Death Throes of a Dynasty: Letters and Diaries of Charles and Bessie Ewing, Missionaries to China

Death Throes of a Dynasty: Letters and Diaries of Charles and Bessie Ewing, Missionaries to China

Death Throes of a Dynasty: Letters and Diaries of Charles and Bessie Ewing, Missionaries to China

Death Throes of a Dynasty: Letters and Diaries of Charles and Bessie Ewing, Missionaries to China

Excerpt

This is the story of the work of American missionaries Charles Edward and Bessie Smith Ewing in China between 1894 and 1913 and the events, a number of which they were eyewitnesses to, that were then shaking that ancient land to its very foundations. It was a time of turmoil, of change, of fighting and revolution. Yet it was also a time when foreigners, men and women, could preach a new doctrine in the cities and villages of China that had been little changed in centuries. The Ewings would first go to China as newlyweds to teach that doctrine and to do "God's work." They would establish their permanent home in North China, first in Peking and later in Tientsin. Their first two children, daughters Marion and Ellen, were born in China. Edward and Andrew, although born in the United States, would, along with their older sisters, spend their early years living in the missionary compounds of their parents.

Charles Ewing claimed that from about the age of ten he wanted to be a missionary in China. It was in 1879 that he first heard an American missionary from that distant country speak at his father's church in Enfield, Massachusetts. Both he and his brother, Henry Ewing, made up their minds to devote their lives to preaching the gospel to the Chinese. What caused this son of a New England Congregationalist minister to attend divinity school and then to go so far afield to spend much of his adult life in a land so different and distant from his own? Part of the answer certainly lay in the dreams of a ten-year-old boy, but there was a larger picture as well.

Following the end of the American Civil War, there was a strong surge of Protestant revivalist activities in the northern part of the United States, and particularly in New England and the Midwest. By the later half of the 1880s this movement had led to the formation of Bible study groups, student volunteer activities, and foreign mission conferences at colleges as geographically separated as Yale and Oberlin. Among the better-known organizers of such activities were Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey. At Oberlin College in Ohio a professor of church history, Judson Smith, encouraged his students to go into missionary work. Later he would become secretary of the China division of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and a part of the Ewings' life. The revivalist movement resulted . . .

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