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Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford
By L. S. Foster

Chapter XXII
Breaking Up

[p. 156]
      As years went on, the mission in North China being a unit on self-support, the native Christians with few exceptions adjusted themselves to it. They were likewise showing signs of real life and aggressiveness, but the exceptions were mostly those who had been trained in the boarding schools. These felt that the mission owed them not only permanent employment for themselves, but also the education of their children, some of whom were now large enough to enter school. They had supposed that Dr. Crawford's peculiar views on this subject would die with him (and he was growing old), and that the young missionaries could be induced to see the advantages of a liberal use of money in their operations. Finding, however, that the young missionaries were firmly fixed in these principles and practices some of them became restless, while others outwardly acquiesced in the inevitable. A number had come into the church since the great change in 1883, and these, with some of the staunch older members, seemed really to appreciate the self-support methods and the reasons therefor. At the meeting of the Teng Lai Association, held at Saling near Ping Tu in November, 1892, some earnest addresses were made by several of the native brethren, which were reported in the Foreign Mission jour­nal by the missionaries present. Deacon Keang said in substance, "In former days it was thought that it required foreign money to make the Christian religion prosper. But by degrees a different state of affairs has come on. Now look around and see the brethren all working with vigor and hope, and our religion prospering as never before." One of the Crawford students heartily responded to this address, and the missionaries present were greatly pleased with the drift of the sentiment, though the leading member of the Saling Church did not acquiesce. At his first visit to a missionary several years before, while yet a heathen, he had proposed that he would join the church if well paid as a preacher. But being re­buked for his mercenary view of the matter, he took the hint and afterwards said but little directly on this line. Still there were indication,
[p. 157]

Dr. and Mrs. Crawford in 1893, about the time they left the Board.

[p. 158]
both before and after his baptism, that with eternal life he also wished some pecuniary advantages from his connection with the church. He said in a speech at this association that the Saling Church must have a chapel and school, meaning of course with foreign money. But Mr. League's patient, faithful teachings on this subject brought even this brother to acknowledge that self-support was the healthier way, as seen in its results. The various outposts around Teng Chow and Hwang Hien were advancing in Christian character, and much voluntary work for the Lord was being performed by the native Christians. In the city of Teng Chow many prejudices had been lived down by the missionaries through patient intercourse with the people. Mrs. Crawford was welcomed to the homes on every hand, and Dr. Crawford, with his long white beard, became so well known from his constant street preaching that the women began to invite them both together to their houses. In warm weather when the street doors would be open, groups of women and children in the shady court yards would ask Mrs. Crawford as she passed to stop and tell them the gospel. A dozen missionary women might have found ample work in the fields open to her. Dr. Crawford's daily street sermons were expected by both the men and the women. In the villages their visits were equally welcome. Mr. Bostick also found warm responses to his plans for voluntary work and willing sacrifices for the Master. Mrs. Bostick regularly taught the gospel to the daughters of Christians and other girls, and was greatly beloved by them. Miss Barton also labored much among the women and girls of the city and country, sometimes accompanying Mrs. Crawford, and sometimes being accompanied by a native Christian woman.

      The issues in the home land that were so agitating the minds of the missionaries did not interfere with their labors on the field, for these differences could not be discussed intelligently with the na­tives, hence they were ignorant that anything unusual was going on until the crisis came. Indeed, it is doubtful if many of the native Christians ever did understand the principles which led to the re­tirement of this band from their old field.

      About this time the Board asked the North China missionaries if they would be willing to be transferred to some other field. Dr. and Mrs. Crawford were thus left in a state of perplexity in regard to the course they ought to pursue. Mr. League, of Ping Tu, was urg­ing them to go west with him, believing that the field occupied by them would not be given up by the Board. He accordingly took a journey as far as Chu Ching, prospecting in that region. The Crawfords

[p. 159]
themselves had long wished that they might enter some of the vast unevangelized portions of the interior, but did not feel it right to leave Teng Chow and the surrounding country uncared for.

