning to pray for the rain, though not a cloud, was to be seen, and on Tuesday morning too, though I left the place at six o'clock to visit another station, they were nearly all present to pray again, some of them having walked four or five miles ; on the Wednesday they gathered
again, and thus carried out my suggestion of three days special prayer for rain. Nor do I think they ceased to pray until the Lord sent showers upon the thirsty land, which I am thankful to say He has done.
I left Yang-Shin on Tuesday morning with a heart gladdened at what I had seen of the grace of God and with a cheerful anticipation of seeing greater things in that city, I spent three happy days there. I ought to say that Monday was market-day, and the streets crowded with people. About noon the chapel was thrown open, that is, the front was taken down, and our congregation not only filled the inside but the outside too. Messrs. Hu and Tso were there as well as the native helper in charge, and knowing the crowd was so great I remained in the vestry out of sight until two of them had preached, as I knew the crushing and restlessness of the crowd at seeing a foreigner would interfere with their attention. I heard the sermons, and real good convincing sermons they were ; full of gospel truth, well put and well delivered. When the third man got up I came out into the chapel, and the preacher had a hard time of it. I asked him to stop and I tried, but the confusion in that surging mass was uncontrollable. I stood on the table that the people far out into the street might see me; I tried in vain to get order, and saw that no attention could be secured to what I had to day. For a minute or two they were quiet, then there was a crush in some part of the crowd and a dispute; a hawker's stall was upset, and he began to rail at those who were nearest to him as the offenders; nearer at hand were audible and attractive conversations started about my personal appearance, age, and clothing, and an old fogie would appeal to me while I was talking as to whether my honourable age was not 75? or some such irrelevant topic; so that I considered it best to stop the service and close the doors. I then went on the street with a few books, and drew the crowd after me to the Temple of the City God. There was a wide open court, and I stood on the steps of the temple, got the people into order and talked to them a considerable time on the great subjects of the gospel. This arrangement seemed to please them very much, as so many could see and hear me without crushing, or interfering with market stalls. We soon disposed of our small stock of books, and returned to our chapel escorted by a smaller crowd of noisy children.
This day's work would make a good impression on the people and enlighten them as to our object in coming to their city, and I trust that “the bread cast upon the waters will be seen after many days.
CHU CHIA Ts. I. CHU CHIA TSAI was the next place on my programme, which is a good day's journey from Yang-Shin. We left early in the morning, and reached our destination just before dark, and in time for the usual prayer meeting on Tuesday evening. Owing to the drought, many of the people were absent from home, and our meetings during my stay were not so well attended as on former occasions. There is another and deeper cause, however, for this decline, which is religious indifference. Although the place is our centre in this region, and has on that account more advantages than any other, yet it is patent that for some time there has been a great falling off in the attendance of the members at the means of grace, less self-reliance, and less effort for promoting the cause of God in the village and neighbourhood. The people have a morbid feeling that everything should be done by the missionaries. We have tried and are still trying to correct this failing, and induce a more healthy state, but the effort is sure to cost us a diminution of numbers.
The chief incident of interest in this place has been already set before you in the account of the death of one of our students, and the admission of his mother and brother to our church fellowship. I was pleased to notice the great improvement in the preparatory school. It is this year under the able management of Mr. Chu, who has been for some years employed by us as a native assistant, and was the schoolmaster of the village when our cause was first introduced there. He is a man of considerable scholarly ability, a thorough Christian, and well qualified in every way as a teacher. He has the young men thoroughly under discipline, and they respect him. They are very diligent in their studies, and have made most marked and rapid improvement during the year.
Amongst the youths in the school are several who give great promise of ability and usefulness.
Wu-KWAN-T'UN. AT Wu-Kwan-Tun we had a warm reception, and rejoiced to find the church in a healthy and prosperous state. All the members and inquirers gathered at the service on Sunday morning. There were five or six candidates examined, but only three of them baptized. These were men, two of whom have considerable literary ability. I was quite satisfied from the examination of them that they know and love the Saviour, and I pray that they may become lights in that dark place.
SAN-LIEU-CHIA. In San-Lieu-Chia, which has been stationary for several years, there seems to be a little move at last, as two candidates were present who have been the usual time on probation. One of them was received by baptism and the other left on trial. Three children of members were also brought by their parents for baptism. This interesting service seemed greatly to cheer the hearts of our people, and I trust it is but an earnest of a great harvest of souls. One of our old members has a small school here for the children of native Christians, and we have another in Wu-KwanTun. Both teachers are good men, and render great help to our native assistants and the churches with which they are connected.
The chief interest in our most northerly stations is now at the villages of Tsang-Shang and Sz-ChiaKao, which have offshoots from HanChia and Yang-Pan. At Tsang-Shang through our indefatigable friend Su Chi, a number of inquirers have been meeting regularly for several months in a little old shed connected with his house. We have several old members in this village, and three or four of the junior students from this little society are in our school at Chu-Chia. They have long felt the inadequacy and discomfort of their meeting-place, but were too poor to provide a better. This spring they represented to us that if we would buy the wood and straw needful for a little chapel, they would give the labour and build it. Feeling the growing interest of the place, we decided to afford them the help they sought, and I had the pleasure of conducting service in a neat mud structure, which serves for a chapel