Few in the home-land have any just conception of what it means for a missionary’s wife with little children to engage in aggressive evangelistic effort for the reaching of her heathen sisters. The following sketch which is true in every detail may serve to illustrate what a missionary mother must face when engaging in such work.

“I simply cannot, dare not, go,” the wife was saying as her husband stood before her with a Chinese letter in his hand.

“The letter states plainly that an epidemic of smallpox has broken out in the very place we planned to go to. If it were not for baby I would gladly go; but supposing he should later take the smallpox and die?” and her voice ended with a sudden break.

“But,” replied her husband, “I am perfectly sure that if we definitely trust Him for the child God will not let him come to harm. The Christians are all expecting us, and would it be right to show the white feather at the first appearance of danger? How can we tell the Chinese to trust God if we do not?”

For an hour or more the mother went through a bitter struggle between her fears for her child and an impelling sense of duty towards her heathen sisters. At last she determined to go, but with fear and trembling lest the child should get the smallpox.

The following evening after bumping (the only word to express the movement) for eight hours in a springless cart over hills and stony roads, the missionaries reached the village of Hopei.

Some distance outside the village a few Christians were awaiting their arrival and escorted them through the darkness to the Inn—each one anxious to help in getting their guests settled. One carried the roll of bedding—two others the food box, still another sought to get possession of the baby, but the mother feared to part with him. Everything was piled in a promiscuous heap on the large brick platform which took up about half of the room which they were told was to be their living-room and women’s preaching place as well.

The room was certainly not inviting; the roof was broken in (ceiling there was none), the walls were black with the soot and dirt of generations, and hard uneven lumpy earth did for floors. Furniture, there was none—not even a table or chair.

The mother’s first question was “where can I keep the baby?” For answer she was led to an opening in the wall beyond which was a mud hole just large enough to spread their bedding, but at the further end were several great rat holes! A sudden desperate fear for her child took possession of the mother, but pride kept her from letting her husband know her fears.

Early the following morning the women and children from the surrounding country began crowding in. By nine o’clock the room was packed to suffocation with a great crowd outside trying to get in. All were clamoring to see and feel the foreign woman and her child. These women knew absolutely nothing of the Gospel, and as the missionary mother looked into their rough, ignorant, sensual faces and thought how she had even risked the life of her precious child to come to them, a great yearning came into her heart to be used of God to bring light to their dark minds.

For many hours a day she and her faithful Bible woman preached to the ever changing crowd. Sometimes they were both in despair at the crush and confusion. Constantly could be seen children marked with smallpox carried in their mother’s arms. At times the atmosphere was so over-powering the mother could only cry to God to keep her from fainting.

Though early in May the weather was very warm, and the husband continually had the easier time for he had both light and air preaching as he did in the open court.

All through the week the baby had stood the confinement and conditions wonderfully. When not asleep he would delight and win the women by his happy ways. But Saturday morning found him ill and feverish, lying listless in his mother’s arms. The mother was for at once rushing home with him, but her husband gently rebuked her lack of faith, and reminded her of their promise to hold a communion service at a distant village on the morrow.

Before day-break the next morning, Sunday, all the missionary’s party was astir, and as the dawn was breaking they filed out of the yard through the quiet deserted streets into the country, following a winding mountain path. When at last the summit of quite a high hill was reached, the missionary sent the rest of the party on ahead, while he and his wife sat down with their sleeping child.

For a long time neither could break the silence, their hearts were too full. Never will either forget the peace and beauty of that hour. It was all intensified by the contrast with what they had left behind.

The mother could only think with horror of the darkness and dirt, sin and suffering, turmoil and unspeakable degradation in which they had lived for those six days.

But now it seemed as if they were in heaven itself. Oh, the beauty of that scene! To the east the sun was just appearing in all its height of glory. To the north, south, and west, rose mountains and hills still in shadow, except for the tipping of the coming sun whose herald of glory lit up the eastern sky and plain which stretched out before them as far as the eye could reach.

It seemed there on that hill-top alone with God so easy to trust for the little one who was still feverish and ill. But all too soon, as it seemed, they had to leave that quiet spot and go down into the valley—to the noise and confusion of the village where their Sabbath ministry lay.

The following morning early they once more turned their faces homeward, and as the mother saw the bright, happy smile on her child’s face, the fever gone, she pressed him to her with joy and thankfulness, and there arose in her heart a cry for forgiveness that she had been so faithless and unbelieving.

This cruel self, oh how it strives
And works within my breast,
How many subtle forms it takes

As if it were not safe to rest
And venture all on Thee.”

As years passed the mother’s faith did grow, but it was on God’s faithfulness until she learnt it was safe to venture all on Him.

Dear fellow-mother in the homeland, as you realize from these lines something of what it costs a mother in China to step out from her home to save her Chinese sisters, ask yourself “Could I do it?”

Oh, my sisters, criticize less and pray more for the missionary mothers of China.