A Gallery of Missionaries

Lemuel Nelson Bell (1894–1973). L. Nelson Bell and his wife Virginia were medical missionaries for the Southern Presbyterian Church. They served at the Love and Mercy Hospital in Qingjiangpu, in the province of Jiangsu, for 25 years before finally returning the U.S. in 1941 during the Japanese occupation. Their daughter Ruth, the future Mrs. Billy Graham, was born in China. In 1956, Bell and Graham co-founded Christianity Today magazine.

Minnie Vautrin (1886–1941). As a teacher at the Ginling (Jinling) College in Nanjing, American missionary Wilhelmina (Minnie) Vautrin was in the city when the Japanese army invaded and the horrific “Rape of Nanking” occurred. Rather than fleeing, Minnie stayed and turned the college into an asylum for thousands of women and children, saving many lives. But the memory of the looting, burning, raping, and killing she had witnessed haunted her. She later had a nervous breakdown, was hospitalized in the U.S, and took her own life.

Frédéric-Vincent Lebbe

(1877–1940). Born in Belgium, Catholic missionary Vincent Lebbe became a Chinese citizen because he believed that missionaries should identify as closely as possible with the Chinese people. He strongly advocated the consecration of Chinese bishops, and his influence eventually led to this ideal becoming a reality. He was taken captive by the Communists in 1940 and died soon after.

John and Betty Stam

(1906/07–1934). One of the most dramatic missionary martyr stories of 20th-century China was the public beheading of the Stams, a young CIM couple who had graduated from Moody Bible Institute, by Communist soldiers in 1934. Their baby daughter Helen was hidden in blankets and rescued by Chinese Christians. The courage of the Stams inspired many others to become missionaries.

Eric Liddell (1902–1945). Olympic-gold-medal winner Eric Liddell, celebrated in the movie Chariots of Fire, ran a much harder race than most people know about. After the Olympics, he moved to China, where his family were missionaries. During the Japanese invasion, all foreigners were interned in prison camps. Eric was a beloved spiritual leader and friend in his camp, showing special concern for the young people. He died of a brain tumor only months before the camp was liberated.

Jonathan Goforth (1859–1936). After barely escaping from the Boxer Uprising, Canadian missionaries Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth returned to China in 1901. Jonathan prayed that God would bring revival to China as he had in Korea, and in 1908 Jonathan witnessed such a revival while preaching in Manchuria. For the next three decades, he became one of the most widely known itinerant evangelists in China. 

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #98 in 2008]

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