This article from China’s Millions (April 1877) describes the CIM’s plan to move into the nine inland provinces lacking missionary witness. The journeys made by these young men covered thousands of miles. Traveling by foot, horseback, and boat, they faced danger from the terrain, bandits, and illness. More details of these amazing journeys can be found in A. J. Broomhall, Assault on the Nine, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century (Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton and OMF, 1988).
PLAN OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE CHINA INLAND MISSION
The study of the Acts of the Apostles leads to the conclusion that a plan of missionary operations, somewhat like that adopted by them, would prove the most effective wherever the needy territories are large, and the labourers are few. In China we might mass our missionaries; but the early missionaries appear rather to have scattered themselves. They visited important centres, usually in twos and threes, stayed there only long enough to commence a work, and then trusted much to the keeping of God, and to such help as could be afforded by epistles and occasional visits for its further progress. They had advantages which we do not possess in China; the godly Jews and proselytes already acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures, who were found everywhere-when converted soon became able to lead and instruct the converts from among the heathen. We may therefore anticipate the necessity of a somewhat prolonged residence in our districts, for the purpose of instructing in the Word of God those who may be converted. Still, the general principle, if a true one, should be kept in mind. Our desire, therefore, is:
First, to send two missionaries with two native converts to each unevangelized province of China, who may begin by itinerating through the province, and gathering believers, as the Lord enables them; locating themselves for a period of years in some important centre (say the capital of the province if practicable) when He gives an open door.
Next, with the aid of converted natives of the province, to extend the work to the capitals of the circuits, then to prefectural cities, and subsequently to the county cities, from which it may easily be carried to the more important towns and villages of the county itself.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLAN
I. LOCALIZED WORK
Our missionaries cannot go into distant provinces without knowledge of the language, customs, habits, &c. of the people; and those who will become native assistants need, in the first instance converting, and then instructing; and require to show themselves possessed of gifts and of suitable spirit for such work.
Commencing from the basis of Ning-po, where God had already used us in gathering a church, we began our operations as a mission by occupying the capital of the province, Hangchau, for a few years. Thence we extended our work to the capitals of the four circuits into which the province is divided; and have since sought to occupy as many of the prefectural and county cities as we have been able. In other words, we have endeavoured to gain experience and suitable labourers by carrying out among the twenty-eight millions of Cheh-kiang (the province to which God first called us) the plan which we wished to see worked in each of the others.
From that province, again, we extended our operations to Kiang-su, to the (then) wholly unoccupied province of Gan-hwuy, and also to stations in Kiang-si and Hu-peh, as bases for further operations in the regions beyond. We have gradually gathered around us a number of native Christians, and a staff of seventy six native assistants, by whose instrumentality mainly we are carrying on work in fifty-two stations-most of them important centres, and most of them occupied by our mission alone.
II. FURTHER EXTENSION
The preliminary operations of the mission having reached the stage of development mentioned in the above extract, the time appeared to have come for extending the work to the nine unevangelized provinces shown in the following table:
Men and means were therefore asked of God, and were given by Him. Mr. M. Henry Taylor set out on his first journey to Ho-nan (River-south province) in the beginning of April, 1875. Messrs. Stevenson and Soltau left for Burmah (with the hope of ultimately reaching Yun–nan) about the middle of the same month. And Mr. Judd first visited Hu-nan (South-Lake province) in June. Bhamo was reached by Messrs. Stevenson and Soltau on October 3rd, 1875. By January, 1876, they had obtained a site for building; and ere the house was quite finished, they were joined by Dr. and Mrs. Harvey and Mr. Adams. In August, 1876, Messrs. Baller and King first set out for Shen-si (West-passes); one man has professed to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and has been baptised; the first-fruits of this journey. Mr. Budd accompanied Mr. King on his second journey to this province. About the middle of October, Messrs. Turner and James left for Shan-si (West Hills), and a few days later Messrs. Easton and Parker left for Kan-suh. In December 1876, Messrs. Cameron and Nicoll left for I-chang, en route for Si–chuen (Four-streams); and in January, 1877, Messrs. Judd and Broumton left for the Kwei-chau province (Noble-land). We hope and trust that before the year terminate, Gospel work may have begun in the only two remaining provinces of this vast and needy land.
Article taken from China’s Millions (April 1877): 44, 46, https://archive.org/details/chinasmillions1877chin (accessed 14 November 2019).
The journeys across the inland provinces were made by pioneers, most of whom were men who came to be known as the Eighteen that were given in answer to the prayer appeal in January 1875.
The Prayer for the Eighteen
It was the point at which the tide of all mission to China turned. Highlights such as the Cambridge Seven have blinded us to this more significant event. Taking place in the shadows of personal weakness and public indifference, a movement began which quickly led to the gospel reaching the far corners of China.
George Clarke—Pioneer in Guizhou and Yunnan
Many would have considered George Clarke as unlikely missionary material. But he became a fluent Chinese speaker, an indefatigable pioneer, and a leader whom Hudson Taylor and many others appreciated. From 1875 to 1888, George Clarke travelled over 20,000 miles through 12 provinces. He persevered in pioneering work despite adversity and sorrow. What enabled him to stay the course in circumstances that would have caused others to give up?