Kiangsi Mission (1917–1951)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: October 4, 2022

Introduction

The Kiangsi (江西区会) (later Jiangxi 江西省) Province was a part of the South China Mission in 1910.1 Later, it was placed under the North China Union Mission,2 and then during a re-organization in 1919 it was apportioned to the Central China Union Mission.3

In 1914 Du Shu Den, a canvasser, travelled from Hunan Province to sell single copies and annual subscriptions of Signs of the Times (Shi Djao Yueh Bao, 時兆月報). As a result of his work, several people accepted the Adventist message and became canvassers. During his visit in 1915 Arthur Selmon baptized a few more believers and organized a small church group at Nanchang (南昌). The canvassers were so successful in the southern city of Kanchow (now Ganzhou赣州) that the printing house had to send them boxes of back copies of the periodical when it ran out of the latest issues.4 Walter Gillis (Jiā Huádá, 嘉華達) was appointed to be the acting superintendent of the mission work in Kiangsi. He lived in the northerly city of Kiukiang (Jiujiang,晋江), but stayed for only a few months.5 It was a fragile beginning to the enterprise.

Mission Progress

When the mission was officially constituted in 1919 Orvie Gibson (Gé Dàoyáng, 葛道揚) located at Kiukiang where a group of believers lived. The established chapel at Nanchang and a new one at Kiukiang, together with three other stations, catered for a total of forty-five baptized members. Sabbath School attendance numbers were recorded as approximately 150. The Sabbath School meetings energized the groups in the infant years when the field was left much to itself.6

The number of baptized members rose steadily. At the end of 1922 the total was seventy.7 By 1925 it had risen to ninety-seven.8 At this time a new chapel at Kiuchiang was purchased and refurbished both as a worship venue and a suitable place for evangelistic crusades.9

Troubled war-time conditions followed. In 1925 the mission officials were trapped while visiting Nanchang. A bomb blew a large hole in the Nanchang chapel and injured two workers. While the church officials were absent from their headquarters at Kiuchiang the city was captured by hostile forces.10 The national evangelist, Liu Djung Gwang (Liǔ Zhǒngguǎng, 柳種廣) was imprisoned for a time but used the days in prison to share his faith, converting a fellow inmate and later baptizing him.11 Throughout Kiangsi thirteen mission workers and members were robbed and put to death by bandits who took advantage of the lawless situation.12 The mission’s southern outpost at Kanchow could not be visited by mission expatriates for three years.13 To alleviate the difficulties plans were made in 1928 to shift the mission headquarters to the more central city of Nanchang.14 The move was finalized in 1930.15 A general meeting of believers was held in Nanchang in September 1928.16

During the 1930s the upheavals in the land continued. Many areas were declared closed to Christian missions. Despite this fact record sales of Adventist literature were made in more peaceful regions of Kiangsi.17 Membership statistics fluctuated depending on whether the members had fled to safer places or lingered at home. At the close of 1931 four Adventist churches were functioning, and the baptized membership stood at 234.18 The following year there were five churches and 279 members.19 Figures peaked in 1934 with five churches and 313 members.20 In 1935 they dropped to 222 members.21 In 1937 there were three churches and 186 members.22 By 1939 a small recovery had taken place with a resumption of five operative churches and 199 members.23 At the end of the decade three elementary school teachers were employed and two national women were working among their kinsfolk.24 This was consistent with reports throughout the history of the mission. One mission leader noted that there were twenty million people in the province. He felt overwhelmed by the enormity of his gospel mandate, commenting, “We are really just starting a new work.”25

The ravages of war in the 1930s escalated the spread of disease, causing further misery to the people. For example, in 1939 Kiuchiang, which had an earlier population of seventy thousand, was then reduced to five thousand by cholera, dysentery, malaria and beriberi.26 The Second World War years were just as devastating. The Nanchang church was completely destroyed in the bombing and other stations were so severely damaged they could not be used for evangelistic crusades. Despite these conditions there were promising aspects to post-war reports. By 1948 the membership had edged back to 238 and five elementary schools were being conducted in addition to a junior academy catering for approximately twenty students.27 The last statistics, published in 1951, spoke of six churches open for services and the mission membership had risen to 349, surpassing the 1934 peak.28 These advances were cut short when the communist forces overran the country and mission activities were curtailed.

