Letters - 1901.10.5 on Furlough to Mr. Baring-Gould from Norwich
59 St. Martins Lane
Oct. 5, 1901
Dear Mr. Baring-Gould,
Thank you very much for the letter and instructions received this morning. I also have to thank the Committee for the copy of the life of George Mueller which I duly received. From recent letters from our mission I see that this book has been a great blessing to some of our missionaries. I have long wished to possess a copy. I had several letters from both natives and fellow-missionaries last week, and although the poor Chinese are suffering from plague and flood and scarcity of food, the prospects for the spread of the gospel are more cheering than ever. One thing I did not fail to give thanks for—through the action of some of our C.M.S. ladies—women-workers in Fukien, our moral vision is getting clearer and we are learning the sacredness of our obligations. This cannot fail to have its holy influence upon our Chinese Christians. I have a new sacrifice to lay on God’s altar as a result of the experience of life in Fukien, the sacrifice of a “broken spirit.” I am trusting to be the more useful in consequence. God grant it. Please allow me to express once more my lasting gratitude to you for all your patient kindness. It has been a strength to me to meet sympathy from my Home Committee.
Margaret E. Barber.
The life of George Mueller (1805-1898) has long been an influential example of faith, prayer, and service. It is no surprise that the C.M.S. would send copies of this book to all their workers in the field. It is likely that Miss Barber received the biography written by A. T. Pierson, George Muller of Bristol and his Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God. This biography is perhaps more well-known than Mueller’s own Autobiography, and it had recently been published in 1899.
A Broken Spirit
It seems her year on furlough has given Miss Barber ample time to reflect. This, her own struggles with her placement in the Mission (see previous letter), and these letters she received from China perhaps affected her. She may really be speaking of a deeper work of God upon her when she says that she is “(laying) a new sacrifice…on God’s altar”. We cannot say much more, but this period has left her with a “broken spirit.”
Brokenness will become a theme of her teaching in her later years. Not only did she teach Watchman Nee to bear the cross, but she also specifically taught brokenness from Jesus’ breaking of the loaves to feed the 5,000. Brokenness would later become a hallmark of Nee’s ministry.