      But their perplexity was suddenly cut short in the latter part of June, 1893, by seeing in the reported proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention, at Nashville, that Dr. J. B. Hartwell, who had been eighteen years in America, had been reappointed to North China, and that he would sail in the late fall with ten of the most promising young pastors in the south. This announcement decided the question of removal for the Crawfords and Bosticks. By the late autumn they could vacate their house and find a resting place elsewhere until a suitable new place could be opened. The Leagues at Ping Tu offered Dr. and Mrs. Crawford a home with them until the Board should need their house. As the people at Ping Tu were accustomed to foreigners, they could rent houses there, and thus be nearer their prospective field. By this time those of the new movement, or the retired missionaries as they were called, acting on common principles and bound together by com­mon suffering, had acquired the name of the Gospel Mission. It was pretty well understood that Mr. Herring, with several new re­cruits, would join them in Shantung, with an eye to enlargement toward the southwestern part of the empire.

      Dr. Hartwell reached Teng Chow in August, and was expected to occupy the Crawfords' house. It was not until this time that the missionaries informed the native Christians of the condition of things, and mentioned the points at issue between the Gospel Mis­sion and the Board. The following is taken from a letter written by Mrs. Crawford to Miss Moon in Virginia, July, 1893, which shows how they viewed the situation:

"Yours of June 16 came by last mail. I was so glad to find that you have decided to come back here. It greatly lessens my sorrow at leaving these dear women for whom I have, figuratively, shed my heart's blood. You will have your own work in the Lung San Tien region, but I know you will not allow my Buh Go region to lie waste. Then there are the Christians out at the deacon's village; and in the east, Chin ta sao, and also at Tsung Kia, Tu Wu, and other places. You will love and care for these as no one else can after I go away, for they are yours as well as mine. It would not be wise to divide the old work here. When we leave we leave all the Christians and the station to our successors. To do otherwise would be vexatious and injurious, indeed impossible. The best interests

[p. 160]
of the work are what we desire, and not personal conven­iences or claims. God forbid that we should ever allow any selfish considerations to become a source of division among these native Christians. The one great grief is not that our spiritual children should have other pastors and guides, but that the principle of self-support for which we have struggled and suffered these thirty years, should in this region be swept out of existence and the sub­sidy system come in like a great wave. Of course, this latter policy will bring in the converts and make success, especially now after all these years of seed sowing, and the very fact will be used to prove it the successful or best method. Affairs here had just been firmly established on the self-support basis, the native brethren had nearly all accepted it or had left us, and the new ones who were coming in took it as a matter of course. We were all expect­ing the incoming of a better day. Three have lately been baptized, others are applying, and many more will soon follow. Of course, the hope of material profits will hasten in these and many others. The two policies cannot well go side by side. But we are able to give up all these cares into God's hands. We have fought a good fight, we have kept the faith, we have been true and honest to our convictions of duty and to God, and we leave it all to Him.

"When the Board wrote asking Mr. Crawford to release them from their obligations about the house, he did not feel that he could do so. It would be a dead loss, as of course we should have to make a home elsewhere. This has become a very dear home to us. Every brick and stone, every tree and the very grass is twined around our daily lives, and when we look on that side it breaks our hearts to go. And when we look on these people, our spiritual chil­dren, the anguish is keener still. But when we view the other side and see that God points another way and calls us to a higher duty, we go out with joy and thanksgiving. Only lately have these peo­ple found out our purpose to leave. How could we tell them? The milkman's wife cries every time I see her, so bitterly. 'Never mind,' I tell her, 'others will come and look after you just as well.' And she replies, 'But others will not be my mother.' The deacon's wife, too, came from the country and wept. Mrs. Wang, Chin to sao, and others from a distance do not yet know it. We have not yet decided on our future field, but as soon as the cool days of au­tumn come on some of the brethren will go out in search of one."

