Liao Chi Mission (1918–1950)

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: September 28, 2022

This brief essay covers the history of the Seventh-day Adventist mission in Kirin Province (now Jilin Province 吉林省), China. The entity was initially named the Kirin Mission, a subdivision of the Manchurian Mission. In 1939 the name was changed to the Central Manchuria Mission, and after the Second World War it was renamed the Liao Chi Mission.

Early Endeavors

Ole and Anna Grundset (葛倫散Gé Lúnsàn) arrived from America in 1913, spending twelve months learning the language and then going north to establish their headquarters at Mukden (now Shenyang 沈阳), Liaoning Province. It was not long before requests for a missionary came from further north in Kirin Province. Ole responded by sending a national evangelist, Feng She Sen (馮得勝 Féng Déshèng), to pioneer the territory. He settled at Changchun (长春) in July 1915. A few weeks later Bernard Petersen joined him and hired a chapel where Feng began a public crusade.1 In 1917 it was reported that a second mission station was functioning in Kirin.2 John Gjording (戈而定 Gē érdìng), a Danish missionary, also reported that six individuals were baptized in Kirin in 1917, two of them joining him to canvass the province from the border with Korea in the east to beyond the Mongolian border in the west.3

Mission Organization and Progress

Kirin Mission was officially organized in 19184 with only one missionary couple and a few baptized members.5 Changchun continued to be the mission headquarters, becoming the usual venue for colporteur training institutes and mission workers’ meetings because of its centrality in Manchuria.6

The warlords of Kirin and Fengtien Provinces fought against each other during 1919 and 1920, making travel and evangelism hazardous. When soldiers vacated an area, then bandits took advantage and assumed control. One unfortunate missionary of the Presbyterian Mission in Changchun was robbed and beaten to death.7 Calm returned in 1921, allowing evangelistic crusades to go ahead.8 The reported baptized membership in 1922 numbered approximately fifty, spread among three different chapels. Canvassers were active, selling the Chinese version of Signs of the Times and Health and Longevity.9 The mid-1920s were described as “uphill work,” largely because it was difficult to find enough national assistants.10 By the end of 1926 the membership had inched to 76 and the attendees at four different Sabbath Schools totaled 107.11 In 1928 an elementary school was begun with forty students in Changchun.12

War conditions returned to Manchuria in 1931, Changchun being the scene of bitter fighting. Despite the situation national colporteurs ventured out to sell Hope of the World and did remarkably well.13 These intrepid men were known to carry their bicycles in winter through heavy snow and over icy mountains in order to reach isolated villages.14 Two were imprisoned near the Siberian border on the suspicion that they were communists, but mission leaders hurried to the office of the military police and secured their release.15

Membership reached 186 at the close of 1933.16 In the summer of 1934 Frederick Lee conducted a major crusade in Changchun. Almost every night for six weeks the tent he pitched in the mission compound was filled to capacity. It seated an audience of 450, composed of merchants, bankers, editors, teachers, factory workers, chefs, a judge, and a prosperous fortune-teller.17

Colporteurs and evangelists had worked the territory along the Chinese-Eastern Railway from Changchun to Harbin in Heilungkiang (now 黑龙江 Heilongjiang) Province. In 1935 responsibility for this area was transferred from the Kirin Mission to the Heilungkiang Mission further north, leaving Kirin Mission with three organized churches and church schools and another smaller company of believers.18 Naturally, the membership total was reduced, but by 1939 it had risen again, numbering 184.19

National Leadership

During the Second World War years, the territory of Kirin Mission became known as the Central Manchuria Mission, it being the central province of Manchuria. National leaders carried responsibility. Statistics improved slightly with the baptized membership rising to 219 in 1943.20 National men continued the leadership role in the post-War years. The entity was then renamed the Liao Chi Mission. Last statistics prior to the communist takeover, which represented 1949 numbers, show that the membership had increased to 270 members among six churches and six companies.21 The trend was encouraging, but when taken in the context of a population numbering millions, then the harvest after three decades of planting and watering was arguably meager.

