|To Ministerial Association, Dunnville,|
|5 FEB 194O|
| WILLIAM M. LEONARD
I trust you will forget me in this plain unvarnished tale of the oldest people of the world. These wonderful people had a wonderful civilization when the rest of the world were in a barbaric state. I cannot hope to deal with Chinese Philosophy, Literature, Poetry, Science, History, and Art. China has all of these but very few have been able to uncover these hidden treasures. Some few missionaries who have mastered their difficult language, learned to think in it, those who have broken thru Chinese reserve of the educated; these few can unfold the inner life of these people, that I am unable to do.
There are volumes of Chinese History that probably will never be translated, these are kept under strict guard, treated as sacred to the Celestial Empire, and no Foreigner is allowed to see them.
The ancient glory of China expresses itself in Ancestor Worship, and to a people who believe that the 'best ever' was produced by their ancestors, there is little or no hope of introducing anything new. Ancestor Worship is the curse of China, all progress is retarded, and will remain so, until this old blanket is thrown off.
After this preamble let me show you how the Chinese appear to a busy missionary as I came in touch with the common folk in the daily round of common work. Suppose I divide up my talk into four parts, and ask four questions, First, WHAT ARE THEY LIKE? Second, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO THEM? Third, WHAT DO THEY WANT? and Fourth, WHAT MUST WE DO?
1st. WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?
Four hundred million people, ninety per cent of whom cannot read, or write their own language. Majority a peace loving farming class, oppressed by about twenty five per cent who are military. Polygamy is practiced, the result over population, most of them hungry most of the time. The child death rate, about 80% of the children die before they are two years old. Ancestor worship stops progress, the cultured periods brought out beautiful things, Art, Architecture, Carving, Stone Sculpture, Books, Weaving, Painting, and Music. Then following such a period of perhaps hundreds of years, there would arise an ignorant usurper to power, he would kill off all the scholars, and technicians. Such a usurper would surround himself with a corrupt court, lust, and debauchery would be enthroned for long years. So Dynasty after Dynasty brought blessing or curse, wearing down everything beautiful, until those craftsmen who tried to make beautiful things were just copyists, making miserable imitations of what was once really artistic. The military governors terrorize the people, prevent the formation of reliable government. The plan of government adopted was handed down from the teaching of Confucius, a simple plan was that (a) responsibility for keeping the peace rested upon the head of each family, (b) A head over ten families, and (c) a Mayor, or Father, and Mother over all under his jurisdiction. The streets were divided by gates, and the head man of the street was responsible for any row, or disturbance in that section. Higher up were prefects, intendents of circuits. Then governors or viceroys, and over all was the exalted "SON of HEAVEN" the invisible one, who sat on the Dragon Throne. A good form of government when honestly administered.
The abuse of this old fashioned system was brought about by the Military Governors, who were just leaders of Bandits, ready for any deviltry that would yield the money for a big debauch. Looting, burning, killing, fighting, when one village or town was exhausted, they would march on to another, and so the people were kept in a state of terror all the time by fear of the soldiers.
You will readily understand how such a social condition became a ready soil to plant Russian Communism, this split them up into warring factions killing each other.
The Dragon Throne became impotent, ceased to function, then revolution, then Military Governors found Opium a rich source of income, money was needed for the armies of the War Lords, so this wicked traffic was given lease of life. The effect of this was terrible, I have seen a man in rags dying in the street gasping for more opium, I night describe this horrible thing, but I must not.
The majority of the women still practice foot-binding, but the day of that woman the professional foot binder is becoming a thing of the past, this cruel, stupid custom, was encouraged because it was believed that if a woman had large feet she would never get a husband. Our W.M.S Doctors could tell some revolting stories of bound feet, but enough said.
There is no home life in China as we know it, the most of the people live in the open, a house is looked upon merely as a shelter for man and beast, and largely both together. A compound will house a family or clan, it is built rectangular in shape, high walled, with two gates at one end, this quadrangle is roofed round the four walls leaving an open rectangle in the centre which is called the "Heavenly Well" to admit light, air, rain, and let out the smells. The head of the family lives at the upper end, in the best rooms, his wives, and members of his family live in the rooms nearer the gates, the servants occupying the meanest rooms right at the gates.
