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Esther & Family in Amoy(P.1)
and Abridged from "This Is The Way, Walk Ye In It
Isaiah 30:21," by Joseph R. Esther M.Th.
964 Salem Drive, Redlands, Ca. 92373
Copyright 1977 by Joseph R. Esther & Marion B. Esther 964
Note: Jack and Joann Hill
provided photos of Joe, and this self-published book. Please contact me
if you hold the copyright (or can provide more information and photos!).
Used copies of the book are available online.
(from son's letter)
1. Childhood Home
Turning Point in My Life
3. My Years of
Education 4. My
Marriage and My First Church
5. The Call to
China 30 6. On
the Way to China
7. Our Arrival
in Tong-An 8. Fukien
9. Beginning of
10. In An Khoe Mountains
The Last Amoy Mission Meeting
to the Philippines
For chapters 15-25,
please buy used copy of book online, or e-mail me
This book is dedicated to our [Esthers'] four children, James,
Joan, Mary, and Barbara who often stayed alone in the house while we were
out doing our work or did their homework quietly while we held meetings
in our home. They are our most real evidence of our Mission for the Lord.
I acknowledge with deep appreciation the help of my daughters, Joan Esther
Smith and Mary Esther Baxter, in typing the manuscript, to both of them
for editorial suggestions, to my daughter, Barbara Esther, for the map.
To my son, Rev. James R. Esther, go my thanks for the letter which inspired
my writing of this book. Most of all, I acknowledge my debt to my wife,
Molly, who took my book by dictation and made editorial suggestions.
Finally, I acknowledge my deep debt of gratitude to one of my Chinese
colleagues, Rev. Moses Keng, who translated my book into Chinese.
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from my son's letter)
Your ministry has been an inspiration to me. You taught me about Christ.
You taught me how to serve Him. And I'm only one of who-knows-how-many
you've reached with the greatest and best news of all time! I think it
must be wonderful to look back on so many years of work and realize that,
because God was and is and always will be there, what you did will go
on and increase! Who else but a Christian can say that? For anyone else
retirement comes, the work is over. But for a Christian, it never ends.
Of course your leaving the Philippines will be sad. I can imagine how
hard it is leaving after 25 years of service there. But you have the privilege
of seeing your work go on and on.
Yesterday a young Chinese man was in our congregation. After the service
I met him and learned that he had escaped Red China 19 months ago. I told
him that I had lived there too in Tong-An. He
replied, "That village is my home! My Grandfather was the pastor
of the church there." He is a student now at the University of Rochester
and he is a Christian.
We only have a partial picture of the whole ministry of Christ now ¡ª we
can only sec a little bit of it ¡ª what has happened in our lifetime, and
we don't always see that very clearly! But someday we'll see the whole
picture, all that God has done, through others and through us."
Pastor at Second Reformed Church
New Brunswick, New Jersey
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Chapter 1 My Childhood Home
My Father was born in Sneek, Friesland, the Netherlands. When he was a
young teenager, his family moved to the United States. On the journey
his father, my grandfather, died and my grandmother arrived with a big
family in a strange country. Things were difficult, but soon she married
a widower who also had a family to bring up. When the family was suddenly
twice as big, my father left with a few of his younger brothers to make
his way by himself. When my father met my mother and married her he still
had these young siblings as his responsibility.
Life in the Netherlands had been very difficult. My father had been happy
to leave that hard life behind even in his thoughts. At least he never
talked about it.
My mother's family were also Fresian. Her family had been in America for
several generations and knew the American ways. My grandparents were precious
people to us. Our first home was close to my grandmother's house.
On March 6, 1911, in a room on the second story of a little house, I was
born. The house stood 200 yards from the Grand River, the river that goes
through central Michigan and flows into Lake Michigan. The house was humble
but it was a home large enough for love and helpfulness. It had to be,
for besides myself and my older brother and sister, my parents were bringing
up two of my father's younger brothers.
When the family increased in number we moved to a larger home in Lamont
which was still near the Grand River. This river meant a great deal to
me. We fished in it, we swam in it, we rowed up and down it when we got
the use of a boat; and we loved its beauty.
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One of my earliest memories of Grand River was the day my older brother
coaxed me to climb to the highest rail of the bridge which spans the river.
Then he threw stones at me to force me to jump into the river. I didn't
dare jump from that height; I didn't dare stand still; I didn't even dare
climb down. Just then, my parents suddenly came along, looking for us.
They got me down and wiped the tears away from my eyes. Then Dad took
hold of my brother and in one lesson from my father's hand he learned
that this was not the way to teach anyone to dive.
My Dad worked at the Wolverine Brass Company in the big city of Grand
Rapids. It was a place of sweat and toil, noise and long hours. After
six days of work he looked forward to the long walk to our home beside
the beautiful river.
One Saturday night it was already nine o'clock and darkness had fallen;
yet Dad had not come home. Snow lay over the ground and heavy clouds blotted
out even the light of the stars. Mother called us to her and we prayed
that Dad would find our house in the tangled woods with God's help. Then
she placed our big lamp near the window and sent us off to bed. We lay
on our beds waiting and listening and heard her cry softly until sleep
finally overcame us. Though we slept, Mother stayed right there to be
sure the lamp did not blow out.
When finally Dad got home in the early hours of morning, chilled and frost-bitten,
we woke to hear his story of how he had lost his way but had seen a light
in the distance and had followed it. He kept that light in view no matter
what he walked over, barbed wire fences, ditches or stumps. He knew he
had to keep his eyes on the light for this was the only way to find a
warm shelter and be saved from freezing to death. Mother's lamp in the
window had brought him safely home.
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This made a deep impression upon me. It still makes me think of how we
must keep our eyes on the Light of life, our Lord and Savior, if we arc
to be saved.
Later, Dad decided to try to find a farm and stop working in the city.
The noisy foundry was making him go deaf. He found a farm in a beautiful
place two miles down the river near Eastmanville. Eastmanville was named
after a prominent man who had built a beautiful home along the river.
After Mr. Eastman's death his son-in-law lived in that palatial home on
the river. I began to work there on Saturdays after I started school,
mowing the lawns, planting flowers, making rock gardens. I learned a lot
under Mrs. Hefferon's direction and always loved that beautiful estate.
It was in Eastmanville that I learned to like school, because one day
my teacher, a kindly, white-haired woman, won my heart by giving me an
orange. I suppose she noticed that I was poorly dressed and maybe, sometimes
I stood longingly watching her eat.
Often a gesture of generosity like hers wins a person's whole hearted
devotion. It is such a simple gift as "the cup of cold water"
that God blesses.
