Sources - A Seed Sown In China by James Reetzke

Where to buy

A Seed Sown In China can be bought directly from the publishers at Chicago Bibles & Books


This invaluable resource is the fourth edition of a biography that Reetzke had been expanding since 2001. The first edition includes much material which is not included in the latest version for copyright reasons. This last revision most clearly establishes the facts regarding M. E. Barber’s affiliation with the Church Missionary Society. For example, every other source states that she arrived in China for the first time in 1899. Reetzke makes it clear that her first voyage arrived in 1886. This and many other facts from her early service are made plain for the first time in this work.

This is the most accurate and verifiable account of Miss Barber’s life. By bringing together her early life, the majority of her poems, and all of Watchman Nee’s remembrances, Reetzke has done us an invaluable service. To those who would like to be students of her life, this book is a great starting point.


The biography is in three main sections.

  1. Biography
  2. Poems
  3. Appendix of all Watchman Nee’s anecdotes about Miss. Barber


Reetzke divides this into three sections

  1. Background: The author provides helpful context for Barber’s desire to be a missionary. The spiritual climate in England during the 1880’s was in much renewal and revival, and she was a product of that atmosphere.
  2. Her early service as an Anglican missionary laid a solid foundation of language skills, gospel preaching, Bible teaching, and the dangerous attitudes Christian workers can develop. For the first time in print, Reetzke makes available letters that discuss the politics in the Fuzhou mission which ultimately contributed to Miss Barber’s resignation from the Society.
  3. Her return to China was the most fruitful period of her service, and it is the reason we know of her today. Many anecdotes about her shepherding of Watchman Nee and his early companions during the 1920’s furnish the close of the biography.


This is the most comprehensive collection of Miss Barber’s poems in print. In fact, all but two of her poems can be found there. (“Miracles of Love and Power” and “God is Faithful” are only in Anchored to Infinity). They are alphabetized and keyed to hymnal numbers in Hymns when available.

Four poems are only published in this volume:


Watchman Nee spoke often about his mentor Miss Barber. Many of these stories and examples have been preserved in print. On their own, these anecdotes become one of the most significant sources for studying Miss Barber’s last years. Primarily through Nee’s words do we learn her teachings, methods and personality. Without his testimony, any study of Miss Barber’s life would be hollow.

Notes mentioning this note

Index of Pages