Rediscovered! China Missions Handbook from the Year 1896

150 years ago, the mission field in China looked much different than it does today.  The missionaries who felt called to missions in the orient did not have the plethora of resources that they have today.  They did not have Google or Wikipedia, nor did they have an Amazon Prime account to purchase ebooks from anywhere in the world, with the ability to carry thousands of books in their pocket!

However, those early missionaries did not go empty handed.  They might not have had the luxury of modern choices, but the blood, sweat, and tears of the first Christians in China produced one of the most effective missionary handbooks ever compiled.  Most missionaries who left their homeland for China would have had a little handbook in their bag.  This book was a window into a world beyond anything they had ever seen or experienced before.

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In the year 1894, a guide for missionaries was produced, known as The China Missions Handbook.  It became the primary tool for preaching the Gospel in China and more than 100 years later, still has power for today’s believers.

The China Mission Handbook was produced during a time when few explorers had ever been to China and very little information was available, but it did more than introduce the unknown secrets of China.  It laid out each religion in the Middle Kingdom and how Christians could approach them.  It is a much needed masterclass in cross-cultural missions and this is why BTJ is making this rare handbook available!

Below is a short excerpt from the book, teaching the missionary how to work in multi-religious and multi-cultural lands:

The whole world is a promised land of the children of God. Whatever good other religions confer on the nations politically, socially, or materially, it is the object of Christianity to confer more of this good.  Our Lord taught that material and spiritual benefits are not antagonistic, but that both blessings are conferred by His Gospel. He did not say do not seek material blessings. That would contradict the whole tenor of the Scriptures, which say that the nation which will honour God, He will honour, but that the nation that will not serve God shall utterly perish.

Our Lord taught His disciples to pray for daily bread. Again seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you. That is temporal blessings are embraced by it. When this principle is more fully realised and acted upon, then whole nations will rapidly flow to Jesus Christ as their Saviour God just as certain as the waters on the thousand hills flow to the sea. But if it is denied that the Gospel brings present blessings to men and nations in spite of occasional persecutions, then God will cast such partial Christians away, as He did the Jews, and give His blessing to another religion which actually does save body, as well as soul. It is neither God nor the Scriptures, but ignorant tradition, which has narrowed down the scope of the Gospel from its all-embracing salvation.

After this it is hardly necessary to say that conventional forms, however dear they may be to some minds, are but religious toys. It is the spirit of tender love, of pitiful compassion for all sufferers and a determination by the grace of God to save them from all suffering that is essential. And as to traditional creeds they are interesting as historical landmarks in religious history, but they become treasonable documents when they divide the people of God. We must turn our faces from these towards those effectual, practical truths that unite all good men. These creeds often only touch upon fractional departments of the Kingdom, while the bulk of Christian work is forgotten. Mint and anise are tithed and the weightier matters are neglected. Even these fractional truths are doubtful when we test them by our Lord’s great canon— “By their fruit ye shall know them.”

The world all over is groaning under sufferings. The Christian religion alone attempts the salvation of the whole world. Asia, especially China, has millions dying of sheer starvation every year. Christians alone attempt to save these at present.

Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism have no practical scheme of deliverance. India has the baneful caste binding innumerable burdens on the Hindus, and it has millions of ignorant poor. Hinduism seems to a large degree helpless. Islam seems content with the condition of the people under its rule.

Christianity on the other hand is concerned for all nations and peoples in Asia. It has missionaries everywhere, who not only point to a higher life in every department, but also to the practical means of attaining that life. It finds Asia poor and naked and oppressed, ignorant and miserable, and imperfectly acquainted with God. It wants to make it well-to-do, well-sheltered, well-informed, a happy conscious child of God and a glad heir of immortality. Bringing such glad tidings of great joy to Asia no Asiatic can be anything but grateful to it. There only wants time to make these ideas clear to them at large, then will whole nations turn from dead idols to the living God.

1 thought on “Rediscovered! China Missions Handbook from the Year 1896”

  1. The language emphasizes the “blood, sweat, and tears” of the first Christian missionaries in China. This implies their work was extremely challenging and required great sacrifice and dedication, without the benefits of modern tools.

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