After this I looked for the first flowers of spring in our woods to bring
to my teacher. I found the bitter sweet or last asters in the fall for
one I loved and admired. I learned a great deal, too, because I listened
to everything my teacher said.
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Our home at Eastmanville was large and roomy, but it had to be to house
our big family with eight growing children. It was simply furnished with
the necessities, chairs, a table, and a stove. The one thing of beauty
we had was our big lamp with a beautiful painted shade. Indeed our family
needed every cent we could earn to fill our stomachs. Our clothes were
often worn hand-me-downs. I wore my brother's clothes after he had outgrown
them and they were well patched and baggy at the knees.
Perhaps Dad didn't recognize the soil was hard clay when he bought those
forty acres. We had to work so hard to earn anything from it that he soon
added another forty acres and put in more potatoes. We all worked hard
on the farm. My brother worked with the horses which I was considered
too young to handle. So, filled with envy, I took the big hoe, placed
it in my hands and had a tough job handling the heavy, yellow clay. However,
I worked beside my Dad and while I worked I talked to him. I learned many
things from Dad, but very little about farming for he came from a Fresian
Dairy Farm and had no experience with soil and planting.
There is something good in everything if we know how to find it. I learned
on that farm to work hard. I learned how to eat simple food, potatoes
and more potatoes with milk gravy and occasionally a piece of bacon or
smoked fish, bought at the store. However, we enjoyed the apples from
our own orchard. We had two woods on our land so we had plenty of hickory
nuts and walnuts.
I learned to love every nook and cranny of our farm. I gathered wild flowers
in the spring and nuts in the fall; I dove into the river and swam up
and down stream in the summer; I skated on the ice-covered bayou nearby
in the winter.
At dusk when the day's work was done we would rush to the river and swim
so long that it was hard to awaken us the next morning and we were lethargic
in the fields.
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We would dive off of the bridge at a greater height each week. However,
one day I took a real "belly flop", landing on the water, flat
on my stomach. That hurt me so much I began to specialize in low-diving
until I had mastered the art of diving. We used to race each other, swimming
down the river for about two miles. We always had someone watching us
from a boat as we raced.
I learned another lesson in my youth. As I worked hard to do a task well,
I became stronger. This was a lesson that my father didn't miss. He constantly
piled heavier loads on me. In the winter when we had studying to do Dad
gave us indoor work, sorting beans or mending a harness. In the fall I
helped my father build silos or barns for neighbors.
Our house lay midway between our corner grocery store and the County Poor
Farm. This establishment was a well-kept place that I often heard might
some day be our home if I didn't work hard and our potatoes did not do
well. I used to wander over to the Poor Farm. I got acquainted with the
old people and learned that the old people enjoyed children and sought
the kindly attention of others, in their loneliness. We often went on
a Sunday afternoon to sing for the lonely old people. When it came time
to choose a number, one old man always called for "The Little Brown
Jug in the Wildwood". I discovered that the old people enjoyed our
singing as much as we enjoyed the visit.
When winter set in our problems increased. We, sometimes, were unable
to buy new shoes or even repair the old shoes so we put cardboard in our
shoes to keep the snow out. We had no boots. Our coats were often thread-worn,
but Mother made each of us a pair of ear-muffs from an old pair of pants
beyond mending. Somehow, we kept warm through the hitter Michigan winters.
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At Christmas, there came one of the joyous times of the year because our
Uncles and Aunts and Grandma and Grandpa came to the farm driving an old
Ford. The old car broke down so often that a piece of bailing wire, pliers,
a wrench, extra spark plugs and worn thin spare tires were always kept
handy. How we rejoiced to sec that old car arrive. They brought with them
good things to eat and we feasted on Christmas Eve. Usually the car revealed
some old, worn coats and clothes that my Mother and sisters would work
on, winter evenings, to fit someone in the family.
Most exciting of alt was to hang a stocking and go to bed early that night
dreaming of finding something delicious in it while we fell asleep hearing
the old folks talk. In the morning we were up early and noticed our socks
full of apples that looked strangely like those on our farm, a big beautiful
store-bought orange and some delicious candy. Christmas was a day of joy;
a day of worship and feasting and sliding down the hill on our sleds.
We were given a good religious life in our home. Three times a day Dad
would come in, hang his hat up, wash, and sit down at the table on which
the potatoes steamed and the fresh baked bread sent out its fragrance.
The family waited for Dad to read a chapter from the huge old Bible and
pray. We were famished so at the "A-men" we would dig in. I'll
never forget how tired Dad was from working in the fields. As soon as
he had eaten, his head would nod and he would be fast asleep.
Dad was a different Christian. He did not talk very much about religious
matters. He read the Bible for all to hear, prayed and required us children
to go to church and Sunday School; but he never went. He had had trouble
with an elder in the church and would not sit in the same room with a
man who had cheated him. Dad was sure that a thief was running things
in the church. It was not until I had become a minister and we had gone
to China as missionaries that Dad regretted his stubborn stand and decided
to make a fresh witness of his faith in God by being baptized and entering
the church at seventy years of age.
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My Mother always went with us to church and this was a precious part of
her life. She prayed often and depended upon the fellowship she had with
her Saviour for her joy and peace of mind. Mother was always a hard worker
and tender hearted and kind to everyone who came into our home.
We sometimes wondered at the difference between my parents. Then, one
day I rode with my Dad on the wagon to take a load of potatoes to the
Grand Rapids City Market. Dad loved his horses and to lighten their heavy
load he walked all the way. I walked part of the way too in that thirty-two
mile trip. As we made the leisurely trip Dad began to talk about the neighbors
and life in the old country. This was one of the few times he talked about
his hard life as a boy. Dad was Fresian as were most of our neighbors.
Fresia is the northern most province of Holland. Life was very hard there
and perhaps for that very reason the people from Fresia were noted for
Dad told me this story to illustrate how stubborn the Fresian people were.
"When Napoleon conquered Friesland he shot some of the Friesian people
but they were so 'stif-kopf (stubborn) that Napoleon's soldiers had to
push them over after they were dead."
I understood my father better after the walk. He had experienced such
a bitter, hard life that when he left as a lad he never wanted lo think
about his unhappy boyhood. He would not speak Fresian. He always said,
"We are Americans now; we will speak as Americans do." There
is something good and strong about determination unless it is wrongly
used. When Dad made up his mind to do something he would see a thing through
no matter what it cost in effort or suffering.
