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A New Departure in Mission Work in China
The Baptist newspaper, 1890
      In the Biblical Recorder of October 16th, is a long letter from Rev. D. W. Herring, of Shanghai, China, announcing a new departure in methods of work adopted by himself, together with Brethren Bryan and Chappell. We adopt the term "new departure," as used by Brother Herring. The departure is stated in brief in a communication to the board under same date as Brother Herring's letter to the Recorder. It is as follows:
Dear Brethren: We, the undersigned, have adopted the following course of action, to take effect the 1st day of January, 1890:
1. We adopt the native style of living - dress, in full; houses,* furniture, and food, modified only so far as in the judgment of each missionary the laws of health require.

2. We accept as a support only three hundred dollars, (U. S. gold), for each missionary - that is, six hundred dollars for man and wife, with fifty dollars extra for each missionary - that is, one hundred for a man and wife, for medical purposes, to be used or not as the case, in the judgment of each missionary, may demand. Also we accept the children's allowances, as provided for in the present regulations of the board. [One hundred dollars per annum for each child. - Ed.]

We have been brought to this action, we trust, by the Spirit of God ; that we may get nearer to God, nearer to the Chinese, and nearer to the people at home.

Mr. and Mrs. L. N. Chappell,
Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Bryan,
Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Herring.

[*In cases where foreign houses are already built, they may be occupied.]

      The following letter accompanied this agreement, and briefly explains the purpose and desires of these brethren in this action. We will say just here that the letter of Brother Herring in the Recorder, is much fuller than this, and those who feel interested - and who does not? - would do well to secure a copy of that paper and read it:

      Dear Brethren: To the inclosed it may be well to add a few words of explanation.

      The question arises, is it possible for us to live on six hundred dollars? By living In the native style, by practicing economy and by having our sanitary needs supplied with the hundred dollars for medical purposes, to be used if needed, we are satisfied that it is sufficient for necessary comfort and for health.

      It may be asked why separate the allowance for sanitary purpose from the salary? Because it is incidental in its nature, and it is probable that in many cases the whole sum will not be needed, and we wish to make our expenses as low as possible without endangering our health.

      Whatever sacrifice we may make is for the glory of God, and will bring us closer to him.

      We hope by adapting ourselves as far as possible to the Chinese mode of life, to bring ourselves more into sympathy with the people.

      We hope it will make them feel nearer to us; we know it will make us feel nearer to them, and this of itself will help to win their hearts. If we can get a good grip on their heartstrings, we may hope to lead them to Jesus.

      Our great need is more missionaries. We must be reinforced largely. We believe that if we decrease our salaries, the brethren and sisters at home will increase their contributions and thus enable the Board to send us more help. We believe that God will call all the workers the people will support.

      We trust that the Board will not only approve this course of action, but will also encourage other missionaries who may be coming out to adopt it. The Northern Board has already recognized a departure in mission work somewhat similar to this. Will not the Board call for a hand of volunteers to join us in this departure? Many strong churches could support a missionary and his wife at a salary of six hundred dollars and medical allowance. Many weaker churches could support a single missionary.

      It is by no means our intention to make a break with other missionaries on the field. On the other hand we are glad to recognize that though they do not agree with us in adopting native style of living, there is a movement among them toward reduction of salary.

In Christian love,
Yours as signed.
September, 1889.

      The Board, of course, accepted the offer of these brethren to work at reduced salaries, and adopted the following as part of a report of the Committee on China Missions.

      "While they duly appreciate the high spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion animating our brethren, they recommend that the Board say in reply to the above request, that they are not prepared to take any step in advance of their former action."

      The former action referred to here was taken after long and earnest consideration of several matters involving the very questions raised by this paper of the brethren in Central China, and was to the effect that the Board has never attempted to regulate the food and clothing, and like domestic matters of missionaries, nor wished to pay them more than they thought needful and proper to receive.

      One or two remarks on the above must suffice for the editor in this issue of the Journal.

1. Every reader of the letters of Brother Herring, as given above, or as published in the Recorder, will feel only admiration for these dear brethren in the noble action they have taken in this matter. None, surely, but will feel their missionary zeal quickened by the self-sacrificing spirit manifested by the brethren on the field. All praise to them, and may we all at home catch something of their spirit, and help on the great Work.

2. But it must be borne in mind that this is an experiment upon which our brethren are entering; an experiment growing out of an intensely earnest desire to do something that will bring them nearer to the Chinese, and will, at the same time, stimulate the brethren at home to new and more earnest efforts in behalf of this great work, and yet an experiment the wisdom of which and the practicability of which are seriously doubted by many very wise missionaries of large experience. And if the brethren in Central China should, after the honest effort they are making to carry it out, find that they had made a mistake, let no one be unduly cast down, nor imagine that these brethren have grown unwilling to bear the hardships which the life they have entered on will entail.

3. If they succeed, they will have started a movement of great consequence.

4. The Board having under its direction many missionaries of many views on these subjects, can do no more than it has done that is, gladly accept every offer that any missionary may feel that he can make to reduce his expenses, and yet lay down no rule and adopt no policy which would interfere with the private judgment of its missionaries, or even seem to cast reflection upon their past or present action on these disputed points of missionary polity. The true policy we believe to be to respect the views of each and every missionary, so long as the Board has confidence in his prudence and piety, and leave him to work in his own field according to his best judgment, limited by certain general regulations agreed upon by the Board and the missionaries.

5. We feel constrained to add one thing more. We sincerely trust that our brethren, in their deep zeal and enthusiasm, will take care of their health - a most important element in missionary success. The length of a missionary's labor is largely dependent on his care of his health, and length of labor is often a matter of more moment than intensity of labor

God bless and keep and guide these brethren in their efforts to glorify him. With warmest sympathy and tenderest affection we will watch them in their "new departure." Many prayers and many hopes center about them - Foreign Mission Journal.


[From J. R. Graves, editor, The Baptists newspaper, January 2, 1890, p. 6. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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