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Western Medicine Spread in China by Foreign Missionaries

Western Medicine Spread in China by Foreign Missionaries

A historical photo of Changhua Christian Hospital in Taiwan A historical photo of Changhua Christian Hospital in Taiwan
ByChristine Lau January 13, 2022
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Recently, the head of a doctor's fellowship in East China held a sharing session on the Internet entitled "The Spread of Western Medicine in China and the Love of Missionaries".

There are many healing stories and Christian hospitals all over China, including five famous hospitals: Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, and Changhua Christian Hospital of Taiwan. All of them have deep relationships with missionaries.

In February 1838, with the purpose of promoting medical missionary work, the Medical Missionary Society in China was established in Guangzhou. A large number of medical missionaries entered China to establish hospitals or clinics where they had settled.

In 1889, there were 61 mission hospitals in China; while in 1949 the number had increased to more than 340.

In 1938, China Inland Mission, established by James Hudson Taylor, had 1,963 missionaries in China, 2,452 places of worship, 190,365 people baptized, 288 schools, 14 hospitals, and 93 medical bureaus.

Built on September 5, 1990, the Taiwan Christian Health Care Alliance was an alliance organization that included 17 Christian hospitals and 12 Catholic hospitals. For example, the mission of MacKay Memorial Hospital in Taiwan is to heal people’s bodies, minds, and spirits, following Jesus’ teachings of loving others and caring for the weak, in order to carry out medical evangelism.

At present, Changhua Christian Hospital has formed a complete medical system with 8,000 employees, 600 beds and six regional hospitals, serving people in Changhua County, Yunlin County, Nantou County, and Taichung City. Moreover, expanding overseas medical services, it has sent medical teams to less developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Asia, Latin America, and South Pacific Island to train medical personnel, donate materials, and improve local medical services.     

Dr. Griffith John, a Swansea missionary, established Hankou Renji Hospital (the present-day Wuhan Union Hospital) in 1868, Wuchang Renji Hospital (the predecessor of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine), as well as Wuhan's first gynecological hospital. Opening more than ten hospitals, he distributed medicine for free and built 6 schools.

Dr. David Landsborough III (known as Dr. Lan), a Scottish physician and Presbyterian missionary, founded Changhua Christian Hospital. After serving in Changhua for 40 years, his son, David Landsborough IV, succeeded him as a medical evangelist.

In 1928, Chou Chin-Yao, a poor 13-year-old boy, tripped over a stone and injured himself. Unfortunately, the infected skin wound on his right knee was festering. Landsborough transplanted four pieces of skin from his wife (Marjorie Learner) to Chou. Though the donation failed, he recovered after an autologous skin graft. Under care of Landsboroughs, Chou was baptized and became an influential pastor.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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