Letters - 1898.11.01 Extract from Annual Letter
From Miss M. E. Barber, Keng-Tau, South China.
Sa-Loo, Hok-chiang, Nov. 1st, 1898.
It is now such a joy to realize, as one does realize now that one is able to speak, that wherever one goes one may carry the fragrance of that Name which is above every name, and make others, through His grace, partakers of the joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I was privileged to open a station class for women at Keng-tau, at the close of the Chinese new year festivities, February is this year, and that class was kept open until June. I had on an average twelve women, and of the twelve there was not one over whom I could not rejoice.
My object was, not so much to teach character, &c., as to teach each woman as much as possible in the short time, of the Gospel truth. I do praise God for the way those women listened and absorbed the teaching. Two women we hoped would go up to Fuh-chow to be trained as Bible-women. Of these two, one has gone. The other will go shortly, we trust.
The one who has gone to to Foo-chow is a young widow. When she came to us she knew scarcely any character and very little of what is meant to be a believer. When she left she could read nicely, she was always very studious and ready to be taught. I thank God for the privilege of helping that woman, and pray that she may be used greatly for God and to her people.
The other woman—a Malay woman—is very earnest. Since coming back to this district after a long absence of three months, I have visited with her. She took me to one house where three families lived, all of whom have recently thrown away their idols and now serve God.
To my great joy two young women in that house could recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, and some hymns, and also could pray—even the little children said a verse of a hymn to me—and this was the work of that dear Malay woman who sat by listening to her pupils with a radiant face. She says that the idolaters often ask her to go and sit with them and tell them Bible stories, and their favorite story is about Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace. When I think of the wonderful change in this woman since Miss Oatway first visited her and won her for Christ, I can only praise God and take courage.
Another dear young woman, who made great progress whilst with us, has been ill for several months, but even on her sick bed she has had the neighbours in to tell them of Jesus and to implore them to turn from their idols to serve Him. Three families now go to church through her influence.
As to Keng-tau itself the difference is wonderful. The people ae now, without exception, friendly to us and eager for us to live amongst them. We now meet with nothing but kindness when going through the streets, and are never able to accept all the invitations to go and visit the people which they shower upon us.]
Thank God I am in excellent health, and when the weather permits, I hope to visit some of these fifteen unevangelized villages within easy walking distance. I go to Keng-tau frequently, and have always women ready to sit down and be taught as long as I can stay.
As to the place I am living in, Sa-Loo is not a large village, only about 100 families, and only thirteen families are Christian. Last year the Christians built this church. To do so they had to provide half the money, about 30l. Poor as these people are they managed to raise the money, and now can worship God in a building of their own.
Nov. 10th.—Since commencing this letter I have been to a few of the villages near: Lau-a, Sang-sang, Wha-song-gieng, Ai-dieng, Nang-loo, and Nang-ga. In all these villages we found ready listeners, and in each village seed has been sown which I trust will spring up and bear fruit for eternity. If possible, now that I am in such good health, I should like to do itinerating. It is a great privilege to be able to tell those, who as yet have never heard, the story of Jesus.
At Au-dieng the other day three women sat by me for over half an hour, patiently going over and over the words of a little prayer which they wanted to learn. No one had ever before had time to teach them what prayer meant.
There is a Christian here in Sa-loo who is a constant stimulus to me. I mention him because it will encourage those who pray for the Chinese, to see what God has done in and for that man.
Thirteen years ago he put away his idols and decided to worship God. His father persecuted him and tried in every possible way to make him give up his religion. “At one time,” said this man to me, “I really thought I would have to leave home, and then, again, I considered that if I did my father could not hear the Gospel, so I stayed on, hard as it was.” After eleven years the father himself became a Christian. Two years ago he died, rejoicing in Christ Jesus as His Saviour. A wretched hovel, containing one bed, a stove for cooking, one table, and a form, is the place this man calls home. His wife is delicate and often ill; very often there is scarcely enough food to eat, and yet the other day when our Bible-woman said to him, “How poor you are, it is very sad,” he answered, “Don’t say that, God has seen fit to give me this portion and my heart is satisfied.” His fellow Christians here tell me he is always happy and never complains. Thank God for such a man in heathen China. His life is a light in the darkness.