Tercentennial Minute (or Video
1940: The Chinese Brethren are Martyred
As part of our upcoming Homecoming celebration,
October 25-26, a video has been commissioned
highlighting the history of our church. The third installment
was not quite done as of Friday. Therefore, the
below has been substituted. However, if the video is
finished by Sunday, it will be shown instead.
It has been said
that there were more Christian martyrs during the 20th
century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. This was
true for the Brethren, when one considers those who were
martyred in China by the Japanese.
inroads into China beginning in 1908. Brethren missionaries not
only spread the gospel, baptizing and introducing the Love
Feast, but also worked hard to improve the lives of ordinary
Chinese, many of whom lived in absolute misery.
All this came to a
crashing end with the Japanese invasion of China. Japan has
refused to admit and confess to the many atrocities committed by
their army in China. Against the backdrop of the murder of
hundreds of thousands of people, the deaths of three Brethren
missionaries and thirteen Chinese Brethren are not, perhaps,
significant on the world stage. That makes it all the more
imperative for Brethren to remember.
Little is known
about the fate of Minneva J. Neher, Alva C. Harsh, and Mary
Hykes Harsh. The three Brethren missionaries were stationed in
Show Yang. Around 7:30 in the evening on December 2, 1937, a
little girl came to ask them to come help a dispute. They left
together and were never seen again. The three had always been
careful to obey the regulations imposed by the Japanese forces,
but it appeared they had been set up. Rumors about their fate
flew, but nothing was learned either then or after the war when
Brethren missionaries returned to China.
More is known
about what happened to the thirteen Chinese Brethren at Liao
Chou who were martyred for their faith in 1940. Liao Chou was
organized as a Brethren congregation in 1912. When war broke
out Brethren remained behind to feed the children and keep the
Bible school open.
In August of 1940
the Japanese arrested seven Brethren: Li Che’ng Chang, a teacher
at the boys school, Wang Kuei Lin, a cook, Dr. Wang Yu Kang, Liu
Fu Jung the head male nurse, and Wang Kuei Jung, brother to the
cook. He was also a deacon, preacher, evangelist, and teacher.
Two women were among that number: Liu Chin Lan and Ti’en Mei Siu,
both of them teachers at the Brethren Bible School. Arrests
followed for Liu Ch’un Jung, brother of one of the teachers, and
Wang Pau Lo, son of the cook.
tortured and forced to sign false confessions that they were
Communists, and released. Six more women were arrested in
October 1940: Chang Shu Mei, a teacher, and Chao Su Ti and Chau
Yu, adult pupils in the school, along with Chang Kai Hsien and
Chao Kai Hsien, nurses in the hospital, and Tsao Yu Fen, a
student. On October 13 the first three were stabbed to death
with swords. The other three were repeatedly raped, then
On October 13 the
eight previously arrested were rounded up and shot. On November
16 the two cooks were shot as well. Most of them were leaders
in the church. The Doctor had not yet received baptism, but he
was preparing to join.
After the war Brethren attempted to investigate to learn more.
Little could be learned beyond the brutal fact that they had
been martyred because of their Christian faith. Let us remember
the terrible sacrifice of the martyrs through this Tercentennial
Minute for Sunday, October 12, 2008.
by Frank Ramirez, pastor of the Everett, PA
Church of the Brethren
posted by permission
The Everett church
graciously makes available these weekly vignettes from Brethren
to all who are interested during this
anniversary year of our denomination.
Frank will be the guest preacher for our Homecoming on October
(this is our congregation's 100th anniversary year)