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ព័ត៌មាននិងរឿងផ្សេងៗ

“Pioneer CIM Medical Missionary or Communist Martyr? The Unusual Story of an Influential Chinese Christian Dr. Gao Jincheng

Ma Tianji

Born in mainland China, Ma Tianji (馬天濟) relocated to Germany during his formative years. After completing his university education in science, he received an M. Th. in Evangelical Theology from FTH Giessen, Germany. Since 2019, Tianji has been an integral part of the Beyond Borders Initiative of OMF. He is the inaugural chairman at the Research Foundation for Religion and Culture in Giessen and directs the East Asia Forum within this organization. Concurrently, Tianji contributes to academia as a visiting lecturer at the Lutheran Seminary in Taiwan.

Mission Round Table 18:3 (Oct-Dec 2023): 34-39

To read articles in this edition, visit this post on Mission Round Table 18:3.

1.      Introduction

Gao Jincheng (高金城), also known as Kao Gin-cheng[1] and Gao Guting,[2] was, according to numerous CIM reports, a pioneer of medical mission work in early twentieth-century China, including the region of what is now Gansu Province. Although not much detailed information is available about his life, we can reconstruct some important aspects of his life and missionary work. His uniqueness can be expressed in many ways. (1) His missionary activities, spanning several decades, creatively and responsibly, combined medical care for people with the spread of the gospel. (2) Interest in Gao arises from his high social influence, which contributed to the rescue of missionaries in some instances. (3) Gao’s life story has been related from the perspective of the Communist Party of China (CPC), even though the accuracy of this version is far from certain. Obviously, his life has been stylized over time in certain narratives, the degree of authenticity of which needs to be verified. This is linked to some biographical inconsistencies that need to be clarified. A look at the existing literature in the media and research can reveal the essential portrait of Gao and the controversial dimension of his story.

2.      Sources and previous research

In order to construct a reliable historical account of Gao, independent sources are imperative. Both Christian and secular sources, especially those from the latter, including the Communist Party of China (CPC), must be taken into consideration. Among the most significant Christian sources detailing Gao’s life and service as a medical evangelist are reports in the China Inland Mission (CIM) periodical China’s Millions from the 1920s and 1930s.[3] These include, notably, Frank Houghton’s memorial volume for George King, a friend and close associate of Gao, as well as documentation by CIM missionaries Mildred Cable and Francesca L. French, derived from long-term personal interactions with Dr. Kao, his family, and friends.[4]

On the secular side, it is noteworthy that a memorial museum honoring the (Communist) “Martyr Gao Jincheng” was established in Zhangye in 2010.[5] A brochure from the museum, reaching over a hundred pages, contains not only a life account of Gao from the CPC’s perspective but also various testimonies from friends and family members about him.[6]

Scholars Lauren Pfister and Liu Jihua conducted an in-depth investigation into Gao’s life in collaboration with Lanzhou University, focusing on Chinese Christians and communities in Northwest China during the first four decades of the twentieth century.[7] Their findings are documented in an essay included in the volume Shaping Christianity in Greater China: Indigenous Christians in Focus and clarify some controversial dimensions of Gao’s life, particularly his still unresolved disappearance in 1938, an event that from the Communist perspective has led to him being declared a heroic martyr. A notable merit of their study is the acquisition of additional information from Gao’s living descendants through email correspondence, which adds to existing public documentation. For instance, Gao’s religious activities and devotional habits were detailed by his youngest son, Gao Shijie (高士傑), providing a vivid picture of Gao’s spiritual life.[8]

This present work builds upon the essay by Pfister and Liu, but incorporates additional, more recent sources. Overall, the focus of this work centers more on Gao’s development regarding his Christian faith and his missionary ministry in connection with CIM. A second article will analyze some controversial aspects of Gao’s life to elucidate the problematic facets of narrative constructions from both Christian and Communist interpreters. It is intended to show that a one-dimensional heroization tends to distort Gao’s life story, not only losing sight of the complex historical context in which he lived, but also obscuring the breadth of his work and how it has inspired others.

CIM Hospital at Kaifeng, photographed by G. W. Guinness. From Geraldine Taylor, Guinness of Honan (London: CIM, 1930), 208.

