From the Editor — Surprised by China

PULLING TOGETHER an issue of Christian History is a combination of planning and, I trust, Providence. That each issue in the end resembles a unity is always a pleasant surprise.

We had set our sights on an issue that would examine both Hudson Taylor and modern missions to China. I thought we could cover Taylor in a couple of articles and have plenty of room for other topics. Like other well-known missionaries, such as Timothy Richard. Like the harrowing 1950s, when the communist government persecuted the church.

Not quite. The issue quickly got out of control as we discovered more and more fascinating aspects of Taylor’s life and mission. For example, read about the extraordinary enthusiasm of his missionaries (see “The Extraordinary Cambridge Seven") and the results of Taylor’s policy on female missionaries (see ‘Unbecoming’ Ladies of the China Inland Mission,”).

We couldn’t talk about Taylor, of course, without talking some about the missionaries who came before him. See both “Medieval Missionaries to China,” and “The Gallery.”

Then there is the infamous Boxer Rebellion: I had heard of it but had no idea of the gripping, and frankly bloody, details (see “Missionary Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion.”

And we couldn’t talk about the astounding development of the indigenous Chinese church. See “Getting Free of Missionaries,” and “Miracles after Missions.”

Suffice it to say, the place and the times, especially the last 200 years, make for some of the most fascinating stories in church history. And you’re only getting a smattering. We've hardly done justice to Roman Catholic missions, or to the complex politics that made modern missions both a possibility and a problem, or to the millions of Chinese believers who contributed to the Christian cause, tens of thousands of whom were martyred.

Still, I dare say, there’s enough to whet the appetite here.

Spelling challenged. For decades, scholars used the older Wade-Giles romanization system, but today, more and more are using Pinyin, the system used by the People’s Republic of China. In this issue, we use Wade-Giles and put the Pinyin equivalent in parentheses for the first use in each article—e.g., Peking (Beijing).

By Mark Galli

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #52 in 1996]

Next articles

Fashion Statement

Missionaries who dressed like the Chinese suffered a few snags.

Alvyn Austin

Trickle-Down Evangelism

The earliest China missionaries started with the elite.

Ralph R. Covell

Christian History Timeline: Hudson Taylor and Missions to China

Chronology of events associated with Hudson Taylor and missions to China.

the Editors

Unbecoming Ladies

Women played a controversial but decisive new role in China missions.

Ruth A. Tucker
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