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Chapter 2 The Turning Point in My Life
Four of us boys of whom I was the youngest, 10 years old, liked each other
and were always together when we were through with our work. We had two
worn out horses that we claimed as ours. My horse, which I used to care
for the sheep and fetch the cows home, had a spavin on each foot. These
sore joints made it painful for the horses to run. The other horse belonged
to another boy. It was a huge horse, perhaps even older than mine. Boys
like to think their own is best, so we agreed to race. We lined up and
had the two other boys at the finish line to sec which horse would win.
Would my old Timmy or Kd's horse arrive first? We each had sharp whips.
At first neither horse would move, then Timmy started to walk on his four
spavins and he walked to the finish line. Ed's horse must have been Fresian
for he never did move. This was my first and only horse race, a clear
Not much time lapsed after this horse race, when we four boys had another
experience. Ed's and Alfs father was a carpenter and made locks without
iron. In the basement of the store, Ed's father had made such a lock.
We boys went to look at it. Alt' said "If you cut that timber you
can get in the store." We discussed the subject and Alf promised
to saw the right bar on the night agreed upon.
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Finally, it dawned on me what they were planning to do, not just open
a lock but enter a store to take something. So, I said timorously, "That
would be stealing and what if we are caught?" Alf merely answered,
"You watch the lonely road and I'll do the work." We did this
in fear and trembling. He succeeded and we all went quietly into the basement
and up the stairs to the store.
We reached the candy cases and filled our pockets. Then we went to the
bridge and hid all the candies in various places. One had watched while
we hid the candy and he reported that no one had come around. So, we went
home. That night as Mother read to us, as she did every night before we
went lo sleep, she suddenly said, "You two boys are lying with eyes
open." We quickly closed them and nothing more was suspected, but
I slept very poorly.
We four hoys had agreed to divide evenly. I feared being cheated so I
was the first one there. Soon another little thief joined me and we filled
our pockets and went on to school.
At school I forgot all about concealing our misdeed in the joy I had giving
the kids a bar of candy each, feeling like a king. However, in the schoolhouse
were two eyes watching this erstwhile ragamuffin become popular by these
generous gifts. The teacher flew across the road and called the sheriffs
office which was fourteen miles away.
We went into school when the bell rang and sat at our desks. It was a
one room school with 35 students in the eight grades. I suspected nothing.
An hour later there was a knock on the door. One or two were called out
and came back in again. My name was called. I went out and was grabbed
by a huge policeman, the deputy sheriff.
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He started out saying, "Open all your pockets and show me what is
in them." 1 said, "I ain't got any candy." This was what
he wanted to hear for why should I say "candy" unless I was
one of the boys who stole it. I opened up my pockets and shelled out quite
a few five cent bars. He told the teacher he would take me to the jail
and then said to me, "Now, pick up your coat. It's cold in jail."
I did and he put me in the car and shut the door. We went right to my
house. As we went only thirty miles an hour, I tried to jump out of the
car for he said, "We'll see your father, first." No police and
no jail would scare me more than to meet my father now. I knew how he
felt about stealing. But the policeman held me fast. In a few minutes
we were at my house.
Dad was in the field and I was told to go fetch him and tell him that
a policeman was waiting to talk with him. I flew toward the field and
them, out of sight, I cut into the woods going on until I reached the
far edge of the woods where I flung myself on my knees and cried bitter
I was a boy who had heard the precious Bible stories every week in Sunday
School and every night from my mother's lips. When my mother prayed that
I would be a good boy, I knew what she meant. I listened to my father
read the Bible three times a day and I really comprehended what he read.
I was a boy who knew God's word and believed its message. Now, I said
as I hid my tear-covered face, "Oh, God, I have stolen candy and
run away from the policeman. Will I go to Hell? Please forgive me for
I am a real sinner." At that moment I distinctly heard Jesus say
to me, as if He were right beside me, "I have forgiven you, you are
mine, Follow me."
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I can truly say that I was converted that day. It made a new boy out of
me. I got up and ran to find my dad. Dad agreed that I could earn the
money and pay back the store for the candy. Dad was always a man of fiery
temper but he didn't whip me that day. I think he could see my sincerity.
He told me how many bottles of milk I had to carry to Mr. Liefer¡¯s house.
I carried milk for several months until I had paid back my share to the
store. As far as I know I was the only one of the four boys that paid
the store back for what we had stolen.
I went back to Sunday School afraid that I would hear jeering but I heard
none. My Sunday School teacher was most kind to me, so I studied each
lesson very hard. I dreaded going back to school, but I guess they soon
saw that I was a changed boy. I wouldn't even pick up a hickory nut that
fell from a neighbor's tree. Whenever I was asked to tell the truth, I
obeyed. I had learned a very deep lesson about honesty.
The impact of that lesson went very deep. 1 found that the old hymn I
knew so well, "What a Friend we have in Jesus" had a new meaning
for me. I knew Jesus as my own best friend. He had forgiven me. I would
love Him always and try my best to do whatever He told me to do. I must
have prayed a dozen times a day and each time I asked Him that I might
obey Him perfectly.
It was years later that I heard His command to go into full time service.
But, during my boyhood days God told me to "Obey" and "Be
strong" and "Learn to follow".
I learned to strengthen my legs. My brother and I made two trips to school
each day for we went home for lunch. He was older and stronger yet he
never made allowance for his younger brother. He just ran as fast as he
could. I became determined to keep up with him. I got stronger as time
went on and there came the day when he had to chase me. I had good running
legs. God was giving me legs that would take me five miles to win the
Michigan (MIAA) Collegiate championship. I didn't know that God was preparing
me for all day walks in the An-Koe mountains of south China. For a week
at a time I'd walk all day to tell people of the love of Almighty God
who sent His precious Son to the earth to die on a cross for me and them
too, if they would only accept Him.
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I joined the choir and sat next to the pastor who had a fine tenor voice.
The songs were not just words or music, God was speaking to me. I memorized
the words and day after day would walk to school singing the song until
it sank deep into my heart. The words to one of the songs went:
not be on the mountain height Or over the stormy sea. It may not be at
the battle's front The Lord will have need of me. But if by a still small
voice He calls to paths I do not know I'll answer 'Dear Lord, with my
hand in Thine I'll go where you want me to go. I'll go where you want
me to go, dear Lord O'er mountain, or plains, or sea, I'll say what you
want me to say, dear Lord I'll be what you want me to be."
I never dreamed that some day I would lead young Chinese students in a
Youth Conference in the Philippines to sing the chorus which is very similar
to this hymn of obedience.
kiogoa kong simmih, goa chiu kong la-so kto goa tioh an cheng, goa chiu
cheng la-so kio goa khi ta-loh, goa chiu khi la-so kio goa choe sim-mih,
goa chiu choe."
"What ever Jesus calls me to say, I will say Whenever Jesus calls
me to be silent, I will be silent
Where-ever Jesus calls me to go, I will go What ever Jesus calls me to
do, I will do."
