Mission Research: Connecting People Today with Their Personal History

“Who influenced my grandfather’s spiritual journey?” That was the gist of the question asked by a Chinese national who contacted our colleagues in Australia. The old family photographs attached to an email included brief inscriptions of names and places written in Chinese and English. When asked “Can you tell me about these people?” the mission research team in Singapore began following the leads.

Photographs of Cyril Faulkner asnd Colin Tweddell with their families and the notes written at the back of the photographs

It was soon discerned that the photos were mainly of Cyril Faulkner and Colin Tweddell, two CIM members whose entries were quickly located in the CIM Registry of all members. The Registry indicated that, apart from having served in Jiangxi province in China, the Faulkners and Tweddells had other similarities. Both husbands grew up in Australia and wives were born in the United States. Though the four joined the Mission in different years, another research source—The Directories—showed that in the 1930’s both families ministered in the town where the grandfather of the enquirer had lived—Lungnan.

Lungnan believers during Christmas celebration  in 1938

Further research showed that selections of couples’ prayer letters—revealing aspects of their lives and ministries—were recorded in various editions of the CIM magazine China’s Millions.

The two couples served in China until 1951 when all foreign missionaries had to leave. They then relocated to share the good news of Jesus Christ in two of the New Fields*—Thailand and the Philippines. After finding out this much information and more, the research team was able to provide copies of the articles to the enquirer so that he could better know the stories behind his grandfather’s old photos.

*At the meeting of CIM leaders in February 1951 at Kalorama, Australia, it was agreed that God was leading the Mission to redeploy into other Asian countries. Survey teams were sent to several Asian countries and these initial surveys established priorities of location of ministry that became known as  New Fields.

Telling these stories gives God the glory.

Read “God’s Mission to the Lisu”

​​​​​​​The article “God’s Mission to the Lisu” is an example of historical research responding to a request from Lisu church leaders for a more complete history of God’s work among their people.

The article presents an overview of the many CIM missionaries who served the Lisu church in China before 1952.

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