Letters - 1901.12.13 to Mr. Baring-Gould


C.M.S. Girl’s School
Dec. 13, 1901

Dear Mr. Baring-Gould,

This is my “Rehoboth.” You will have heard that Ladies Conference appointed Miss Goldie to the Deng Doi Women’s School and Miss Stevens to the Foochow Women’s School (Miss Stevens is C.E.Z. but has had charge of the school before) and so there was no work in prospect for me until Miss Lambert bravely suggested I should come and help here. Conference at once granted the request and I am appointed to help in this school for the present. I teach in the mornings and visit the surrounding villages in the afternoons. I have also charge of some day schools. This afternoon I had a splendid time at a day school and an opportunity of preaching to the heathen afterwards. Our present opportunity amongst these people is wonderful. We all feel that we must make the most of the present. You will understand how thankful I am to be working under such easy conditions. My fellow-workers are delightful and we work harmoniously towards one great end. These schools are the finest buildings in the province; but better than the outward buildings is the sight of over 200 once heathen girls gathered together to be taught the words of eternal life. As I teach these girls day by day I am astonished at their remarkable knowledge of Scripture. Thanking you for your kindness to me when in England.
I remain
Yours sincerely
Margaret E. Barber


C.M.S. Girls’ School

It seems that God had truly gone before her, preparing a fitting assignment for Miss Barber. Recall how in her earlier letter, she was very concerned that she would not return to the physically exhausting itinerant work. In that letter, she even proposed various solutions of working “on loan” somewhere else altogether. From the present letter, it seems that nothing was decided in England. The Ladies Conference must have been stressful for her as her fate hung in the air.


She calls the Girl’s School her “Rehoboth.” Rehoboth is the name Isaac gave to his well dug in Genesis 26:22. Rehoboth means “broad place, or room” according to the ESV footnote. In naming this well, Isaac exclaimed, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Barber’s allusions easily refers to her literally having a place among the missionaries in Fuzhou. Furthermore, it was not just any place, but a broad place, better than she could have hoped for. In her letter she is already rejoicing over the “easy conditions” and the fruitful opportunities before her.

Whether intended or not, more can be seen in her acknowledgement of “Rehoboth.” Isaac found his Rehoboth after much contention with the Philistines over his wells. Now at Rehoboth, finally, the strife was over. Barber herself had been in quite a season of striving, and apparently the Lord brought her to a breaking point and a renewed consecration before she found her “Rehoboth.”

Institutions and Missionaries Mentioned

  • C. E. Z. refers to the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. The C. E. Z. was an all-women missionary organization which also had a large presence in Fuzhou. Barber’s joy in this outcome is palpable in this letter.
  • Miss Emma Sophie Goldie was the longest serving woman in the Mission. According to McClelland’s record, she was the first woman missionary there, arriving in 1887.
  • Miss Clara Jane Lambert had begun with the Mission in 1899; however she, along with Miss Jessy Bushell, had been in Fuzhou for over a decade with the Female Education Society. Bushell and Lambert began the Girl’s Boarding School which was largely supported by Miss Lambert’s friends back in England. In their recent history, the Girl’s Boarding School had been absorbed by the CMS Fukien Mission, with Miss Lambert and Bushell becoming missionaries under the CMS at that time.
    • It is interesting to note that Miss Lambert’s suggestion that Miss Barber join the Girl’s School was “brave.” Miss Barber has had several years experience in teaching in the Day Schools and had passed her language exams. Maybe this bravery speaks about the dynamic in the Ladies’ Conference at the time, or it simply expresses something of Miss Barber’s appreciation that someone spoke up upon her behalf. This assignment at the Girls’ Boarding School is where the rest of her time with the CMS will take place.

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