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110 Years of Mission in China
February 22, 2012

During the weekend of February 3-5, 2012, Chinese Union Mission and Hong Kong Macao Conference of Seventh-day Adventists hosted the 110th anniversary of the official beginning of Adventist Mission in China.  Many Adventist believers from China joined local church members to make the occasion more than just memorable. 

Abram La Rue, a shepherd and woodcutter from California, had a burning ambition to take the good news to China. He wrote to the General Conference but was told that at 65 he was too old. Moreover, they didn’t have the money to send him. Not discouraged, La Rue negotiated his way onto a ship where he could work his way to Hong Kong. He arrived there in 1888 and began preparing pamphlets for distribution.

Fourteen years later J. N. Anderson, the first official church missionary to China, arrived in 1902 (exactly 110 years ago this week).  Abram La Rue witnessed the first six people baptized in that part of Asia, before he died one year later in 1903. As the decades rolled on, a long line of notable Adventist pioneers worked in China. Because of the limitations of time and space we are kept from talking about Dr. Harry Miller, Pr. Ezra Longway, Pr. Milton Lee, and many, many others.

The current government policy of China bars the involvement of foreigners and foreign organizations in Chinese church affairs.  Yet, as the Adventist Church respects the government policy, the number of Adventist believers continues to grow organically and indigenously.  Today there are more than 4,000 Adventist congregations throughout the country.

Even more incredible is how times have changed.  Starting in 1902, missionaries were sent to China and today, the roles are changing.  Well, at least a little.  Here and there homegrown missionaries from China are being sent out to Chinese communities around the world. 

Sabbath morning (February 4), at the end of the church service, a number of pastors on the platform encircled a young lady from northern China, who that very evening was going as a missionary to the island Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean.  Her pastor from northern China, was also on the platform and joined the whole congregation in corporately blessing her as she traveled and would begin her missionary ministry.

Pr. Stanley Ng of the Northern Asia Pacific Division preached the Sabbath morning sermon on the topic, “Reviving the Spirit of the Pioneers.” Major groups and churches from around China participated in the programs.  A number of choirs were in attendance and shared their music.  The Wuxi Church put on a pantomime rendition of Abram La Rue’s arrival and difficult ministry.  Even the agitated little kids sitting in front were totally entranced and motionless for more than 10 minutes.

So throughout the weekend the participated congregation reminisced, prayed, and committed themselves to become like our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit impelled a long line of early pioneers to the very frontiers of “mission impossible” without ever counting the cost.