3.      Life journey and ministry

3.1. Childhood and first encounters with the Christian faith

Gao Jincheng was likely born around 1888[9] in a village near Kaifeng in Henan province, in impoverished circumstances. Few biographical details are known about his childhood.[10] According to Cable and French, he had his first encounter with the Christian faith at the age of seven when he saw a Western missionary preaching on the street.

His first introduction to the Westerner, and to the Faith which he fearlessly preaches, was at a village fair, when, at the close of a solemn discourse, the hearers were requested to close their eyes, while prayer was offered on their behalf. With characteristic quick wittedness, little Kin Cheng (for such is his first name) while appearing to cover his face with his hands, in reality converted his fingers into spy-glasses, the better to enable him to detect any suspicious act on the part of the strange man, who was, doubtless, using this means to take some nefarious advantage over his audience![11]

From a young age, Gao had to contribute to his family’s livelihood, so he initially worked as a laborer in an evangelical church. According to Christian sources, Gao, at the age of 16, met the CIM missionary couple, Edward G. and Jane E. Bevis (畢斐然 and 馬素芬), who offered him a job as a household servant.[12] The couple quickly recognized Gao’s talent and diligence and sent him to a school established by the CIM to receive a basic education.

According to Wong, an extraordinary encounter left a deep impression on Gao. In May 1905, a series of guests visited the Bevis’s home, one of whom had a long pigtail. It was none other than Hudson Taylor, the founder of the CIM.[13] Even after a long time, Gao remembered this personal encounter well, stating that he was deeply moved by Taylor’s general demeanor and gentleness. Shortly afterward, under Bevis’s guidance, Gao entrusted his life to Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. These events laid the foundation for his future work, in which he constantly sought God’s help and guidance.

3.2. Medical education and the beginning of his missionary work

Front row from left: Gao, Dr. Guinness, Dr. Carr, with other students. From Taylor, Guinness of Honan, 229.

In Gao’s hometown of Kaifeng, hundreds of patients had been treated by the medical missionaries in 1904. The reputation of the missionary medical clinic spread rapidly to the surrounding villages. The high demand led Dr. G. Whitfield Guinness (金純仁) to consider purchasing a plot of land and building a new hospital using funds collected in England.[14] During this period of rebuilding, Dr. Guinness’s colleague, Dr. Sidney H. Carr (柯維則), who was busy with his own work, was looking for a new medical student to serve as an assistant. He chose Gao, who had apparently made a good impression on him with his diligence and talent. The medical training would last twelve years, including a seven-year study program with numerous medical examinations and a five-year period of hospital assistance. With great determination, young Gao left his home to follow Dr. Carr in his medical work. The valuable experiences gained during his training opened new perspectives for Gao and provided him with the opportunity to acquire medical knowledge and skills that he could later apply in his missionary service.[15]

Dr. Guinness with the three first student assistants; Gao is leftmost. From Taylor, Guinness of Honan, 200.

The official reopening of the Kaifeng Gospel Hospital took place in January 1906. At that time, the staff consisted only of Dr. Carr, Dr. Guinness, and several medical students, including Gao. In the first year alone, several thousand patients were treated and approximately 300 surgeries performed. Before the completion of the seven-year program, Gao successfully passed all the required medical examinations through diligent and conscientious study, and, in 1911, he joined the hospital as an assistant physician. Gao’s growth in medical knowledge and academic success went hand in hand with his spiritual growth. He passionately studied the Bible and was deeply moved by the gospel, which he desired to share with others in love and humility.[16]

3.3. The friendship with George King and the call to a new ministry in Lanzhou

As early as the summer of 1911, Gao Jincheng met Dr. George E. King (金品三), a Scottish medical missionary of roughly the same age who had been born in China to missionary parents. Gao and King quickly formed a lifelong friendship. The two shared similar visions and ideals: they valued medicine, had a strong missionary calling, and enjoyed engaging in evangelism. When King eventually transferred to the Wilson Memorial Hospital in Pingyang, Shanxi, in March 1912, Gao accompanied him.[17]

In 1915, George King founded the Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, Gansu. He asked his friend Gao to join the new medical team, as there was an urgent need for medical personnel, especially a Chinese doctor. Gao had already passed all his clinical medicine examinations, officially becoming a recognized physician with unlimited career prospects. Initially, Gao hesitated in his decision, though as Houghton describes it, he subsequently saw King’s invitation as a Macedonian call (cf. Acts 16:9–10).