I know that God was talking to me through the songs of my childhood, and
through the experience of my boyhood days.
Chapter 3 My Years of Education
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My high school years were a marvelous experience. I was always ready to
walk ten miles a day for the thrills of the classes, the library, the
athletics. It was all so different from the one room school where I had
been studying. I have often thought that in the hands of a good teacher
a one room school was a pretty good preparation for high school. I learned
many things from listening to the discussions of students in the grades
ahead of me. It was a broadening experience for a boy from the farm.
I was interested in everything in high school. I joined everything except
the girl's glee club. I played football and basketball but track was my
first love. I won many races in our high school track meets. I entered
speaking contests and debated for the debate team, which was very important
Our superintendent was the coach of the debate team. He helped me to develop
good, logical thinking. We were coached by him for three consecutive years
and as we debated the other high school teams in Michigan, we developed
skill and won most of our debates.
It was nearing graduation when this man, who had worked so many years
with me and the other boys on the Debate Team, suddenly turned to me and
asked, "Joe, what are you going to do with yourself after high school?"
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I had not thought much about it, I was enjoying my high school years too
much to think of the future. I had an older sister who was a teacher;
so sometimes I thought of becoming a teacher some day, or a lawyer, or
perhaps even a United States Senator.
While I was thinking, my friend went on to say, "My brother-in-law
thinks you have the making of a pastor in you. He's heard you debate many
times." This remark sounded in my ears like a peal of thunder. The
ministry had never entered my boyhood dreams.
But I discovered that what this man had said was God speaking, for the
thought of the ministry would not leave my mind. I made up my mind in
a few days when I realized that God had used my beloved high school superintendent
to show me what He wanted me to do. I have never doubled the decision
made that day or that it was God who called me into the ministry. God
had been calling me and preparing me since the day when He said "You
are mine, Follow me."
I did not know, then, that He would send me, one day, over the Pacific
to a country, ravaged by a long war with Japan, robbed by bandits, holding
communists in hiding who would one day take it over. However, the one
thing I was certain of was the fact that God was guiding me. He was leading
me all the way.
"All the way my Saviour leads me; What have I to ask besides? Can
I doubt His tender mercy Who through life has been my guide? Heavenly
peace, divinest comfort Here by faith in Him to dwell For I know what-e'er
befall me Jesus doeth all things well."
My athletic activities meant a great deal to me. I had my best success
in track. I won many races in the regional meets all four of my high school
years. I ran in the half mile and the mile races. This was also a wonderful
preparation for the walking God planned to have me do in China over the
rugged mountains of Ankhoe and later in the Philippines.
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I wondered sometimes at my audacity to think of a College education and
seminary beyond that. Only my oldest sister had gone beyond high school
and that was for one year of normal training. Yet when God called me I
sold the old car I had been using my senior year in high school and worked
the entire summer for the rich man who had the beautiful garden where
I had spent my Saturdays each week. However, at the end of the summer
I had only $110.00 saved up for college. I needed new clothes as well
as money for tuition.
This is when God reminded me of the thirty-six sheep my Dad had made me
responsible for in my high school years. I knew each one of the sheep
by name and I loved every one of them. I had learned how much the sheep
depended upon a shepherd. I had to lead them out to pasture and train
the dog to keep watch over them while I was in school. I had to find their
wounds and attend to them, I filled the water troughs for them. I knew
from experience with my sheep what it meant to have God say He would care
for His people like a shepherd cares for his sheep. I clung to the comforting
thought "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
I went down to the college and paid $110.00 for tuition and I was enrolled.
I had a job in a hotel if I would be a bell boy and carry dirty dishes.
It was hard work and took long hours. One time, I had the misfortune of
dropping some dishes and the manager saw it. I was later to suffer the
consequences for this mistake.
I was promised room and board for my work while I was being trained. This
I was given. However, my room was above the kitchen and I couldn't sleep
because it was boiling hot.
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College classes were soon to open, so I went to talk to the manager. He
began "These six weeks you have been a liability. Now when school
starts it will be six hours a day, seven days a week." When I asked
how much pay I would receive, his answer was "No money, your board
I walked out, for 1 knew I could neither study nor sleep in the kind of
room that he gave me. I had wasted six weeks. I could have given up at
that point, but before night God had led me to a good job. I worked in
a doctor's house, sweeping floors, washing dishes and helping the doctor
during office hours. I remember one day when he told me to get some green
pills from the second shelf of the medicine cabinet. Being slightly color
blind, I got red pills instead. For once he lost his temper. I had carried
up poisonous pills. I admitted I was color blind and he gave me the name
of the medicine thereafter.
The doctor was always kind and thoughtful, but his wife was a cantankerous
woman whom I could never please. The doctor let me hitchhike home once
in a while. Every day he gave me time to practice my running and helped
me that first year to win first place in the State in Track.
The doctor served a balanced diet and taught me how to eat selectively.
He taught me many other lessons during the one year I worked for him.
I have never forgotten this kind man.
During my second year of college I worked at the Hitching Post which catered
mostly to the needs of the truck drivers and bus drivers who stopped for
rest and food. There was a lot of rough talk and many late hours. The
time they were busy with customers was 12 midnight to 3:00 A.M. The boss
was a mean man who had no pity or understanding of a student's need for
sleep or study time. He kept rotating our time of duty. One time I would
work from 12: A.M. to 3:00 A.M., the next time I would work from 3:00
A.M. to 6:00 A.M. This gave me no definite pattern for sleep.
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I worked at the Hitching Post for one year and passed all of my subjects.
That year I also succeeded in winning the State Championship MIAA in cross
country and the 2 mile run. With these victories I became a member of
the college track team and I quit my job.
These years were the Depression years of the 1930's when 11,000,000 men
were out of work, including my own father. I could not look for any help
from my home. There were other college students just as much in need of
help as I was. So, with the help of the President of the college, I organized
a student's Boarding Club. This enabled sixty other fellows besides myself
to stay in college. We all ate at the club. Our menu was small. We served
a lot of potatoes and spaghetti. The students sometimes grumbled
about the food and the fare.
I decided to do something about the dissatisfaction. I called a meeting
and said I could give them better food if they paid a little more each
week. Things were so rough at that time; after some discussion, we voted
down the proposal to pay five cents more per week. I continued to manage
this boarding club for the remaining two years of college and my first
year of seminary.
During my junior and senior years of college I won many medals in track,
most of them gold ones. I left a record of my cross country and two mile
run for some years in the college. I always worked hard and played hard.