No song, no home beauty, no knowledge of healing or surgery, no sport, the women for the most part illiterate, never mingle with men at public functions. They travel in closed sedan chairs to visit with other women, they feast, play cards, gamble, and find solace in the opium pipe.
The home of the missionary is full of wonder, so clean, white linen, soft beds, strange table ware, table cloths, napkins, knives and forks, and the strange food the foreigner eats, indeed the missionary has to live inside a compound to keep the crowd outside, and the gateman keeps strict guard over the gate. The nice home of the missionary is a good example to the christian to copy and now many of the christian Chinese have homes patterned after the homes of the missionaries.
China is a country of vast wealth, most of the people are ignorant of it, Japan knows, and hence her ambition to keep the old Empire in her grip. However, Young China is waking up, and this invasion of Japan has united China more than ever she has been for thousands of years.
The Chinese are very religious, heathen, idolaters, but the corruption in their Temples, shows that their old rites and the power of their priesthood has lost its grip. Confucianism teaches the practice of virtue, but not the worship of any god. Taoism, is much the same, it teaches the practice of morality, without god, believes in magical arts, Buddhism brought over from India a strange no god religion, which is supposed to teach that, "The absolute release from the flesh is the chief good". Mohammedanisrn of course another religious belief of the Chinese but not very many that I saw there were of that cult. The most of the missionaries see the conditions produced by the doctrines of these sages, so they ignore them as far as they can. The wise missionary culls the best from each and all, it is wise not to antagonize the Celestial if you want to win him.
There are stories that might be told, showing how little faith they have in their idols, they are cruel to each other, they torture each other, they do not, trust each other, lying is a high art, it is not wrong to steal, but it is wrong to get caught.
The majority of the Chinese are still heathen, but those who find the liberty that comes from an indwelling Christ, become splendid christians. Yes, out of this ignorant low-grade humanity, there has come into our church veritable saints; willing to live and die for their master Christ.
Now for the second question,
"WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO THEM?"
We have burst upon them with our western civilization, our obscene moving pictures, cigarettes, whisky, machine guns. Our white men have gone in with all the pomposity of superiority complex. He has slapped the face of his cook if his breakfast bacon was under done, or he has kicked the Ricksha coolie to accelerate his speed. During the big war we hired 170000 coolies to watch us bespatter Europe with the white man's blood, we let them see the landscape strewn with broken bones and dead men. We taught them how to fight and they went back to China no longer scared of the white man. To our eternal disgrace we forced opium on the Chinese. History tells the story of how we got Hongkong, and the indemnity. America paid China an indemnity for the Boxer affair by bringing over Chinese students from each of the provinces to American Colleges for secular education.
These young fellow's learned the science of Mining, Engineering, Railroad Building, City-Planning, Shipping, Western Systems of Trade and Commerce, and plus to this they learned to copy the American style of living.
As I was traveling up the Yangtze in 1913 on a river steamer, I got into conversation with the ship's officers. They were amazed to think that I was going up into the wilds as a missionary, one of them said it was all wrong going into the interior to teach the Chinese, he bluntly declared that education was the Curse of China. I was much surprised at this outburst and asked for his reasons. He told me that the Chinese Student came back to his home village filled with conceit, despised his mother with her bound feet, and his brother with the hoe, lorded it over his home folks, was paraded with pride among his simple minded home folks, he would not work, he would live on the best, and when the little farm could not measure up to his newly acquired tastes he would leave home to become adviser to some Bandit Chief, or become a Military Officer. So this ship's officer claimed that students coming back to China brought with them their newly acquired knowledge for this purpose, therefore he substantiated his assertion that Education was the curse of China!! This was a new angle, I was much surprised and I had to admit he was right.
However, I assured him that the education that I was carrying into the interior was different, that plus to anything that I could teach the Chinese, was the fact I was a christian missionary, and my help for the native was not only secular education but to show how Christ would rebuild China for the Chinese.
The British American Tobacco Company used to try to fraternize with the missionaries in their homes, have their chair carriers dressed with jackets emblazoned with Chinese characters, copying as nearly as possible the characters of the 'YIN MEH HUEI' in order to make the Chinese think we approved of their Cigarettes, indeed, they would scatter cigarettes free to the boys on the street to create the appetite. This soon stopped, as we gave them no encouragement, we told them we're in China to lift the people up, not to drug them.