God gave him [King] another gift of incalculable worth—a trained Chinese colleague, and one whose qualities as doctor and evangelist he had already proved, namely, the Dr. Kao who had accompanied him to Pingyang three years before … and had since been giving valuable assistance there. Kao was once more on the staff at Kaifeng, and King laid the claims of Kansu before him. Was he to settle down to medical work—yes, and Christian work—in his native province of Honan, to accept, perhaps, some official appointment, or to sacrifice the opportunities which he had won by sheer merit and face the hardships of life in far-off Kansu? It was a call to definite missionary work, and one evening, after King had spoken to him, another Voice, more tender and more insistent, spoke so clearly that only one response was possible if he craved for God’s best.[18]

George King. From Frank Houghton, George King: Medical Evangelist (London: CIM, 1930), frontispiece.

At the end of 1915, he set off with his wife and their two daughters for his new position in the remote area. Together with King and Dr. Robert C. Parry (巴本全), Gao was involved in the training of medical students and led them to nearby and distant locations for evangelistic purposes.[19] In one of the major cities in the region, Liangzhou (now Wuwei City)—the furthest mission station in northwest China under CIM—Gao frequently assisted W. M. Belcher (卜存仁) and his wife in their evangelistic work.[20] Over time, Gao traversed the Hexi Corridor, visiting cities and villages on the border of China. It is reported that Gao and King extended their itinerant medical evangelistic works into areas around Lanzhou, contacting many members of ethnic groups in that vast region. King was particularly fascinated by the diverse Muslim communities in the region, while Gao found engaging with Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhists uniquely challenging and intriguing.[21]

3.4. Evangelistic work and church planting in Ganzhou

In 1919, when the first students completed their medical education at the Borden Medical School and were to be sent to various locations for medical missionary work, Gao took the initiative and requested to be sent to Ganzhou (now Zhangye, Gansu) to advance the medical and evangelistic work there.[22] Gao collaborated with a small group of Chinese Christians to establish the economic and institutional foundation for a new church. Leveraging his medical skills to assist those in need, he quickly coordinated efforts with others to acquire land. Over the next few years, they successfully built a distinct church community, while Gao emerged as a widely recognized and highly trusted Christian leader, community pastor, and practicing doctor. Reporting on his work in Ganzhou, Houghton said: “There was Dr. Kao, King’s first colleague at Lanchow, laying deep the foundation of an indigenous church at Kanchow and beyond.”[23] Gao was similarly praised in a 1925 report by King: “There to the north-west runs the great old road to Turkestan, and Persia, and Europe, along which the gospel is spreading now like a prairie fire, from the living Church in Kanchow.”[24]

The beginning of missionary work in Ganzhou was a particularly challenging time for Gao. Initially, he had to live in a cheap inn where he treated patients and preached the gospel. While his excellent medical skills soon earned him a good reputation, his sermons often encountered resistance and even persecution.[25] Despite the initial difficulties and all the disappointments, Gao remained persistent in his work. In the first year, only a few people came to faith, but over time, the number of believers grew to thirty. Worship services were held in the house he rented. In 1921, Mrs. Geraldine Taylor arrived in Ganzhou, met Gao, and witnessed the growth of the church. In her book The Call of China’s Great North-west; or, Kansu and Beyond, she expressed her enthusiasm for the ministry in Ganzhou:

Perhaps the most encouraging of these developments has been that of independent Chinese missionary effort. It is a new thing in Kansu to have the Gospel carried far afield by Chinese Christians, unpaid and unsent save by the Spirit of God. Dr. Kao was the first, and it is a joy to record that the work at Kanchow grows and deepens. In August 1921 the first baptisms took place, when a little church was formed with seventeen members, two of whom were women. Now there are more than eighty inquirers, and it is all that Dr. Kao can do to shepherd the flock and make time for prayer, without which he realises there is no spiritual power. He speaks in a recent letter of rising at night to pray, and of longing above everything else that God would make him and keep him a man of prayer. Meanwhile the light is spreading and there are no fewer than thirteen places around Kanchow in which the Christians are at work.[26]