I was known at college as an "Iron man", because I seemed never
to tire even under very hard circumstances. For instance, in running for
the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, I took my pan among
the stalwarts and usually won four long races, the half mile, the mile,
the two mile, and the cross country race of five miles.
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Once there were seventy-five men from three states in the lineup. Tom
Ottey, 9th in the Olympics the following year, was at my side at the start,
and Bill Zepp, America's best in the ten mile race, was breathing down
my neck. We seventy-five dashed off together but at the end of the race
Ottey and Zepp were far ahead. Still, I was proud of the silver medal
which I received for coming in 13th out of the seventy-five.
The endurance I learned through racing helped me in later years to give
my best effort in the Philippines as a missionary evangelist and chaplain
of a school. The weekends, I spent Traveling north and south doing evangelistic
work in the provincial areas of Luzon Island. I traveled 22,000 miles
a year, visiting again and again over the years, forty-two different places
for the Kingdom of the Lord. Sometimes, I met opposition or criticism;
but I kept right on working in spite of any difficulty and I knew this
was because I had learned to run on the track and across the country in
spite of bad weather or heckling from other racers.
I enjoyed studying in college. History was my favorite subject. I saw
how through history God was dealing with men. I received my best marks
in History. During my senior year I received an A. The head of the History
Department offered me free post-graduate work in History in a famous University.
I had once thought of being a history teacher so it was a tempting offer.
However, I declined it for God had put in my heart the call to the ministry.
I was proud that I could answer, "No, thank you, I am going to study
in the seminary." I was able to follow God's call.
Chapter 4 My Marriage and My First Church
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My first year in college I sat directly behind Molly in Chapel Choir.
her a few times and got her to turn around. I saw her face and it pleased
me. I liked her but I had few classes with her and no money for dates.
That was my mistake. I found out later that her folks were missionaries
in China and she and her sisters and brothers had the same troubles as
I had with money.
We were both active in the college Y.W.C.A. and the Y.M.C.A., but these
organizations had few joint meetings. She belonged to the Student Volunteers
Organization for would be missionaries and I belonged to a club for students
who planned to go on to Seminary. I couldn't read her heart, and it took
me three years to dare to approach her. From then on we were sweethearts.
remember a debate I had with a friend on whether God had a mate picked
out for us from the beginning. I believed that God did have someone picked
out for me. All my experience has proved that this was so. Our minds and
hearts grew together until at the end of our Senior year under a large
tree overlooking a beautiful lake, I asked her and she agreed to be my
wife. Oh, the thrill of that experience!
However, we could not look forward to an early marriage because Molly
had accepted a three year appointment to teach in a mission field in Kentucky
and I had three years of seminary training to fulfill. We kept close contact
with each other through letters and visits through those years.
I studied my first and third year at Western Theological Seminary. My
middle year I received a scholarship to study in New York Biblical Seminary.
Here again I can see God's leading. A farmer's son needed a year of study
and experience in the big city to be prepared for the work God planned
for me in the big cities both at home in America and abroad. The New York
Biblical Seminary was located near the United Nations Building.
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Among the student body were missionaries from foreign fields and students
from other countries. This proved to be a broadening experience for me.
I was also given the opportunity to work weekends at the West End Collegiate
On June 28, 1938, after my graduation from seminary, Molly and I were
married. After a beautiful honeymoon in Northern Michigan we returned
to Holland to pack our things and move to our first church in Buffalo,
New York. While we were in Holland, we walked out to the park one evening.
We had many sweet memories there. To our amazement we found a bed of gorgeous
red flowers in the form of a cross on the very spot where we had made
our promise to each other. It was as if God were saying "Do you see?
I have called you to bear your cross together."
It is true. We have always worked together, each supplementing the other.
We both love children. Molly had undergone teacher's training and had
earned her Teacher's Life-Credential. I had my seminary training. She
had three years experience in a mission station in Kentucky and I enjoyed
one of my summer assignments in a neighbor mission station. We worked
together in our church in Buffalo. She helped me with our Saturday workshop
and Bible class for the children and young people. She even went calling
with me. Our companionship included all phases of our work.
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Our second summer Molly went to Michigan, one week ahead of me, to meet
her parents who were retiring after thirty-six years on the mission field
of China. Now strange thoughts went through my mind. We were married before
they had ever seen me. What would they think of me, their first son-in-law?
I had written to them saying I was going to throw my hat in first, and
then enter their house; but as I stepped out of my car I saw them smiling
at me as they sat waiting for me on their porch. Molly ran out to give
me her kiss of greeting, I shook hands and was accepted by my parents-in-law.
I loved those old missionaries at once. They looked so much like I would
like to look some day, I thought. They were the soul of courtesy. I loved
them as I loved my own parents. I heard them talk about their many years
of work in China during the rest of our vacation.
I felt richer as we returned to our work in Buffalo although we were financially
not very rich at all. We lived on very little for we received only $1,200.00
a year and we paid our own car expenses. We found our recreation in visiting
Niagra Falls which was very near Buffalo. We visited the falls again and
again. Sometimes we crossed Peace Bridge to visit the Canadian Falls.
We found great happiness in our work and rejoiced to see the church grow
from 10 active members to 100 families in the four years we were there.
Our work in the big city, before we had a family, drew us close together
in a sweet cooperation that has endured. We learned to know and love many
people of different backgrounds; people of Scottish, English, Dutch, and
Italian descent. It was in Buffalo that God spoke again clearly to me
and I felt sure of His guidance.
For three years we enjoyed to the full our work in the Buffalo Church.
Instead of being disheartened by finding a mere handful of people, and
almost no children among them, in the church, we combined our efforts
in choirs, Vacation Bible School, Saturday workshop, and other activities.
We gathered a fairly good sized crowd of earnest young Christians to help
us in the work. I said to Molly, "I would be glad to stay here all
Chapter 5 The Call to China
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We had been well those three years in Buffalo, New York. The only request
we had made often to God was for a child of our own. Although we loved
children so much and worked with them all the time, we did not have any
of our own as yet.
One day I fell ill with a high fever that kept me in bed for almost a
week. For three days I had hardly opened my eyes. I spent a lot of time
in prayer. All of a sudden Jesus spoke to me again. This time He said
to me, "I want you to go to China." I was startled, yet I knew
who it was who had spoken.
I remembered that when I first introduced Molly to my parents, my mother
said, "Now, don't take him way off to China, someday." Shortly
after our engagement Molly had been urgently requested to go to China
for a three year term of service. I could see, as she struggled with this
request, how much she loved China; but she decided that since God had
led her to pledge her life to be united with mine before this request
came, she must decline the offer and trust that God would continue leading
us. Through the following years she had never talked very much about China.