Referring again to moving pictures, our sex novel dramatized on the screen showing how we whites smoke, drink, and dance with half dressed women, and bedroom scenes. The Chinese came out of the movies over there laughing at us for showing what they hide.
The Chinese can remember that less than seventy years ago, the white man took thousands of Chinese to the Sugar Plantations, and Mines, as slaves using the whip. The Chinese know that they are not allowed into Canada unless the pay a heavy head tax which takes years to earn.
We all know how we treat the Chinaman here, we call him a Chink, we treat him with contempt, he does the meanest task quietly, always responds to our brotherly touch, but we have shut him off in Chinatown, we segregate him as if he were a leper.
Chinese christians converted love the missionary, and they think we must come from a wonderful country, they measure Canadians by the missionary. They have a great ambition to come here and see the land that sent them missionaries. They come for post-graduate work in our Canadian Colleges, they get their eyes open, find that all Canadians are not like the missionaries, they carry back home a strange story of how we live.
But despite all this that we have done to them, the Chinese christian bears no grudge, but welcomes the foreign missionary to his heart and home.
Now the third question,
"WHAT DO THEY WANT?"
Of course there is a difference between what they want and what they need; to me they seemed like children crying in the night with no other language but a cry.
Do they want the gospel? No!. The Chinese resent any suggestion that they are heathen, they think they are the Hub of the Earth. The name of their country suggests their thought, they call China, 'Jong Gweh' these two characters mean, Jong, the center, Gweh, country, the two together mean the center country.
They will assure you that they had a civilization when we were just Barbarians living in caves, they almost deify education and scholars are almost worshiped. To have a 'Shu T'sai' (A book Scholar) in the family or clan is a great honor, he has to do no work, just grow long nails (I have seen nails 3" long encased in leather to protect them) and use the brush pen to write.
This sharply divides the Chinese into two classes, they have a saying which announces this, 'Shang shi Shang, Hsia shi Hsia' meaning the high is high, and the low is low. This class distinction is accepted like a binding decree from the gods.
Just to illustrate this attitude, let me tell you an incident that will reveal in some measure what the Chinese in their native state want. A young missionary from Canada was trying to inspire a young Chinese student with the idea of self-help. The Canadian was telling him the story of his struggle to get a College Education, how he had to work in the summer to get enough money to pay his way thru College, he told the young Chinaman that he did all kinds of menial tasks, took care of horses, was a steward on a steamer, sold books, worked in the fields, and did all this to win his way.
During the telling of this story, he saw the Chinese Student regarding him with a sneer on his face, and when he had finished his story the Chinese Student said, "So in your country you were a coolie, and you come here to teach me?".
This will give you a unvarnished picture of the interior of the mind of this type of Chinese, here is a problem for the missionary, such a type certainly do not want the Gospel of Christ.
Another incident which will show more directly the opposition of this allegedly educated Celestial and show his temper towards the Gospel, I conceived the idea that I would reveal my Evangelistic type of mind by having printed on my department envelopes left-top-corner the words "Pray for China" 'Wei Jong Gweh Dao Gao'. This created a storm of protest in the Chengtu Post Office, they of course could read English. It was told me they said, "How dare this impudent Foreigner put such words on his envelopes, 'Pray for China', forsooth, let him go and pray for his own country, vulgar insulting guest of our country".
Still another incident to show how the lower class mind reacts to the Gospel. As Building Supt. I had big gangs of men to handle, it was difficult work, in my office drawing plans, translating to these different trades the Western Methods, teaching adults, the most of them unable to read or write their own language, offsetting their ancient style of architecture, and copying what was best in it, was a task that proved that I had a man's full time job.
Yet, I wanted to save the souls of these men, so at the morning period when these men stopped to smoke (This was a Chinese Workman's Custom) I had my Chinese Teacher, write on large sheets of paper some common hymns in Mandarin, got a long pointer, took my mandarin New Testament, went down to the Carpenter's Shop, taught these men to sing these hymns pointing to each character as I came to it, then read a short portion, and tried to preach in their own tongue, not very classic mandarin but I got it over clear, taking in all about ten minutes.
