Missionaries in China engaged in a fascinating variety of occupations in their quest to make converts. The portraits of the six missionaries presented here attest to the astonishing range of their evangelistic ingenuity. From the nineteenth century pioneer Karl Gutzlaff to the twentieth century woman medical doctor Alie Gale, missionaries toiled in a wide range of endeavors as they sought to spread the word of Christianity among the Chinese.
Jessie G. Lutz’s (Rutgers University, Emeritus) essay on Karl Gutzlaff details his attempts to use Chinese evangelists to spread the Christian message — a technique criticized by his contemporaries who believed his Chinese employees had insufficient knowledge of Christianity to be effective and, worse, did not work but eagerly accepted their salaries.
Jost Zetzsche’s (independent scholar) account of Absalom Sydenstricker and his work on translating the Bible into Chinese offers a view of the difficulties the scholar had rendering the Scripture into Chinese but also in reconciling, or failing to reconcile, the personal differences between the Chinese and the Westerners.
Kathleen Lodwick’s work on James Gilmour gives a glimpse into the life of this adventuring missionary who labored twenty long years in Mongolia without converting a single Mongolian but who did write two books on Mongolia — books that have endured owing to their engaging descriptions of the people and the land of that remote region.
W.K. Cheng’s chapter on John Macgowan reveals that, unlike many missionaries who struggled with the moral ambivalence of their presence in China and Western expansionism, Macgowan uninhibitedly affirmed the intimacy between Mission and Empire in the thirteen major works he wrote on China, Chinese life, thought, religious beliefs, and customs.
Cristina Zaccarini (Adelphi University) relates the work of Alie Gale, M.D., an American woman who was not formally appointed as a missionary but married to one. Gale not only organized and ran her own hospitals but she made significant contributions to the field of pubic health in China.
Finally, Linda Benson’s (Oakland University) account of Alice Mildred Cable tells of an independently financed member of the China Inland Mission whose early career was overshadowed by her later venture, with two women colleagues, into China’s remote Northwest where they traveled for many years preaching in villages and distributing Christian tracts.