Related Letters - 1896.01.16 Instructions of the Committee
Church Missionary Society
Instructions of the Committee delivered on January 16th 1896, to the Misses M. E. Barber, F. Oatway, K. Andrews, E. J. Harrison, A. L. Leybourn, E. Brooks, R. Clemson, and E. L. Little, proceeding to the South China Mission.
On the 13th, of August last the Committee recorded “their unfaltering belief that no disasters, however great, should be allowed to interfere with the prosecution of that purpose for which the Society exists—viz., the Evangelisation of the Heathen which in the Divine origin is without conditions. They deprecated any suggestion that evangelistic enterprise in China, or in any other part of the World, is to be necessarily dependent upon the possibility of protection being accorded to the Missionaries, either by the Government of the country in which they labour, or by Great Britain. At the same time the Committee recognised the responsibility resting upon them to carry on their Missionary work with due prudence and discretion, and to take all steps in their power for the safety of their Missionaries, and particularly of the Christian women whom God is at this time calling forth in such large numbers.
It has been in this spirit that the Committee have been carefully considering at what time it would be expedient to allow you, dear Sisters, to go forth to that portion of the Mission Field which has so recently been consecrated by the blood of our martyred friends. That terrible tragedy at Kucheng has again raised the question in many minds as to the advisableness of sending to China women workers, at all events into up-country stations. But you have, the Committee believe, counted the cost; for Christ’s sake you claim the right to a share in the perils of the spiritual warfare. You know that one of the chief obstacles to the progress of Christianity in China is presented by the ignorance of your sisters in that country, and that to a very large extent these women can only be reached by women. Heartily do the Committee thank GOD for the grace which has enabled you, one and all, to respond to the invitation to go forth. The Committee are keenly alive to the grave responsibility which they incur by their action, but conscious that no pains have been spared to ascertain the present condition of the country, and the minds of our Missionaries in the Field collectively, in prayerful dependence upon GOD they do now send you forth, but with the distinct understanding that you continue to reside in the Treaty Port of Foochow, and not engage in work in the country district until you have received definite permission from the Committee in London.
“FuhKien has become”, so recently writes a Missionary in the Field, “hallowed soil, bought by the blood of the martyrs. The true Apostolic succession shall never be severed, and I know that there are many now at home who are ready to take the place of those fallen standard-bearers”. Honoured indeed of GOD are you in now being allowed in your measure to fill the breach.
You, Miss Barber, Miss Oatway, Miss Andrews, and Miss Harrision, are definitely appointed by the Committee to work in the Hien of Hok-Chiang, which, through the kind consideration of the C.E.Z.M.S., has, together with the city and Hiens contiguous to Foochow, now been thrown open to women workers of the C.M.S. You will, if God permit, ultimately take up work in a district in which hitherto no European connected with the C.M.S. has permanently resided. HokChaing is a Hien which has only for years from time to time been visited by Archdeacon Wolfe and his eldest daughter, but it is assuredly a Field which the Lord has blessed. In this Hien you will find some 4000 Native adherents, with their Churches and regular Congregations, under their own Pastors and Native Catechists. You will, moreover, find hundreds of women and children eagerly seeking to be taught the way of the Lord more fully, and thousands in countless villages who are perfectly willing to hear from you the words of eternal life.
At this point instructions for individual missionaries are inserted into each individual’s letter. Miss Barber’s instructions are below.
The Committee trust that you, Miss Barber and Miss Oatway, will, when the condition of the country permits, be associated together in work under the immediate superintendence of the Missionary in charge of Kengtau.
You, Miss Barber, have the Committee rejoice to know, enjoyed a somewhat large experience in work for the Master which will serve you in good stead in the Foreign Field. The very character of the people amongst whom your lot will be cast will doubtless prove no slight trial to your own natural energy. It will be well for you constantly to bear in mind that English experience is in itself but a very imperfect guide for China. Live by God’s Grace, walking very closely with Him, and seeking to take broad, well-balanced views of work and workers. In no country in the world is there greater need than in China for the exercise of patience. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”. (Isaiah xxx. 15.) Thus waiting upon God you will prove a source of strength to your colleagues, and a mighty blessing to the women of China.
Now the general instructions to all the women in this group continue.
The Committee would draw the attention of each of you to the laws and regulations which will be placed in your hands, and which they rely upon you from time to time carefully study. But they would earnestly press upon your earnest attention part 6. which contains their “Instruction to Missionaries explanatory of the principles of the Society”, every page of which they regard as of vital importance—if by GOD’s grace you are to prove faithful and efficient witnesses for Him in the Foreign Field.
The Committee will only add that they trust that you will allow spiritual work among the Foreign Community with whom you may come in contact, only be regarded as your recreation. Be on your guard lest it interfere with the primary work for which you go forth—, viz., the Evangelisaiton of the Heathen. With regard to your social intercourse with members of the Foreign Community, let the life and spirit and conduct of Christ Himself supply you with your pattern.
It may be that as to a large extent on first landing your mouth is closed, your spirit may become depressed. But the Committee would remind you that your immediate duty is to throw all your heart into the work of your colleagues, and if from the first you prove by your presence in their gatherings that your deepest interests are drawn forth to your Native fellow-Christians, you will speedily win their affection and your own feeling of isolation will be speedily diminished.
In commending you, dear Sisters, to the favour and protection of Almighty GOD, and in bidding you farewell, the Committee would remind you, as you go forth for Christ’s sake “among the heathen”, of :-
- Your privilege. “That I might preach Him among the heathen”. Gal. i. 16.
- Your Commission. “An ambassador is sent among the heathen.” Obadiah. 1.
- Your Security. “Under His shadow we shall dwell among the heathen”. Lamentations. iv. 20.
- Your encouragement. “I will be exalted among the heathen” Psalm xlvi. 10. “I will set my glory among the heathen”. Ezekiel. xxix. 21
So shall you take up the paean of victory, “Then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them.” Psalm cxxvi. 2.
By Order of the Committee.
C. M. S.