One morning later, the foremen of the different departments came into my office, stated that as all the work on the building was piece-work and that they did not love the doctrine, they wanted me to pay them for the TEN MINUTES they lost listening to me preaching the Gospel to them.
I was surprised, I asked them some questions, I said, "When any of you get sick, don't I send you to the hospital free of charge?" Oh yes, again I asked, "When the Soldiers want to carry you off to carry their loads, don't I hide you inside our compound to save you?" Oh yes, and soon the poor fellows lost face, were ashamed of themselves, went back to work, I heard no more of it. However, this showed they did not want the gospel, later ignored me so I had to stop this bit of extra work.
There is an element that are very keen to learn English, but they do not want the Gospel In English, they want to have the two languages so as to command good jobs with the government. The same thing with regard to the Y.M.C.A. work, this same element would fain cut out the 'C' in YMCA. But to meet this, our missionaries made it obligatory that if any wanted to study English they must do it thru the English Bible.
Another thing which shows this attitude was the registration of all schools by the government, this registration provided that the majority of the staff of any school must be Chinese. Now if the Chinese, were Christian that worked all right, but if not, then religion was cut out.
I am glad to say that this ban on the Gospel has been lifted, thanks to Generalissimo and Madame Giang Gai Shek, who started this wonderful NEW LIFE MOVEMENT.
You see, I have shown you the negative side, showing for the most part what the Chinese don't want, but what heathen nation can give any intelligent idea of what they want? They know they want something, but they must be taught what they NEED.
Now in the teeth of cruel invasion by the Japanese, they have come in closer union than ever before, and the fossilized ancestor worship is going by the board. The Chinese are changing, they are waking up from centuries of sleep, ancient pride is giving way to common sense, the erstwhile despised Gospel is proving the only panacea for old Cathay.
Finally, now the fourth question,
"WHAT MUST WE DO?"
In dealing with the heathen no matter how intelligent, we do not give them what they want, but study what they need, hasten to give them help in their extremity, this is what we must do.
We must do something to give them a square deal, now that they are fighting for their national life, not a war of aggression on Japan, take note, there are no Chinese planes sent over to drop bombs on Japan.
To our shame we have to confess that we Canadians are supplying Japan with scrap iron, nickel, and other materials for munitions to help the invader to crush this Old Empire when she is rising to new life. If our churches would dare to denounce this contemptible thing, we would help to save China, this is one thing we must do.
The salvation of China from Japan will be a powerful factor for World Peace, there is really no quarrel between Japan and China, China is defending herself against the Military Party of Japan, this Military party represents only 25% of the Japanese People, but they are in power.
Japan is in a frenzy because of the American refusal to renew their trade pact, Japan cannot reach the rich resources in China, she must get them elsewhere, failing that she must give up her invasion of China. What must we do? We must stand by to help the peaceful majority in both China and Japan to solve the problem of Asia in a mutual co-operation for the good of both.
The most of us cannot go and preach to these heathens abroad, indeed to some it may seem useless under the present stress of world affairs. Others may argue that we have the problem of home missions, might say, "Let us clean up our home heathenism before we tackle the reformation of the heathens abroad, Canada is no land of saints".
True, but experience shows that the best enthusiast for Foreign Work, is also an active worker in the Home Field. It is only the selfish who make this convenient excuse to do nothing.
We must do something, the world is growing smaller, every year we have new and startling demands upon us, from people and lands, that we used to think were too far off to bother us. We must do something if only in self-defense.
If a Christless Totalitarian Japan gets a free upper hand in Asia, then India, and Australia, and New Zealand would feel the real menace of a YELLOW PERIL. Therefore it is imperative that we exercise the utmost of our MISSIONARY POWER to save the situation ere it is too late. Save China for Christian Democracy and we will save the Eastern World.
Of course we may sit in smug complacency, and congratulate ourselves that these perils are too far off to touch us, but let us beware, the World is rocking, take note of how few white people there are in the human family. If ever there comes clash of black and white we will go under.
The Arabs of Palestine, the people of Abyssinia, the untouchables of India, natives of South Africa, the unrest in South America, are all presenting a serious problem, and we like Nero are playing our fiddles, while the creatures of God are suffering to the point of revolt.
The call of Christ is most urgent, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" should ring from every pulpit in the land. There never was a time in the history of our world when FOREIGN MISSIONARIES were more needed than they are now.