Chinghai Mission (1933–1942)

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: April 20, 2022

The Chinghai (later Qinghai) Mission, 青海区会, was a component of the Northwest China Union Mission and encompassed all the territory in Qinghai province.1 It was largely inhabited by friendly nomadic Tibetans, and the road to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, led through their grazing lands and mountains. It was called Kokonor by the Tibetans and Chinghai by the Chinese. China had assumed control of Kokonor in accordance with its policy of expansion.2

Dr. Harry Miller and Elder Clarence Crisler made an exploratory trip through the provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, and Qinghai in late 1931, noticing that poverty and austere living conditions were prevalent everywhere. They were encouraged by the kind reception they received and surprised to find many Tibetans could read and were keen to accept their Christian literature.3

Buoyed by rosy prospects for introducing the gospel to the Tibetans, and foreseeing a direct path to their capital, the Chinghai Mission was inaugurated in 1933 with Elder Chen Wen Shio 陳文學 (Chén Wénxué) as director and secretary-treasurer. Three other nationals were chosen to assist him. The headquarters was located at the provincial capital, Sining (西宁市or Xining).4

In 1934 an itinerant evangelist, Wu Shao Siu, recounted his crusades of the past 18 months. Using his base in Shaanxi province, he had preached in the provinces of Ningxia, Hunan, Fujian, and Chinghai. He reported the first breakthrough made in Chinghai province, a crusade in the capital, Xining, where he had organized a church group of eight baptized members.5 Significantly, some of the earliest converts were those who had received literature from colporteurs Bai Jinjian and Djeng Hsiang-pu, who earlier had lost their lives in Xinjiang province.6

In 1936 Elder James H. Shultz 舒雅各and his family transferred from Chone and made Xining their headquarters for work among the Tibetans.7 The following year there was political unrest in the area caused by marauding communist soldiers. Government authorities ordered all expatriates to leave for their own safety, but the mission folk asked for an exemption and received permission to transform their compound into an army hospital. Seventy government soldiers were treated, only one losing his life and that by typhoid fever. The government later donated money to the mission as a token of their appreciation.8

An exploratory trip was made westward to Chinghai Lake in 1939, and nomadic clans listened eagerly to explanations of the Scriptures;9 but the only way to capitalize on these advances was to live among the people and move when they moved to greener pastures. In the years 1933 through 1940, two churches were established in Qinghai province, with a total baptized membership of 60.10 James Shultz then returned to Chone to supervise the work of the Chinghai Mission.11

The onset of the Second World War made it increasingly difficult to continue with mission activities in China. The last time the Chinghai Mission was listed as a functioning entity was in 1942, with Elder Claude B. Miller 米樂邇 serving as the acting director. The statistics had stabilized at two churches, three companies, and 62 baptized members.12 In wartime, mission authorities united Gansu (or Kansu) province with Qinghai (or Chinghai) province to form a new entity attached to the Kanching Mission with headquarters at Lanzhou, Gansu.13

Directors of Chinghai Mission

Chen Wen Shio 陳文學 (Chén Wénxué) (1933-1936); James H. Shultz 舒雅各 (1936-1941); C. B. Miller米樂邇 (1941-1942, acting director); No one listed in 1943.

Sources

“Brother J. H. Shultz and family…” China Division Reporter, November 1936.

C[risler], C. C. “The Tibetans of Kokonor.” China Division Reporter, December 1932.

Davies, Leslie H. “Northwest China Union Report for 1936.” China Division Reporter, June/July 1937.

Graham, H. L. “Entering New Territory.” China Division Reporter, February 1933.

Miller, Harry W. “Simplicity in Love.” China Division Reporter, May 1932.

“Opportunities in Chinghai.” China Division Reporter, January 15, 1940.

Oss, John. “The Kansu, Chinghai, and Ninghsia Meeting.” China Division Reporter, November/December 1935.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1933-1944.

Wu Shao Siu. “The Evangelistic Work in the Northwest.” China Division Reporter, March 1934.

Notes

  1. “Chinghai Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1934), 109.

  2. H. L. Graham, “Entering New Territory,” China Division Reporter, February 1933, 3.

  3. Harry W. Miller, “Simplicity in Love,” China Division Reporter, May 1932, 1; [Clarence C.] C[risler], “The Tibetans of Kokonor,” China Division Reporter, December 1932, 7.

  4. “Chinghai Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1934), 109.

  5. Wu Shao Siu, “The Evangelistic Work in the Northwest,” China Division Reporter, March 1934, 6.

  6. John Oss, “The Kansu, Chinghai, and Ninghsia Provincial Meeting,” China Division Reporter, November/December 1935.

  7. “Brother J. H. Shultz and family…” China Division Reporter, November 1936, 7.

  8. Leslie H. Davies, “Northwest China Union Report for 1936,” China Division Reporter, June/July 1937, 22-23.

  9. “Opportunities in Chinghai,” China Division Reporter, January 15, 1940, 7.

  10. “Chinghai Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), 115.

  11. “Chinghai Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941), 115-116.

  12. “Chinghai Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1942), 86.

  13. “Kanching Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1944), 94.

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Hook, Milton. "Chinghai Mission (1933–1942)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 20, 2022. Accessed November 24, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HPN.

Hook, Milton. "Chinghai Mission (1933–1942)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 20, 2022. Date of access November 24, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HPN.

Hook, Milton (2022, April 20). Chinghai Mission (1933–1942). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved November 24, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HPN.