A little later that morning, when Molly came in to give me my medicine
and some refreshing milk to drink, I told her of what Jesus had said to
me. I thought she would be very happy and excited. She told me that we
had just found out for sure that we had our hopes for a child of our own,
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"If we go soon, how can we carry a small baby into a country which
has been so unsettled by war, so worn out by the constant demands of the
conqueror. I always wanted to go back to China ever since I left it when
I was 17 years old, to study at Hope College. But more of my memories
of my childhood days have been memories of living with a suitcase ready
so that we could flee at a moment's notice. We had to flee often because
a war lord was marching through or the bandits were at the city gates
or the communists in the interior were showing their faces. Sometimes
they would occupy our home after we had fled. Dare we go into that country
with this wee baby Clod will soon give us?"
I told her we must go wherever God sent us and assured her that God was
with us to guide us. I revealed how God had led my thinking. I had been
reading of many who volunteered their lives to fight for freedom. God
kept saying to me, "Would you volunteer your life for my kingdom?"
This was not the first time I had felt this urge to be a missionary. I
had even applied when I was in seminary and the Board of Missions had
replied that because of the great Depression they were sending out no
new missionaries. Instead they were forced to recall some missionaries
for lack of funds. Now, again, I fell the urge to be a missionary, I had
heard God clearly call me.
Molly replied in words that I shall always remember, "Yes, Dear,
we must only be sure it is His will. Then we will go wherever He says.
Let us wait and pray three days and then decide."
After three days we decided that this was God's will and applied to the
Mission Board. Then followed a period of real testing of our faith. The
reply we received was disappointing. The letter said that some Mission
Boards were recalling missionaries because of the troubled conditions
of China under the Japanese. However, they included an application blank;
so we filled it out and sent it off to reach the Board before its semi-annual
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In July at our Youth Conference in the Rochester classes, an important
Board member, who was a leader at the Conference, called us aside and
said, "The Board considers Joe too old to learn the Chinese Language.
You may as well forget about it."
I thought to myself, "I am thirty-two and can still grasp new ideas."
I was keenly disappointed. We went home from the Conference to work on
our Vacation Bible School. It was the second largest D.V.B.S. in Buffalo,
the 13th largest city in the United States. We had carefully prepared
our young people for this task so it was very successful. We lay in bed
the night of the closing of the Bible School and thanked God for His blessing.
Suddenly the telephone rang. It was Dr. Luman Shafer, our beloved secretary
of the Mission Board. He told us we were appointed and should be ready
to go to China in September. Too old? We weren't too old to stay awake
all night thinking and praying and discussing plans. We felt full of vim,
vigor, and vitality.
We sent a telegram to Molly's folks so they could rejoice with us. Later,
as we took our vacation in Michigan, we were filled with questions. Now,
a strange thing happened. 1 was not sure that I was not too old. I was
frightened to think of learning the Chinese Language. Those strange Chinese
characters, would I ever be able to read or write them? As we sat on the
porch Molly and her Father and Mother were chattering but I was quiet.
How could I face the problems before me? My heart trembled. Suddenly,
the answer came clear again. "Go. I have sent you. Will I not care
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Then I could join the conversation. I asked many questions and received
the blessing of those who had spent many happy years serving the Lord
in China. My heart was at peace as we prayed together and I never doubted
again that this was His will for us.
Oh, how sad we were to leave the people we had grown to love. One of the
Elders came to me with these words, "I wanted you to stay but somehow
I knew we could not keep you long. May your work for the Lord be greatly
The birth of our darling baby boy was like another blessing from Heaven,
assuring us of God's love and leading. Jimmy was a good baby. His golden
curls made him the favorite of everyone. We had the joy of watching him
grow as we made preparations to leave Buffalo. We had to sell our furniture,
pack our possessions, and say goodbye to our friends.
Then came the real blow. Pearl Harbor was bombed and America was in the
war on both sides of the world. Our directions were to proceed to California,
hut not to board a ship for China. Instead we would be studying the Chinese
language at the University of California in Berkeley.
At last our car was loaded up and we started on our 2,000 mile journey
to the West coast. We stopped in Michigan to see our relatives there.
They had not seen our son since he was baptized. Now, he was almost a
year old and raring to go. He was very active and healthy. The car proved
to be too small for Jimmy. Every time we stopped he wanted to get out
and race on his tricycle. He was hard to hang on to.
We had the opportunity to realize the beauty within our country. We saw
the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, Pike's Peak, and many other wonderful
scenes before we arrived at Berkeley, California. It was a beautiful city
with a great bay and a seven mile long bridge separating it from the large
city of San Francisco. We could see Alcatraz, the Rock, which was a maximum
security prison for the worst criminals.
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We enjoyed our language study at the University. There were seven families
all preparing to go to China in the court where we lived. We had many
things in common besides our language study. We had young children. Three
new babies were born within our two years of language study to three families
in our court. Our dark haired little girl, Joan, was born in the Oakland
Hospital just on the edge of Berkeley. We were delighted with our children.
However, we still saw no opportunity to go to the field of labor where
God had sent us. Uppermost in my mind was the thought that though we had
completed two years of language study, it was Mandarin that we were studying,
not the Amoy dialect which I would have to use. Two years had gone by
and I was two years older.
The Board moved us back to New York to get further study in missions at
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. We were to be just a little farther
east than Buffalo where we had worked and had said farewell to our dear
friends. Berkeley had been warm but now we were plunged again into snow
and cold. It was a bitter winter. Jim and Joan enjoyed the rides in their
cozy, warm box on our sled. They built a snow house, with our help, in
the back yard and played in it all winter long. We had 130 inches of snow
and no thaws. All the exercise we needed was to climb to the University
Hill once a day. We studied hard and were healthy and strong that winter.
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Anxious to go on our way to China, we found it hard to wait longer, yet
we never doubted that God was with us and we were being prepared somehow
for our service in China. We returned to Michigan at the time when President
Roosevelt had suddenly died and the Germans were taking a terrible beating.
Hitler, in his madness, was still pushing an army of Germans to destruction.
My younger brother, Ralph, was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He
carries with him now a metal plate where shrapnel had made a hole in his
skull. News of Ralph's injury made me think of my joy when Ralph was born.
He went to war and came back to us safely. He is a wonderful Christian
today and I am proud of him.
One of my supporting churches in Michigan saw how hard it was to be waiting.
It was not too difficult while we were busy studying. In California our
weekends were full of activity while we organized a new church for the
workers in the shipyards of Richmond. In Ithaca we again had work to do
each Sunday in the Reformed Churches nearby where I preached every Sunday.