Mission Directors

Ole J. Grundset 葛倫散 (Gé Lúnsàn) 1918-1921; Roy M. Cossentine 甘盛典 (Gān Shèngdiǎn) 1921-1923; Frederick M. Larsen 來爾遜 (Lái ěrxùn) 1923-1928; Nils Dahlsten 德士廷 (Dé Shìtíng) 1928-1934; Giang Tsung Gwang 姜從光 (Jiāng Cóngguāng) 1934 to 1935; Raymond F. Cottrell 康盛德 (Kāng Shèngdé) 1935-1941; Giang Tsung Gwang (1941-1946), Chang Chao Lin 張肇林 (Zhāng Zhàolín) 1947; Hsu T. C. 徐棠清 (Xú Tángqīng) 1948-1950.

Sources

Cossentine, Roy M. “Progress in Kirin Mission.” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1922.

Cottrell, Raymond. “Kirin Mission Report for 1936.” China Division Reporter, August/September 1937.

Dahlsten, Nils. “The Kirin Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1929.

Evans, Irwin H. “Labor Under Difficulties.” ARH, March 10, 1921.

Giang Tsung Kwang. “The Kirin Mission.” China Division Reporter, June 1935.

Gjording, John G. “The Literature Work in Manchuria-Parts 1 and 2.” Asiatic Division Outlook, January 15, February 1, 1918.

Grundset, Ole J. “What Hath God Wrought.” Asiatic Division Mission News, November 15, 1915.

Lee, Frederick. “Evangelistic Effort at Changchun.” China Division Reporter, September-November 1934.

Oss, John. “Manchurian Union Convention and Colporteur Institute.” China Division Reporter, April 1937.

Oss, John. “The Publishing Dept.-1931.” China Division Reporter, May 1932.

Petersen, Bernard. “Manchuria.” Asiatic Division Outlook, April-June 1917.

Petersen, Bernard. “Manchuria.” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 15, 1920.

Petersen, Bernard. “Meetings in Manchuria.” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1921.

Petersen, Bernard. “The Kirin Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1926.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1919-1950.

“Statistical Summary.” China Division Reporter, June 1934, August 1940.

“Statistical Summary.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1927.

Notes

  1. Ole J. Grundset, “What Hath God Wrought,” Asiatic Division Mission News, November 15, 1915, 2.

  2. Bernard Petersen, “Manchuria,” Asiatic Division Outlook, April-June 1917, 36-37.

  3. John G. Gjording, “The Literature Work in Manchuria-Parts 1 and 2,” Asiatic Division Outlook, January 15, 1918, 7-8; February 1, 1918, 3-4.

  4. “Central Manchuria Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), 110.

  5. “Kirin Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 168.

  6. Bernard Petersen, “Manchuria,” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 15, 1920, 3-4.

  7. Irwin H. Evans, “Labor Under Difficulties,” ARH, March 10, 1921, 7-16.

  8. Bernard Petersen, “Meetings in Manchuria,” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1921, 4.

  9. Roy M. Cossentine, “Progress in Kirin Mission,” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1922, 3.

  10. Bernard Petersen, “The Kirin Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1926, 5.

  11. “Statistical Summary,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1927, 9.

  12. Nils Dahlsten, “The Kirin Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1929, 9.

  13. John Oss, “The Publishing Dept.-1931,” China Division Reporter, May 1932, 8-9.

  14. John Oss, “Manchurian Union Convention and Colporteur Institute,” China Division Reporter, April 1937, 3.

  15. Raymond Cottrell, “Kirin Mission Report for 1936,” China Division Reporter, August/September 1937, 8-10.

  16. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1934, 12.

  17. Frederick Lee, “Evangelistic Effort in Changchun,” China Division Reporter, September-November 1934, 4.

  18. Giang Tsung Kwang, “The Kirin Mission,” China Division Reporter, June 1935, 18.

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

  20. “Central Manchuria Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1943), 90-91.

  21. “Liao Chi Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and herald Publishing Association, 1950), 102.

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Hook, Milton. "Liao Chi Mission (1918–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 28, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HQ5.

Hook, Milton. "Liao Chi Mission (1918–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 28, 2022. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HQ5.

Hook, Milton (2022, September 28). Liao Chi Mission (1918–1950). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9HQ5.