In June 1923, three CIM missionaries, Mildred Cable (盖羣英), Eva F. French (馮貴珠), and Francesca L. French (馮貴石), who had previously served in Shanxi province, intended to move to northwest China to begin a new missionary work.[27] When they passed through Ganzhou in March 1924, they saw the chapel and the church bookstore on a main street in the city center, where evangelistic sermons were held daily at noon and attended by about 150 people.[28] While they were deeply impressed by the missionary work going on, they also saw the great need among believers for biblical instruction. In collaboration with Gao, they conducted a short-term Bible school for several months to equip the young Christians.[29]

Feng Yuxiang (center) with two officers, photographed by Captain H. Holmes. From Marshall Broomhall, Marshal Feng: ‘A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ’ (London: CIM, 1924), frontispiece.

Within five years, Gao was able to establish a comprehensive evangelistic center in Ganzhou, including a chapel, medical clinic, and Bible school. The elaborate construction project was carried out with significant time invested by many believers. Bibles in Chinese, Arabic, Tibetan, and Mongolian were available in the chapel for people to take and read. By the end of 1924, 98 people had been baptized and the chapel was filled during worship services.[30]

3.5. Gao’s commitment to justice and his work under the “Christian General” Feng Yuxiang

Gao, along with Cable and the French sisters, often traveled to Suzhou to preach the gospel. At that time, the fortress commander of Suzhou, Wu Tongren (吳桐仁), collaborated with other officials to exploit and oppress the residents. Their cruel actions on the streets and in prisons, where people were injured or even killed, caused wide-spread horror. Courageously, Gao—who enjoyed a good reputation among the population and was acquainted with some influential individuals—advocated on behalf of the oppressed and the poor and providing at the hospital. In his role as pastor, he also cared for the wounded and sick in prisons. When Gao publicly exposed the atrocities committed by Wu and other officials, he incurred their wrath. They soon fabricated the accusation that Gao had raided the prison and released the prisoners.[31] He was arrested and handed over to the governor of Gansu, Liu Yufen, with the intention of having him sentenced to death for treason.[32]

It was only when the “Christian General”, Feng Yuxiang (冯玉祥; 1882–1948),[33] a well-known warlord, led his troops into Gansu Province that Gao was declared innocent and released with the help of both Christians and the general population. However, imprisonment had severely affected his health. After Gao regained his freedom, General Feng appointed him to support the work of the Red Cross.[34] During the nationalist Northern Expedition, Gao accompanied the “Christian General” as his army marched further north. When Feng became the military governor of Zhengzhou at the beginning of 1928, Gao was appointed director of the military hospital in the city. Though he faithfully fulfilled his responsibilities at the hospital, his heart longed to return to Gansu and continue his medical missionary work.[35]

3.6. Gao’s last years

Little information is available that recount Gao’s activities in his later years. A few articles published in China’s Millions report on how he utilized his recognized social status and numerous relationships to aid and support missionaries. From 1928 to 1930, the northern and northwestern regions of China were struck by a severe famine. In the spring of 1930, CIM General Director D. E. Hoste (何斯德) handed over relief funds and supplies worth over 50 million dollars to G. Findlay Andrew (安獻令), who was to distribute them to support the people in Gansu. However, the route from Xian to Lanzhou was extremely unsafe due to frequent bandit attacks and robberies. So it was that Gao accompanied and aided Andrew, ensuring the safe transportation of money and supplies to Lanzhou in Gansu.[36]

Gao used his esteemed status and personal connections to rescue missionaries from emergency situations. On 8 August 1930, 3,000 Hui (Muslim) soldiers invaded Anding (now Dingxi County), ransacking the area. Irene Reynolds (任梅清) and Ruth L. Nowack (羅福生), who worked at the CIM mission station there, were in great danger. Fortunately, Gao quickly intervened, procured a safe pass for them, and brought them back to Lanzhou.[37] On 28 October of the same year, a nurse from the Borden Memorial Hospital, Emily Gomersal (孔寶書), accompanied Mrs. Helen M. Hayward (海文德) to Beijing and took care of her illness during the journey. Near Baotou, Inner Mongolia, they were robbed by bandits. Gao Jincheng led a company of government troops to rescue them and brought them safely to Beijing.[38]

