Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/103

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57
THE PROVINCE OFR FUKIEN

by baptism. From that time till now the work has gone steadily forward, receiving cliecks and discouragements at times, and at others meeting with heavy persecution, involving death itself both for the missionaries and their converts, but ever widening out and occupying new centres. The Church has not only lengthened her cords, but also strengthened her stakes, as she has moved forward under Divine guidance to occupy new territories.

There are two or three features of Mission work in Fukien which seem to call for special comment, and which should be borne in mind by the readers of this brief account of our labours. It must, then, be remembered that the thousands of converts who form the Fukien Church have never been gathered into Christian communities, but are scattered throughout innumerable towns and villages, living out their Christian life amidst their non-Christian countrymen, and therefore surrounded on all sides by the superstitions and idolatries from which God's grace has delivered them. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that now and then there are relapses into heathenism and falls into sin, but as a whole these Chinese converts remain true to their newly-found faith, and often display a zeal and devotion which prove beyond a doubt that their hold on Christ is a very real one.

Further, it must be borne in mind that although, in a short paper like this, the subjects of church-organisation, self-support, and self-government are of necessity left largely out of sight, the Christian Church in this province has made rapid strides in this direction, and is gradually lessening her dependence on foreign aid, either financially or ministerially, and all who wish to see the development of a purely native Church in China will rejoice in this fact. It is necessary also to point out that Fukien happily possesses a large number of devoted lady missionaries belonging to different societies, who are doing invaluable evangelistic, educational, and medical work amongst the women and children.

The primary duty of the Christian missionary is un-