But in Michigan, with time on our hands, the waiting became hard. The
Hudsonville Reformed Church was without a pastor at the time so they invited
us to help them for nine months. We had a very happy and fruitful time
working in this supporting church. We established a close fellowship that
has endured through the years.
Just at the close of this period of service our golden haired daughter,
Mary, was born. She was a beautiful baby, but we almost lost her within
a few hours of her birth. The conflict of Rh negative blood and Rh positive
blood endangered her life. In God's wisdom and power she lived. We were
very grateful, too, to the doctor, who was a former missionary to South
Fukien, China. He knew the specialists
to turn to in this case. She was not hurt physically or mentally and our
prayers were answered. This was a time of testing our faith because all
through this dangerous time I continued my work of preaching and teaching
in the Hudsonville Church.
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When Mary was not yet three months old we had the good news that we were
to start our journey to China. We were to go to San Francisco and wail
for the second trip of the "Marine Lynx" which, at the time,
was still in the form of a troop ship. We did not mind the prospect of
sleeping on hammocks in the hatches. What we longed for was the chance
to begin our missionary work in China. It had been almost four years since
we were appointed as missionaries to China. God had His own good purpose
in preparing us during that time of language study. He had given us a
precious time of close fellowship in one of our supporting churches and
three lovely children. We thank God especially that He kept us home until
Mary was born where doctors knew what to do for her case. If we had been
across the seas we might have lost her. Surely, God was guiding us.
Chapter 6. On the Way to China
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In the last few weeks of our four years' wait, we enjoyed a cottage on
Lake Michigan. It was offered to us by some friends. We climbed the sand
dunes and swam in the lake to increase our strength through exercise and
play. We were ready when the call came to proceed to the West Coast. Just
then God again provided something we did not dream of.
A single lady was transferring to Phoenix, Arizona, but although she wanted
her car there she hesitated to drive all that way alone. She found out
that we were going out to the West so she asked me to drive her car out.
She was happy to have the family ride along. How wonderfully our God supplies
for us just what we need!
Friends in San Francisco also provided a place for us to live while we
awaited the sailing date. One night we gathered in a big church in Oakland
for our commissioning service. There were 750 missionaries returning or
going for the first time lo China and the Philippines. That night was
a very impressive service with the 750 missionaries walking up to the
huge improvised platform, singing with happy hearts:
Lead on, O, King Eternal The day of March has come Henceforth infields
of conquest Thy tent shall be our home Through days of preparation Thy
grace has made us strong And now, O, King Eternal We lift our battle song..
What a thrill it was to join those voices lifted in joyous praise that
evening. The words seemed to fit exactly our experiences. We felt the
strength of God; so we felt unafraid of what might lie before us.
We sailed on one of the troop ships built in Richmond where, during our
time of language study, I and some other missionaries had worked for the
Lord. As I thought of that work, I remembered how we had started with
a small group of Christian shipyard workers and had built up a congregation.
There is a church there today.
As we steamed out of the harbor we saw the long bridge from Berkeley to
San Francisco and ahead of us the Golden Gate which would be or gateway
to our work in China. Our hearts were filled with peace, especially as
we thought what a sure way of guidance and power we had over the bridge
Pretty soon, all we could see was sky and sea and we imagined ourselves
alone. We sailed on for days and days without trouble while we got acquainted
with one another. It takes a long time to get to know 750 people from
many denominations, although living in the big hatches and sleeping in
our bunks tied so close together helped the cause. Some of the missionaries
gathered in their own groups because they didn't consider our worship
similar to theirs. Most of us forgot our differences and gathered around
the Word of God together.
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As we traveled we kept looking for flying fish and bigger fish such as
sharks and whales. We did see some sharks and whales. We enjoyed watching
the sea gulls which followed us almost all the way across the ocean. They
rode on our air ways gracefully. They soared up high again only to glide
down on the air stirred up by the ship's movement. They ate the scraps
thrown into the sea by our ship. We wondered what they did at night until
the captain told us that they rested on the hack of the ship when darkness
There were 250 children among us. We considered the need of organizing
them for play and for safety. I was on a committee with two other people
to organize the activities of the children to keep them happy on the boat
and to keep them out of danger on the stairways which were steel and the
decks which were not protected with rails. One lurch of the ship might
cause a child to fall off the ship or down a stairway.
When our weather changed and a wind sprang up that almost swept a child
overboard, we realized our plans must be put into effect immediately lest
one child should b? lost.
As a member of the committee on children's safety, I thought of all the
games and activities for their enjoyment. Other committee members worked
on the schedule of the ones who were asked to watch the children at play.
We told the parents that we had to depend upon their cooperation for we
could not do it alone. We had a very happy time with the children each
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Just before Christmas it was announced to the adults, secretly, that the
churches of San Francisco had prepared a Christmas gift for each child
on hoard. When the churches knew that we would celebrate Christmas day
on hoard the ship, they got a hold of the names and ages of the children
and prepared gifts for them. Our committee met to plan a Christmas program
for the adults and a Christmas party for the children. We found enough
copies of the Messiah for those who volunteered to sing selected numbers
from that great oratorio. A preacher was selected from among us to conduct
our worship service for Christmas morning. The children's party was planned
and we were ready for the big day.
On Christmas Eve the ocean became very wild with huge waves accentuated
by a severe earthquake on the ocean floor. Our ship was tossed about like
a bubble on the spray. All through the night some of us had been on guard
to see that no children were tossed out of the four tiers of bunks. We
knew that the mothers with three or four children to watch would have
a rough time in the storm.
Just as it grew light we passed a sheer white rock that projects out of
the ocean. It was called Lot's wife. When we saw Lot's wife, the thought
came that we had left all to go and tell the Asian world that Jesus Christ
was born. Surely, He would lake care of us and our purpose for His Glory
would be accomplished.
When we went to the captain the next morning to discuss with him whether
we could still keep our plans for Christmas, the captain asked if any
missionaries had met with accidents and been injured. He reported that
news from a ship ahead of us had revealed all kinds of accidents and deaths
and even incidences of suicide when some in their terror jumped overboard.
We reported no injuries at all. He marveled at this and that we wanted
to carry through our plans in spite of the turbulent sea. The only explanation
that can be given is God's presence and God's care.
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In spite of parents who fell on the decks and lost hold of children whom
they were carrying; others were able to help them and save the children
from going overboard. We kept a prayer vigil all the time, each taking
our turn. We held our Christmas morning worship, although the preacher
of the day had to return to his hunk as soon as the service was over.
He was very sea sick. We carried through our Christmas party and each
child was delighted with his toy or doll. In the evening, we sang the
Christmas numbers of Handel's Messiah. In every heart there was a song
of praise to our God for his protection and care.
