Inspiration from the past: Isobel Kuhn

Isobel Selina Millar was born in Toronto in 1901. Her parents were strong Christians but, while Isobel was at the University of British Columbia, one of her professors ridiculed her for blindly accepting the faith of her parents. This sent her into a period of questioning and uncertainty.

During the Roaring Twenties, Isobel was an attractive, popular university student, known for her dance moves and acting ability, but she was also quite distant from God. Fortunately, her mother’s prayers and a failed romance changed all that and she found peace with God. She later found herself living sacrificially in Asia, sharing the gospel, eventually becoming a writer of several missions books.

After reading about Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, she had a strong desire to serve in China. She was accepted by the China Inland Mission and sailed for China as a missionary in 1928. After a year, she met John Kuhn, whom she married. Together they faced many hardships, long separations, severe illnesses, war and death. 

From 1929 and 1934, she and John served in Yunnan in southwest China and then, later, in north-west China among the animistic Lisu people. In 1950, due to the conflict between the communists and nationalists, CIM workers fled China. Isobel returned to the United States, while John travelled to northern Thailand and discovered that the government, environment and people were very open to the gospel. At age 50, Isobel agreed to assist her husband there and ran a guest home for travelling missionaries.

They both served in Thailand from 1951 to 1954 and then, seemingly at the peak of her ministry, she learned that she had breast cancer. She was forced to return to America for medical treatment. During this time, she wrote five of her famous books. The Kuhn’s ministry in Asia left a long-lasting impact, which has enabled the church to grow substantially in the regions where they served.

Isobel Kuhn’s books are available from OMF Books. Email or phone 1-888-657-8010, ext. 713. Mention “HFA#67” to receive a 15% discount.

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