The Communist Party of China retains a particular interest in Gao because, from the perspective of their official historical narrative, he died a martyr’s death. This version of his biography, which mainly focuses on Gao’s last years, describes how he provided medical care to many injured soldiers of the CPC and contributed to rescue operations of the Red Army.[39] According to this account, Gao was arrested due to his sympathy towards the CPC and secretly murdered by Hang Qigong, a commander of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), in 1938.[40] These claims, however, cannot be independently verified. Based on the available records, it is likely that Gao had to leave the military hospital in 1929, as he seemingly had the freedom to come and go to assist missionaries in need. It is possible that Gao at this time continued to serve as a medical missionary to travel and evangelize the Hexi Corridor region and all places in Gansu province.[41] Though the year of his death is uncertain, it can be provisionally dated to 1938.

Interim conclusion

Undoubtedly, Gao Jincheng is one of the most remarkable missionary figures who worked in China in the first half of the twentieth century. Christian sources attest to how his missionary work creatively combined medical care for people with the spread of the gospel among various ethnic groups in northwest China. Interest in Gao beyond Christian publications reflects his high social influence. Interest is also raised due to the striking gaps in his life story, particularly as they concern his last years and death. While the CPC version of the story Gao’s death is known, the veracity of this version is far from certain. For this reason, a second article on Gao is envisioned to address some controversial issues surfaced in recent research and illuminate the problematic side of the narrative idealization found in both Christian and Communist records.

 

[1] This article uses the pinyin form of his name throughout. However, it should be noted that in older sources he is frequently known as Kao Gin-cheng, for instance in Frank Houghton, George King: Medical Evangelist (London: China Inland Mission, 1930), 41. His Chinese surname can be literally translated “tall” and his given name means “golden city”.

[2] According to the main sources and the statement of his youngest son, it can be assumed that Guting (固亭) is his style-name (zi 字). For a detailed account, see the main source: Lauren Pfister and Jihua Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero: Unveiling complexities in the Story of Dr. Kao Gin-Cheng,” in Shaping Christianity in Greater China: Indigenous Christians in Focus, ed. Paul Woods, Regnum Studies in Mission (Oxford: Regnum, 2017), 134. The ancient Chinese considered that a person could only use their “ming” (名) in the presence of royalty or elders, while the “zi” was used to be addressed among peers or younger generations. Therefore, his first name appears in most public documents, while his style name is often used by his relatives and friends.

[3] Evangeline French, Mildred Cable, and Francesca French, “The Far North-West: A Circular Letter (From Liangchowfu, Kansu, April 11, 1924),” China’s Millions, British ed. (August 1924): 126–28; Evangeline French, Mildred Cable, and Francesca French, “Progress in the Far North West: A Circular Letter (From Kanchow, Kansu, July 8, 1924),” China’s Millions, British ed. (November 1924): 170–72; “In Kansu” and  “Unevangelized Regions” in “Points from the Annual Report Presented at the Annual Meetings Held in the Queen’s Hall, London, on the Occasion of the Mission’s Diamond Jubilee on May 12th, 1925, 1865–1925,” China’s Millions, British ed. (June 1925): 90; “Editorial Notes,” China’s Millions, British ed. (July 1930): 115; I. Reynolds, “Advance Challenged in Kansu,” China’s Millions, British ed. (November 1930): 183, https://findit.library.yale.edu/catalog/digcoll:221953, E. J. Mann, “Forward Work in Kansu,” China’s Millions, British ed. (June 1931): 102–104, http://findit.library.yale.edu/catalog/digcoll:222171 (accessed 4 January 2024).

[4] Houghton, George King; Mildred Cable and Francesca French, Dispatches from North-West Kansu (London: CIM, 1925), https://archive.org/details/dli.pahar.2270; Mildred Cable, Francesca French and Evangeline French, A Desert Journal: Letters from Central Asia (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1949), https://archive.org/details/dli.pahar.2557; Mildred Cable and Francesca French, Through Jade Gate and Central Asia: An Account of Journeys in Kansu, Turkestan, and the Gobi Desert (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1947), https://archive.org/details/dli.pahar.2338 (accessed 4 Jan 2024).

