In an epistle to one of the New Testament churches, the Apostle Paul exhorts the brethren that they seek to know those who labor among them in the Lord, and esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. It was a favorite maxim and fundamental principle of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of Roman Catholic Jesuitism, that, to be successful in any enterprise, every leader "know his men." He established a complete system of espionage around all the workers of his order, and knew their every movement. He knew his men. But this was in order that his organization might the more successfully tyrannize over the hearts and consciences of men. For a higher and nobler purpose we should seek to know those who have been called to special labor among us in the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, that we may have an intelligent and sympathetic appreciation of their personal qualities and the conditions that surround them. Thus we may be able to have fellowship with them in their toils, and by our prayers and sacrifices render a really sustaining support. Thus alone, too, can we gain the often invaluable benefits of the lessons to be learned from their lives.
These pages are written that our people may become the better acquainted with two among the most earnest missionaries sent to China by Southern Baptists. While it is unusual to write a memoir of the living, it will be evident to all who are conversant with these persons, Tarleton Perry Crawford and Martha Foster Crawford, that their aims, labors, joys, sorrows, hopes and sufferings for Christ's sake were so completely interwoven and identical as to render it quite impossible to write the history of the one without, more or less, that of the other. The former exchanged the cross for the crown in 1902: the latter, advanced in years, still lingers upon the shores of time and is continuing her life work in and around Taianfu, China.
Aside from the privilege of knowing these two servants of the blessed Master, it is a great pleasure to become acquainted with the stirring events and thrilling experiences which have been crowded into their lives. If we mistake not, the mere perusal of these narratives will prove more fascinating than any romance.
It is in the hope that the plain, unvarnished history of Dr. and Mrs. Crawford, taken apart from all controversy, may glorify God and edify His people, that the writer has consented to tell this story of their lives. But who could properly depict such lives, having never been on the field where they have been lived? Indeed, who could justly portray them, even though moving in the same scenes, and beholding personally the same panorama?
Nevertheless, it was eminently fitting that some one who loved and appreciated them, and as far as possible sympathized with their Christian heroism, should present a memorial of their consecrated lives. While there is absolute certainty that the recital will fall immensely below their just merits, the writer yet lays this meager contribution to missionary annals as a tribute to their memory on the altar of consecration.
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[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909, chapter 1; reprinted and reformatted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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