“The Son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below—
He follows in His train.”

When Dr. Dwan informed his family that he had become a Christian, or as they put it, “become a slave of the foreigners,” it was as if a thunder-bolt had fallen in their midst.

The first step the doctor felt he must take as master of his own home, was to destroy the household gods. While the first ones were being torn down, the family were too terror-stricken to offer any resistance, but by the time the “kitchen god” was reached Mrs. Dwan had somewhat recovered her senses and stood before the stove over which the god was pasted, prepared to fight.

Firmly, without undue violence, her husband put her aside, and, securing the god crumpled all together in his hands, (for they were made of paper), he faced the crowd which filled the court; here, for almost an hour the brave man preached with intense earnestness of the love of the One True God in giving His Son for them. He then kindled the gods and burnt them before the crowd, who, when all was over, dispersed, but with black looks and ominously quiet.

For many months Dr. Dwan labored among his neighbors and through the whole region trying to win men to his new faith, but public opinion was too strongly against him. It was universally believed,—by his family as well as outsiders—that the foreigners had bewitched him and that the gods would certainly wreak their vengeance upon him. Strange to say, what followed, tended to strengthen them in this belief.

A railway, which had recently been built by foreigners, passed over part of Dr. Dwan’s land. One day, soon after he had come out as a Christian, one of the doctor’s hired men was ploughing a piece of this land with a yoke of oxen (or mules). When crossing the rails, and blinded by a dust-storm which was blowing, the man did not notice the train which struck and killed both animals, though the heathen hired man remained uninjured.

The most precious possession a man can have in China, next to a son, is a grandson. Dr. Dwan had one such treasure; a fine healthy child, he was the pride and joy of both grandparents. Soon after the above accident had come to try the new Christian’s faith, this child took ill suddenly and died. We can only imagine what a tremendous test this must have been to the grandfather’s faith.

Shortly after the grandchild’s death the eldest son purchased an animal at a fair; after it had been put with the other animals it was discovered to have a distemper, and, though at once removed the mischief was done, for a few days later most of the doctor’s animals were dead. They were indeed dark days, and through all these special testings which I have mentioned, was the unceasing nagging and at times violent raging of his wife; but later the testimony was given that through it all Dr. Dwan’s faith in God never flinched.

When feeling the need of help and encouragement, a visit to his friend the foreign doctor, never failed to give fresh courage. But darker days were in store for him, and he surely needed all the help his fellow Christian could give.

One day a deputation waited upon him to ask for his contribution towards the village theatrical held in honor of the village god. Dr. Dwan received them courteously, and endeavored to show them how impossible it was for him to give to such an object now that he worshipped the One Only and True God.

When finally the deputation saw that they could not move him, they left in anger, threatening, that since he chose to go against the will of the people, he must take the consequences. The price he had to pay for this stand we shall see.

A few days after the above took place, the doctor’s watchdogs were both found poisoned. The Chinese depend very much upon these dogs for protection against thieves, who are everywhere in this land. From this on the neighbors carried on a system of petty thieving of the doctor’s property which continued till within a short time of his death.

The village people, as is general in China, worked their farms on the co-operative plan, at least to the extent of sharing as common property many necessary farming implements. When Dr. Dwan came to require these as was his right, they were refused. Patients ceased to come, and calls from a distance became a thing of the past. In a hundred ways he was subject to petty persecution. When these failed to “bring him to his senses,” more serious action was planned.

One day when the doctor was away from home, the news reached him that his barn and dispensary had been set on fire and burned. A few months later, just before the wheat harvest, his wheat field was set on fire. And through it all he stood alone with his God,—never shrinking, never doubting.

Then, as if God saw he needed but the final refining, malignant cancer of the throat brought his body low. It was then that the tide of Public Opinion seemed to turn. His wife even began to show signs of real change. She no longer opposed her husband, but it was not till much later that she seemed to be really converted. The eldest son, who had all along been secretly with his father, now came out boldly as a Christian; and from the time when Dr. Blank gave his verdict that Dr. Dwan could not live, he devoted himself to his father endeavoring in every possible way to make up for the past. Even his heathen neighbors began to ask themselves, “Have we done this man wrong?”

The missionaries from W—— made frequent visits to the dying Christian, and as every detail of these visits was discussed by all the villagers (everything is done openly in this land) there is little doubt but that the love and interest shown by the foreigners on these visits had much to do with the rapidly changed attitude towards Christianity.
Before Dr. Dwan passed away, he had the joy of hearing that his two sons, his elder son’s wife, as well as several of his neighbors had become Christians.

As this saint’s last struggle ended and his last breath was drawn, we can almost hear the welcome that awaited him, and the Saviour’s voice as He said,—”Well done good and faithful servant—enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Within three years of Dr. Dwan’s death, the writer witnessed the destruction of the village Temple, destroyed by PUBLIC CONSENT that the materials might be used in building a Christian Church on the outskirts of the village, the land on which the Church was built being given by one of the men who so bitterly persecuted the first Christian.

It was in this little village Church the writer heard some of the finest personal testimonies she has ever heard. It was the last of a week’s special meetings, the leader had given opportunity for any who wished to give a personal testimony; in an instant a poor working man was on his feet, as if afraid lest others would get ahead of him. This is what he said:

“Please, Pastor, I want to tell how I know God answers prayer. I was wheeling a barrow full of coal down a steep place the other evening when it broke down. I did not dare leave my barrow or the coal would be stolen, and I did not dare stay there or I would freeze, so I just knelt down by the roadside and asked God to send some one to help me. As I was praying a man came along, and seeing me on my knees called to know what I was doing. I told him I was asking my God to send me some one to help me mend my barrow. The man then said, “Your God has certainly heard you this time for I’m a carpenter and I have my tools with me, so come along.” He mended my barrow and helped me down the hill. Now I do know God answers prayer.”

Before the man was seated, young Mrs. Dwan had risen. Putting the little baby she had been holding in the arms of the woman next to her, she stood erect with quiet dignity and speaking in a low but clear voice that all could hear, she said:

“Pastor, I too wish to tell how I know God answers prayer. The first days of these meetings I received such a great blessing I longed to help some one else to know Christ, but I had so many duties with my little children and my home I could not go out, so I just kept praying as I went about my work, ‘Lord, make the people go to the Church,’ over and over again. Now, hasn’t He heard my prayers?” And with a look of triumph she waved her hand first to the women’s side and then to the men’s, saying as she did so, “Look there, and there!” The building was packed, aisles, window seats, even the windows were banked with faces, all listening quietly and attentively.

And now the closing scene. The day following the above-mentioned meetings, a number of Christians and a crowd of not unsympathetic villagers, gathered about Dr. Dwan’s grave and erected to his memory a stone slab. Well might it have recorded on it that his path had been “by way of the Cross,” from his first Gleam of the true Light to his entrance into the Glory beyond.

GO TO: As Silver is Refined, PART 1