In the Chinese church history, female Chinese Christians have been an important group that has promoted the development of the church. In the areas such as missionary work, education, medical care and social affairs, they have made an indelible contribution. We would like to introduce to our readers ten female Christians in the Chinese church and through their testimony to appreciate their wonderful footpath.
I. XU (third tone) Gandida
In the 17th century in the Chinese Catholic church, Xu Gandida (Christian name) was the second granddaughter to Xu Guangqi, the then 'pillar' of the Chinese church, and is no doubt an important figure.
Born in 1607, she had been religious and practicing virtues from childhood. At the age of 16 she married Xu Yuandu, who came from a distinguished family in Songjiang, and converted him to Christianity. Xu Gandida passionately supported church work, especially missionary work and also gave much help to foreign missionaries in China. After the "case of Johann Adam Schall von Bell', many Jesuits experienced hardships and were persecuted. Xu generously provided financial support to missionaries to deal with their difficulties.
Many times she donated funds to support the construction of church buildings in Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong, Sichuan, Henan, and other provinces. In addition, she was active in charity work, alleviating poverty and adopting abandoned babies.
II. NI Guizhen
In modern Chinese history, the SONG family is undoubtedly an important name. Ni Guizhen played a significant role in the rise of this prestigious family. She was raised in a pastor's family and her mother was a descendent of Xu Guangqi.
Ni had six children including Heling, Qinglin, Ziwen and Meiling. She and her husband SONG Jiashu put great emphasis on their children's education and sent them all to be educated in America, hoping to make them future pillars of Chinese society.
Although Ni Guizhen seldom participated in the church's ministry directly, she was definitely an example for Chinese Christian families of a good wife and mother.
III. JIN Yamei
In modern Chinese history, many students have gone abroad to receive an education and there has been no lack of female students among them. Jin is one of the first female students in China's modern history to study abroad.
Jin's father was a pastor who unfortunately died of the plague. Young Jin was adopted by an American missionary, Divie Bethune McCartee. Later she followed her foster father to Japan and went to America, becoming the only Chinese student at that time to graduate from New York Women's Medical University.
Having successfully completed her academic career, she returned to China to develop medical ministry, in great ways helping the poor and making remarkable achievements in medical education. In addition, Jin was one of the founders of China Red Cross.
IV. Dora Yu
In the Chinese missionary history, there has never a shortage of female evangelists and Dora is one of them.
She was a pastor's daughter. In her earlier years, she was a doctor in the UK, but was called to God's ministry and had the goal of becoming an evangelist. She followed missionaries to Korea and started a local spiritual revival. Later she began revival meetings all across China, one of which became the 1920 Fuzhou Revival. It was a lifechanging event for a young man named Watchman Nee.
Dora also established Jiangwan Bible Seminary in Shanghai that educated many ministers.
V. WU Yifang
Jinling Women's University is a famous university for females in the Chinese church history and has gained fame for its female studies program. Wu was the principal of this very famous university.
In 1916, she enrolled at Jinling Women's University, being one of the first ever Chinese students. In 1928 she was hired as principal of the university, a position she held for 23 years. Under Wu's leadership, Jinling had a Christian ethos while emphasizing all aspects of women's development. This university, therefore, became a well-known educational institution during the Republic of China era.
Not only did she make great contributions in education but also in social affairs, particularly during the anti-Japanese campaign, urging for and gaining much international support for China. Above all, she is the first female ever to be a signatory to the UN Charter.
VI. SHI Meiyu
Born in 1873, SHI is second to JIN Yamei, being the second female student studying abroad and the second female to become a doctor. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1896 and established Danfu Hospital and a nurse school in Jiujiang, China, later also becoming the vice-president of the Chinese Medical Association. In 1920, she went from Jiujiang to Shanghai to establish Bethel Hospital (the former 9th Hospital).
Shi was not only a prestigious doctor but more known for being an evangelist. She and missionary Hu Zunli established Bethel Church and Bethel Seminary in Shanghai and greatly supporting JI Zhiwen in forming Bethel Global Evangelical Team which ignited the revival in China during the 1930s.
She also involved in charity, establishing primary schools and orphanages.
VII. ZENG Baosun
Zeng was the granddaughter of ZENG Guofan, an important literary figure in the latter era of the Qing Dynasty. Being raised in a rather liberal family, they supported her, whether she wanted to study abroad or become a Christian.
Zeng was not married but gave her whole life to education. In 1916 she obtained Bachelor of Science degree from the University of London. In 1918, she opened Yifang School in Changsha and continued working there for 32 years. Altogether, she established 26 classes for junior middle school and 19 classes for senior middle school, educating approximately 1,000 students. Yifang is a well-known school for girls in Hunan Province.
Zeng Baosun was also the principal of the provincial No. 2 Middle School for Girls and provincial No. 1 Women's Normal School. Apart from that, she was invited to various cities to deliver speeches as well as share educational and social research findings. In the winter of 1938, she was invited to visit Eaton Pubic School becoming the first ever oriental female speaker at the school and gave a speech entitled, 'China Will Win the Anti-fascist War'.
VIII. LIN Qiaozhi
She was a daughter from Gulang Island. From childhood, she was raised in a strong Christian atmosphere, developing a spirit of loving the neighbor as oneself and devotion to one's career.
Lin was the founder of Chinese maternity medicine. In her 60-year medical career, she was a midwife, herself helping to deliver nearly 50,000 babies. Apart from this, she also did research and taught. She, therefore, is known as the 'Mother of Ten Thousand'.
Thanks to her advanced medical expertise and her thorough and attentive maternity care, many mothers named their children Lin after her. Names such as Nianlin, Ailin, Jinglin and Yanglin all are names expressing their gratitude to Lin Qiaozhi.
IX. CAI Sujuan
It is believed that many have been touched by the beautiful testimony of Cai after reading her book, 'Queen of the Dark Chamber'.
Cai was born in an official's family in Nanjing. At the age of 16, she attended Minde School for Girls, established by American missionary Charles Leaman. Despite the objection of her family, she accepted Christianity. She eventually succeeded in converting 55 family members to Christianity and started mission work together with Mary Leaman.
In the winter of 1931, she was 41 and became ill so that her eyes could not be exposed to light so that she had to be in dark places. Because of her strong character, she was able to share her life testimony all over the world. From her dark chambers, she sent out countless letters, answering people's questions about life.
X. CHEN Yuling
The gospel ministry to China's ethnic minorities has been a much-discussed topic. Chen, a Chinese female evangelist, worked in ministry in Yunnan's ethnic Miao regions for 25 years and was reputed to be the pioneer missionary to Chinese minorities. In 1919, Ding Limei lead the China Domestic Evangelism Association to Yunnan and Chen was the youngest among the six ministers. After these evangelism efforts, she remained there to continue her ministry.
Based in Kunming, she went to each small town or village to preach the Gospel and established many churches among the minority groups. She also established schools in order to make education more accessible to all. Her quiet devotion resulted in many people accepting the Gospel.
- Translated by Charlie Li