[5] 朱興忠 著, “感受紅色力量:高金城烈士紀念館建設紀實” [Sensing the Strength of the Red: A Record of the Establishment of the Hero Gao Jincheng Memorial Museum, Zhangye Daily (8 August 2010), 1.

[6] 陳金榮  姚興宏 主编, 祈連忠魂高金城:高金城與張掖人民營救紅西路軍將士事蹟  (張掖: 高金城烈士紀念館 , 2012) [Chen Jinrong and Yao Xinghong, eds., Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng: An Account of Gao Jincheng and the People of Zhangye Rescuing the Red Army (Zhangye: The Hero Gao Jincheng Memorial Museum, 2012)], cited in Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 133–34. Pfister and Liu acknowledge that this representation, aligning with an interpretative position oriented towards the CPC, relies on an older article in the journal People: 鄭仁泉 全士英 著, ‘祈連魂—黨的忠誠朋友高金城烈士’ 人物 1987年 第4 期, 90–101. [Renquan Zheng and Shiying Quan, “The Soul of the Qilian [Mountains]: The Faithful Friend of the Party, Hero Gao Jincheng,” People 4 (1987): 90–101].

[7] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero.” See also, Lauren F. Pfister and Yanrong Chen, “Following the Traces of Christians and Christian Communities in Northwestern China from 1920 to 1936,” Jian Dao 37 (2012): 101–36; Lauren F. Pfister and Yanrong Chen, “Notes from Local and China Inland Mission Sources about Christians and Christian Communities in Northwestern China (1920–1936),” in Man-kong Wong, Wai-Luen Kwok, and Yee-Cheung Lau, eds., 法流十道: 近代中國基督教区或史研究 [The Religious [Law] Spread Through the Ten Circuits: Studies of Modern Chinese Christianity on the Basis of Regional Perspectives] (Hong Kong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 2013), 593–612.

[8] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 135–36.

[9] There is no consensus regarding Dr. Kao’s birthdate. The majority of Chinese sources say he was born in 1886, while a Christian source places it in 1888. See “高金城,” http://ren.bytravel.cn/history/gaojincheng.html  (accessed 4 January 2024).

[10] A short account of his early life can be found in the CIM materials and secular sources. Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 43–45; Houghton, George King, 25–27; Chen and Yao, Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng, 1–5.

[11] Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 43.

[12] 黃錫培 著, 捨命的愛: 中國内地會宣教士小傳 [Sik Pui Wong, Sacrificial Love: Portraits of CIM Missionaries], 2nd ed. (Petaluma, CA: CCM, 2007), 183. An extensive biography of Dr. Gao in Chinese is provided in Wong, Sacrificial Love, 183–97. The problematic aspects of this source will be discussed in the following sections. In any case, Gao’s birth and death dates are stated as unknown, while incorrect characters for his name are used. The account of Dr. Gao’s life and work in that source concludes around 1931 and does not engage with any historical materials beyond Christian ones. Details of Dr. Gao’s life and works in the online article by Li Yading, who evidently relies on the summary by Wong, are also limited to Christian sources. Yading Li, “Gao Jiancheng,” Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity, https://bdcconline.net/en/stories/gao-jiancheng; 李亚丁 “高金城,” 華典, https://bdcconline.net/zh-hans/stories/gao-jincheng (accessed 11 December 2023). To learn more about the service of Edward Bevis, see Edward G. Bevis, “Seed Sowing at Kai-feng Fu, Honan,” China’s Millions, North American ed. (June 1904): 64–65, http://findit.library.yale.edu/catalog/digcoll:218703 (accessed 4 January 2024).

[13] Wong documents this encounter between Gao and Hudson Taylor shortly before the latter’s death. Wong, Sacrificial Love, 184. However, this has not been extensively described in any of the contemporary sources. It is accurate, though, that Hudson Taylor was in Henan shortly before his death and made various visits at that time. Howard Taylor, Katharine P. Shapleigh, and H. G. Barrie, The Journeys End: The Story of the Last Days and Burial of the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor (Wilmore, KY: First Fruits, 2019).