We had three children. Jim was five years old, Joan was three years old
and our baby, Mary, was six months old. Joan and Mary stayed with Molly.
She had selected the corner of the hatch where she could nurse the baby
and have a little chance for privacy. I found a backless chair for Molly
which just fit between the bunk and the side of the ship. Of course the
bunks were too narrow and too near the one above to use for sitting or
lying down with a nursing baby. Molly used the backless chair so she could
feed the baby and used a laundry basket for the baby's crib.
Jim and I were in the front of the ship. I lay on the third tier of bunks
and Jim was on the second tier below me. In the prow of the ship the movement
was quite thrilling. Suddenly the ship would be tossed high in the air
and then plunge into the trough of the huge waves and the ship would shudder
violently. We felt as if our stomachs also dashed up and down with each
wave we met.
I am reminded of the man and his son who were next to us in the hold.
Mr. Robert Vick was a new missionary. We met his parents before we sailed
and knew how reluctant the parents were to let them go far away from home
as missionaries to China. We spent a lot of time with them to help them
adjust to many new experiences. The Vick boy was only about two years
old so Jim proved to be a good helper to keep the younger boy happy.
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There was a big group of Reformed Church missionaries on board. In our
group we had only two frightening experiences. One day, when Peter Muilenberg,
age two, was left in a play pen in our hatch while his mother went to
the dining room, someone who cleaned the hatch picked him up and took
him out of the play pen, forgetting to put him back. When his mother returned,
Peter was nowhere in sight. A quick search did not reveal his hiding place;
so we quickly notified the captain who requested over the loud speaker,
the cooperation of everyone in finding a two year old boy. Soon he was
found several decks above in a gun turret used as a temporary play room.
He had miraculously passed all the dangers of unguarded decks and was
safe. We joined Virginia Muilenberg in
giving thanks to God for His protecting care.
Another time we were gathered at the purser's office joking and talking
together. A few children were there with us, including Joan. The purser's
office was located on the fourth deck. Just below his office lay the steel
stairs with steel rails. I had Joan on a leather harness to keep her safe.
She was a fearless little girl and leaped and ran at will depending upon
me to hold her back from danger. At this time we were near the top step
and suddenly she playfully leaped out. The strap, pulled taut, snapped
and she landed on the steel rail. Everybody stood frozen in tear watching
her waver. She could have plunged four decks down to her death on the
one side or fallen on the steel steps and gone on down the stairs but
I reached her and grabbed her just in time. She was unhurt. The purser
cursed in his relief from anxiety, but we laughed in relief and breathed
a prayer of thanks to God. Needless to say, we no longer depended upon
the harness to keep Joan safe. We needed to watch her with greater vigilance,
but I trusted in the One who surely had saved her from falling until I
could reach her and hug her to myself.
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At last, we came to our first port, Shanghai. The first thing we noticed
was the large crowd of hungry people that lined the piers, for the long
war was just over. Everything was still confused and disorganized in war-torn
China. The missionary men organized to carry baggage to the piers and
to the hotels or we would have lost it all.
One group of missionaries separated from the rest at this port, flying
by planes to the north and the west of China. Due to the cold weather
at this time of the year the plane on which our friends, the Vicks, flew
had trouble when the wings iced over and one wing broke. We had reached
the second port. Hong Kong, when we heard the tragic news of this plane
crashing and the deaths of many missionaries including all but one of
the Vicks family. The pilot asked people to try to save their lives by
jumping from the plane as he brought it low. Mr. and Mrs. Vick, each with
a small son, held securely in his arms, made the attempt. The mother and
one boy were killed instantly but the father lived long enough to tell
them where to send little Robert Vick. So the grandparents who had been
so reluctant to see their son go way out to China as a missionary, had
the comfort of a little grandson with only a broken leg to ease their
pain as they made a home for this sole survivor of a family dedicated
to bringing the gospel to the Chinese people.
While we were in Shanghai, Molly and a few other graduates of the Shanghai
American School, took a trip to find out how the dearly remembered High
School had come through the war years. Later, the ship went directly on
to Hong Kong by-passing but coming very close to the port of Amoy, our
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When we arrived in Hong Kong we hunted for a hotel where we stayed for
thirteen days, for in the New Year season no transportation was available.
Meanwhile, our luggage was all mixed up with the goods of the other missionaries
who disembarked at this port; so it required several days of careful search
to find and gather our things together and put them on a freighter for
At last, we started on our first plane ride, just after hearing of the
tragic death of our friends, the Vicks, and a Methodist bishop and his
wife. Because the ventilators were not working we soon suffered terrific
heal on the plane. After a fueling stop in Canton where we shivered in
the cold wind while mechanics tried to repair the ventilators, we took
off again for Amoy. It was still so intensely hot in the cabin that we
peeled off every garment that we could in order to be more comfortable.
As we approached Amoy, the pilot informed us that we might have to go
on to Foochow because of the low ceiling over Amoy. This was another blow
to our plans.
However, a little later he lifted our spirits by announcing that a wind
was clearing the low clouds away. I was anxious to get a good look at
this city from the air, but just then, I had to take one of the children
to the comfort room and missed the first sight of Amoy which I had been
looking forward to, for so long. In spite of that disappointment it was
with great joy that we greeted those who were there to meet us.
A truck took us, as well as our baggage from the airport to the bund of
the Amoy harbor. From there we looked across the channel to the small
island of Ko-lang-su. We traveled in san-pans across this channel. We
had to bargain for a long time before we agreed on a fair price for the
trip. We discovered this bargaining for price was the normal procedure
when we went anywhere. Another strange experience was to be rocked across
this channel by one oar at the back of the boat instead of being rowed
across with two oars, as we had been used to.
Mission Main Page
When we reached the jetty we had to bargain again with the men who would
carry our suitcases up the hill to San-loh, the home where we would stay
for a while. After our experience of extreme heat on the plane the chilly
air of January in a completely unheated home, sent some of us to bed with
severe colds. That was colder to me than the zero degree weather of Michigan
because of the lack of provision for heating in the relatively low temperature
of the winter in the semi-tropics. It made me determined to find a pot-bellied
stove somewhere so I could give my family at least one room to get warm
Chapter -- Fukien Mission Stations
Mission Main Page
Help the "The Amoy Mission Project!" Please
share any relevant biographical material and photos for the website and
upcoming book, or consider helping with the costs of the site and research
materials. All text and photos will remain your property,
and photos will be imprinted to prevent unauthorized use.
Bill Xiamen University MBA Center
Snail Mail: Dr. William Brown
Box 1288 Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian
Last Updated: October 2007
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