British Missionary Keith Parsons, Son of Samuel Pollard's Co-Worker, Dies at Ages 99

By Ruth Wang, November 06, 2015 03:11 AM

Shimenkan Church

Shimenkan Church

Shimenkan Church

On Oct. 18, Shimenkan Church of Miao held a special memorial service for Reverend Keith Parsons who served the Miao people and passed away on Oct. 12.

Rev. Keith Parsons had a close connection with the Miao churches. His father, Reverend Harry Parsons was one of those earliest to start the churches of Miao and worked with Samuel Pollard, a man who had profound influence in the Miao churches.

The book, “In Unknown China,” written by Keith and his twin brother states that their father, Harry Parsons, came to Yunnan Province as a missionary in 1902. While learning the Chinese language, Harry Parsons once worked for six months in Zhaotong and Dongchuang and stayed in Fuguan village, located at the north of Yangtze River. Then in 1906, soon after he married his wife in Kunming, they came to serve in Shimenkan and worked with Samuel Pollard.

They studied A-Hmao language and lived with the Miao people. They had quite a lot of work.Their letters to England tell that they were occupied with affairs and the workload was pretty surprising. An endless stream of people went to visit them and there were many various things that they needed to handle: the storms that weathered the church, even things such as  dental problems and operations.  On Sundays Harry preached the Chinese sermons twice and the Miao only once. He and his wife also taught the Bible every day. Harry visited most areas of Miao nationality in Sichuan and built many schools and churches in Niupokan while also  translating the Gospel of Mark into Pollard Miao Alphabet.

They preached the gospel among the Miao people for 22 years. As co-workers of Samuel Pollard, they worked together. As the successors of Pollard, they preached in Shimenkan after 1915. In 1926, the couple left Shimenkan to go to England for a vacation. When their vacation was over, they requested to return to Yunnan in 1927, however, this was rejected by the doctor for their bad health. But their two sons, Reverend Keith Parsons and his twin brother returned to Yunnan and continued their work until 1949.

Keith Parsons was born in Zhaotong, Yunnan in 1916. He grew up in Shimenkan and mastered the Miao and Pollard Miao languages. He served as a missionary in today's Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao Autonomous County. On Oct. 14 this year, when the Miao people knew Rev. Keith Parsons passed away, a letter written in both Chinese and the old Miao script with with a signature of ""Shimenkan Miao People" immemorialized the deep emotion between Keith and the Miao churches.

It says, "Mr. Parsons, born in Shimenkan, devoted his most beautiful youth to Weining. He was a member of the Shimenkan A-Hmao. Thanks to the cultural inheritance contribution by Mr. Parsons and the book, “Western China's Public Praise Cultural Material Integration of Miao,” we now know about one-hundred traditional cultural charms of the A-Hmao.  Thanks to the cultural inheritance contribution by Mr. Parsons. When Mr. Parsons returned to England, he continually cared for the Shimenkan and contributed greatly to the collecting of A-Hmao's traditional culture, perfecting the old Miao script and the creation of its computer input method."

"We lost a good brother and tutor, which is sorrowful. His spirits, character, dedication and achievement will inspire us to strengthen or self construction and walk towards civilization and prosperity forever."

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