[14] Houghton, George King, 24.

[15] Houghton, George King, 25–27. See also, Wong, Sacrificial Love, 184–85. Christian sources underscore that pursuing a Christian education was not in accordance with his father’s wishes. Consequently, the prospect of engaging in Christian education, even preceding the opportunity to study medicine, generated internal conflict within his family.

[16] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 185.

[17] Houghton, George King, 26.

[18] Houghton, George King, 40–41. Wong describes Gao’s dramatic struggle. “One evening at the hospital, as he was on his knees praying, he heard the still voice of Jesus calling him and quietly rebuking him: “What have you lacked all these years? Which of the things which I promised you have failed to come to pass? Did I call you in order for you to become a high official or a celebrity? Or to spread the gospel?” At once, he felt a sense of deep self-reproach, and saw that he had forgotten God’s mercy and had been ungrateful. Searching his heart, he asked himself, “If it had not been for God’s call and provision, where would he be today? If so many missionaries had not cared for both his body and his soul, where would he have gotten this opportunity to be a doctor?” At this point, he re-affirmed his covenant with Christ willingly to lay down everything to be a faithful servant of the Lord, wherever he should be sent.” Wong, Sacrificial Love, 186.

[19] Houghton, George King, 41–44.

[20] Geraldine Taylor, The Call of Chinas Great North-west; or, Kansu and Beyond (London: CIM, 1923), 68, 70–72, https://archive.org/details/dli.pahar.2233 (accessed 15 January 2024).

[21] Houghton, George King, 37, 48; Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 46.

[22] Cable and French, Dispatches from North-West Kansu, 3–5.

[23] Houghton, George King, 57.

[24] Houghton, George King, 55.

[25] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 188—89; Arthur Moore, “The City of Kanchow, in Kansu. The Work of the Gospel There,” China’s Millions, British ed. (1922): 24–25.  

[26] Taylor, The Call of China’s Great North-West, 198.

[27] These three women had dedicated at least two decades of their lives to living and working in a girls’ school in the city of Huozhou, Shaanxi province. As CIM missionaries, they sought a transition from educational missionaries to itinerant evangelists in the Gansu region, encompassing parts of what is now Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and Qinghai. It marked the beginning of their unique career as “The Trio” or “The Three Righteous Women.” During this distinctive phase, they crossed paths with Dr. Gao and made the decision to join him and his Ganzhou Christian community. This collaboration proved to be an immensely significant and creative missionary endeavor. Cable and French, Through Jade Gate; Pfister and Chen, “Following the Traces of Christians and Christian Communities in Northwestern China from 1920 to 1936,” 101–136, cited by Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenons CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 138.

[28] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 189.

[29] James O. Fraser expressed great appreciation in this work. See Eileen Crossman, Mountain Rain: A New Biography of James O. Fraser, rev. and ed. M. E. Tewkesbury (Bletchley: Authentic, 2006), 210–11.

[30] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 190.

[31] Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 152; Chen and Yao, Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng, 3.

[32] It is recorded that Gao was arrested by members of the police force under Mr. Wu’s supervision and remained in jail from 17 February to 1 June 1926. Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 150.

[33] Feng converted to Christianity in 1914 and began leading his troops with a combination of Christian socialism and military discipline. He became known for baptizing his soldiers with a water hose. See Marshall Broomhall, Marshal Feng: ‘A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ’ (London: CIM, 1924).

[34] Cable and French, Through Jade Gate, 156.

[35] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 193.

[36] Reynolds, “Advance Challenged in Kansu,” 182; “Editorial Notes,” China’s Millions, British ed. (July 1930): 115, 118.

[37] Reynolds, “Advance Challenged in Kansu,” 182–83.

[38] W. H. Aldis, “Editorial Notes,” China’s Millions, British ed. (1931): 14–15, http://findit.library.yale.edu/catalog/digcoll:222171 (accessed 4 Jan 2024).

[39] Chen and Yao, Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng.

[40] “高金城 Gao Jincheng,” 百度百科,  https://baike.baidu.com/item/高金城/6316801 (accessed 11 December 2023).

[41] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 194.

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