      Mr. King had been interested in these discussions and transpir­ing events. He believed in self-support on the field, but hesitated to disturb his relations at home. In the summer of 1892 he wrote
[p. 161]
an earnest letter to the Board, showing how self-support had, after long struggles and many difficulties, been successfully established in North China and was promising good results for the future, for the fruits were already ripening. This was the only field, he said, in which the Board had worked on this line, and he besought them to set it apart for a fair test. After waiting several months Dr. Tupper wrote him that Mr. Pruitt, who was then returning to China, would reply in person for them. The real reply to Mr. King's request was to start work on the opposite plans. Mr. King, with his logical, sanctified mind, took hold of the questions at issue with deep con­victions of their importance, and in September, 1893, sent his res­ignation to the Board to take effect January 1, 1894

      Early in August, 1893, Dr. Hartwell reached Chefoo and sent a note informing Dr. Crawford that he had arrived and had authority from the Board to pay for his house, and that he would soon be in Teng Chow. Dr. Hartwell went to Hwang Hien to hold a meeting of the mission. At this meeting he was authorized to occupy Dr. Crawford's house, and Miss Barton to occupy the one in which the Bosticks were living.

     He then went to Teng Chow and tendered the money due on Dr. Crawford's house, which was at once accepted, and they agreed to vacate the house by the middle of September. In a will written many years before, Dr. Crawford had bequeathed the house to the Board, and his library and household effects to the missionary who should succeed him. The course of the Board toward native self-support led to the destruction of this will, and also to the with­drawal often of its most substantial missionaries. But they hoped that what was a loss to the Board would prove a continual gain to the churches and to the cause of Baptist missions.

      Having only a month's time, they were kept busy making ar­rangements to vacate, and to go they knew not whither in the end. Dr. Crawford and his wife made a farewell visit to Buh Go and the surrounding villages. The Christians and friends were inconsol­able. They wept and pleaded that if they saw fit to leave the city of Teng Chow they should settle in their town, and that they would give them house room until a suitable residence could be procured. They said they would also aid in supporting them. Old Mr. Wang, weeping, said, "Now that the seed you have been sowing all these many years is beginning to spring up, behold you leave it to go to waste."

     Intending to go into the interior of the province, it was neces­sary for the missionaries to dispose of their household effects,

[p. 162]
which were the accumulations of more than forty years. As the few missionaries at Teng Chow were well supplied with such things, there was only the forlorn hope of selling to the Chinese. The various articles, made mostly by Chinese carpenters after American patterns, were priced and labeled, and the sale took place, and all were surprised to find the Chinese suddenly seized with a desire to possess foreign furniture. The better pieces were sold to the mandarins or the rich, and the more ordinary to the common people. Their books, crockery, clothing and some other things were carefully packed in boxes. This sale and packing re­quired many days' labor, during which Chinese friends were al­most hourly calling, and as the hosts had no time to sit down they conversed as they went about attending to their sad duties. Many of the Chinese assisted them, and old acquaintances from all parts of the city came to make parting visits. Mrs. Wang, of Buh Go, spent the last week with them, tenderly aiding in various ways. The Bosticks and the Crawfords, as already mentioned, were go­ing together, and they decided to leave on the thirteenth of Sep­tember. The tenth was their communion season, and as it was to be their last one in the church at Teng Chow, many of the members from the country went in to spend some days with them. In the evenings they had sweet meetings in Dr. Crawford's study. The members expressed grief at their departure, praying in tears for their future welfare and usefulness. Some were so desirous that a part of this band of missionaries should remain and lead them on in the old lines, that the Crawfords again seriously considered the matter and consulted with the Bosticks and Mr. King. But viewing the question all around they feared that strife would be the result, and decided that the Master's cause would be best served by their entire withdrawal from the field.
Go to Chapter 23

[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909; reformatted and reprinted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. - jrd]

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