At the present time there are thousands of Miao now able to read and write, and the work of this enterprising missionary has conferred an inestimable boon upon this people. When I went among the Miao I was able, after ten minutes’ instruction, to stand up and sing their hymns and read their gospels with them. Miao women, who heretofore had never hoped to read, are now put in possession of the Word of God, and the simplicity of the written language enables them almost at once to read the Story of the Cross. Surely this is one of the outstanding features of mission work in the whole of China. I hope at some future date to publish a work devoted exclusively to my travels among the Hua Miao, for I feel that their story, no matter how simply written, is one of the great untold romances of the world. As a people, they are extremely fascinating in life and customs, emotional, large-hearted, and absolutely distinct from, with hardly a manner of daily life in common with, the Chinese.
Whilst referring to mission work, it is a great privilege for the writer to add a word of most deserved eulogy of the United Methodist Mission at Chao-t’ong and Tongi-ch’uan-fu, and to the kindness shown by the missionaries towards me when I came, an absolute stranger, among them in May, 1909. It is to two members of this Mission that I owe a life-long debt of gratitude, for it was Mr. and Mrs. Evans, of Tong-ch’uan-fu, who saved my life, a week or two after I left Chao-t’ong, as is recorded in a subsequent chapter.
It was in the old days of the Bible Christian Mission—than which the individual members of no mission in the whole of China worked with more zeal and lower stipends—that a most interesting development in the mission took place.
The mass of the Miao are the serfs of the descendants of their ancient kings, who are large landowners, and the Miao are tenants. In 1905 the Miao heard of the Gospel, and came to listen to the preaching, and thousands came in batches at one time and another to the mission house. Their movements thus aroused suspicion among the Chinese, there was a good deal of persecution and personal violence, and at one time it looked as if there might be serious trouble. But the danger quieted down. The chieftain gave land, the Miao contributed one hundred pounds sterling, and themselves put up a chapel large enough to accommodate six hundred people. A year later, a thousand at a time crowded their simple sanctuary, and in 1907 nearly six thousand were members or probationers, and the work has steadily progressed ever since.
I am indebted to the Rev. H. Parsons, who had charge of the work at the time I passed through this district, and whose guest I was for several months, for the following interesting details regarding the methods adopted in the running of this enormous mission field. Mr. Parsons is assisted in his work by his genial wife, who is a most ardent worker, and a capable Miao linguist. Mrs. Parsons regularly addresses congregations of several hundreds of Miao, and has traveled on journeys often with her husband; and such work as hers, with several others in this mission, is a testimony to the wisdom of a system advocating the increase of the number of lady workers on the mission field in China.