Directors of the Kiangsi Mission

Walter Gillis (Jiā Huádá, 嘉華達), acting 1917-1919; Orvie Gibson (Gé Dàoyáng, 葛道揚), 1919-1920; E. H. James (Jiǎn Mòshì, 簡墨士), 1920-1928; Liu Djung Gwang (Liǔ Zhǒngguǎng, 柳種廣), 1928-1935; Walter Strickland (史覺倫), 1935-1937; Marvin Loewen (Luó Wén, 羅文), 1937-1938; Jacob Frick (Fú Lǐkē, 福理科), 1938-1942; Carl Currie (Kē Eryì, 柯爾義), 1942-1945; G. T. Giang (Jiāng Cóngguāng, 姜從光), 1946-1947; Alva Appel (Ai Bǎoluó, 愛保羅), 1948-1949; Djang Dzen Hai (Zhāng Zhènhǎi張振海), 1949-1951.

Sources

“Anxious Days in Kiangsi Province.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1926.

Brewer, Nathan F. “Central China Union.” China Division Reporter, June/July 1931.

Brewer, Nathan F. “Travelling in Central China.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1928.

Brewer, Nathan F. “Visit to Kanchow, Kiangsi.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1928.

“Central China Union.” China Division Reporter, March 1948.

“Christian Activities in War-torn China,” China Division Reporter, November 15, 1939.

Du Shu Ren. “First Days of the Literature Ministry in Kiangsi.” China Division Reporter, December 1, 1940.

Evans, Irwin H. “The Council at Mokanshan, China.” ARH, December 1, 1910.

James, E.H. “Gathering of Believers in Kiangsi.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, November/December 1928.

James, E.H. “The Kiangsi Provincial Mission.” Asiatic Division Outlook, November 15, 1921.

Lee, Frederick. “Provincial Meetings in Central China.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1926.

Liu Djung Gwang. “The Kiangsi Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1929.

Miller, Harry W. “Central China Meeting.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1927.

“Property at Nanchang.” China Division Reporter, February 1931.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1917-1952.

“Statistical Summary.” China Division Reporter, June 1932, June 1923, March 1935, April 1936, August 1938, August 1, 1940.

“Statistical Summary.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 15, 1923, January 1926.

Warren, Merritt C. “Central China Union Report.” China Division Reporter, February 1938.

Notes

  1. Irwin H. Evans, “The Council at Mokanshan, China,” ARH, December 1, 1910, 10-11.

  2. E.g., “Kiangsi Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918), 158.

  3. Kiangsi Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 157.

  4. Du Shu Ren, “First Days of the Literature Ministry in Kiangsi,” China Division Reporter, December 1, 1940, 5.

  5. E. H. James, “The Kiangsi Provincial Mission,” Asiatic Division Outlook, November 15, 1921, 4-5.

  6. Ibid.

  7. “Statistical Summary,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 15, 1923, 9.

  8. “Statistical Summary,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1926, 7.

  9. Frederick Lee, “Provincial Meetings in Central China,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1926, 3.

  10. “Anxious Days in Kiangsi Province,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1926, 7.

  11. Liu Djung Gwang, “The Kiangsi Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1929, 7.

  12. Harry W. Miller, “Central China Meeting,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1927, 4-5.

  13. Nathan F. Brewer, “Visit to Kanchow, Kiangsi,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1928, 6.

  14. Nathan F. Brewer, “Travelling in Central China,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1928, 14.

  15. “Property at Nanchang,” China Division Reporter, February 1931, 8.

  16. E. H. James, “Gathering of Believers in Kiangsi,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, November/December 1928, 6.

  17. Nathan F. Brewer, “Central China Union,” China Division Reporter, June/July 1931, 2.

  18. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1932, 7.

  19. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1933, 8.

  20. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, March 1935, 12.

  21. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, April 1936, 11.

  22. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, August 1938, 10.

  23. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, August 1, 1940, 10.

  24. “Kiangsi Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1939), 106.

  25. Merritt C. Warren, “Central China Union Report,” China Division Reporter, February 1938, 3-4.

  26. “Christian Activities in War-torn China,” China Division Reporter, November 15, 1939, 3,6.

  27. “Central China Union,” China Division Reporter, March 1948, 12-13.

  28. “Kiangsi Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951), 103.

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Hook, Milton. "Kiangsi Mission (1917–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 04, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3HPV.

Hook, Milton. "Kiangsi Mission (1917–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 04, 2022. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3HPV.

Hook, Milton (2022, October 04). Kiangsi Mission (1917–1951). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3HPV.