Dear Ministry Partners,
When I smuggled
Bibles into China, I had lunch with an old Chinese woman they
called "the Corrie Ten Boom of China". Mabel's grandfather
was a pastor in Yanqing, China, in the late 1800's, just north
of modern Beijing. In 1900, a rogue group called the Boxers
decided to cleanse China of all foreign "pollution".
That included slaughtering Christians, whether Chinese or foreign.
Some Boxers apprehended Pastor Chen, his wife, a son, daughter,
and co-worker. The Boxers dragged them to a local temple, and
ordered them to renounce Christ by worshipping the idols. The
family refused, knowing the cost. The Boxers robbed them, stripped
them naked, and drove a sword through Chen's neck. His daughter
ran into her mother's arms and was impaled together with her on
a spear. Then all were hacked into pieces. (Note — the movie
Days in Peking featuring Charlton
Heston can be rented which gives an inspiring and realistic
portrayal of this Boxer
rebellion in China.)
Such was Mabel's heritage. The man
(Chen's son) who would be her future father was away at the time
of his family's martyrdom, and so his life was spared. Seven years
later, May 23, 1907, Mabel was born; but her father died just
a few years later. Mabel's mother died when Mabel was only 12.
More fortunate than most of the many orphan girls in China then
and now, she was raised by relatives. These relatives sent her
to a Christian school, where she excelled and also learned English.
Despite her background, she was not yet a Christian. She explored
Buddhism, Confucianism, and then Christianity. Mabel realized
she too was a sinner and only Christ provided a solution! She
trusted Christ as Savior and, as her favorite song says, there
was "No turning back, no turning back!" She
attended middle school through college with the future wife of
Nee, and they remained friends the rest of their lives. After
college, Mabel graduated from the prestigious Peking
Union Medical College.
It was 1937, and everyone knew the
invading Japanese would soon be coming. And just then, a marvelous
opportunity was offered Mabel — going to the U.S. to continue
her medical research! Her decision was between staying in China
to face Japanese invaders famous for raping and murdering, or
go to the U.S. for wealth and prestige. She stayed in China. If
she left, she knew it meant never coming back — and too
many in China had never heard of Christ. Her fiancé deemed
it wiser to take the U.S. option, which was also offered to him.
Mabel broke off the engagement and abandoned her career —
and set off for Tibet wanting to preach the Gospel where Christ
was unknown. In those days, getting there alive was only a 50/50
proposition, and Tibetans treated missionaries like the Japanese
treated prisoners. But that made no impression on Mabel because
"they deserved to hear the message of salvation".
Mabel got as far as Kanding, in western
Sichuan, where she was arrested for "religious mania".
After she was released, she lived in Beijing doing work in the
medical field by day, and Christian ministry every chance she
had for the next 56 years. (She hid Watchman
Nee and his wife in her home for over a year.) When China
opened up some to the West in the 1980's, Mabel's old two room
house became one of the earliest storehouses for smuggled Bibles.
In 1991 alone, she transferred at least 15,000 Chinese Bibles
through her home. Inevitably, on December 30, 1991, the Communist
police came and confiscated several hundred Bibles she was storing
at that time. Was she afraid? She talked about the experience:
"I told them these Bibles were neither mine nor theirs,
but the Lord's! I demanded they give them back! Then I preached
the gospel to them all." At just 4'6" tall, Mabel
was a fireball of courage for the Lord.
Did the police raid stop her? Not
at all. She finally realized her dream of going to Tibet in 1993
at the age of 86, and went back three more times doing missionary
work before I met her in China when she was in her 90's and still
active for the Lord. She only recently passed on to her reward.
(Most of these facts above courtesy of China Harvest in Wichita,
Courage. It is demonstrated in various
ways in different people. For Mabel, it was dangerous underground
Christian ministry during Communism. For an unknown Christian
in the late 1880's, courage was passing out Gospel tracts in Beijing
(then Peking). Hardly anyone wanted his tracts about a "foreign
god", and a shopkeeper was about to throw a tract away in
disdain when his young apprentice exercised courage and took it.
That young apprentice was named Chen — Mabel's grandfather
— who got saved, became a pastor, and was martyred by the
Boxers. His Christian courage started a dynasty that affected
thousands of lives.
After testimonies like that, how
can we in America be afraid to witness, afraid to put a Christian
bumper sticker on our car or wear a Christian tee shirt, afraid
to go on a mission trip, afraid to put a Bible on our desk at
work, or just stand up for what is right in the face of mere peer
pressure? "God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
I have met T.L.
Osborne, and early in his ministry career he and a fellow
minister named Don
Gossett did a study of the book
of Acts in order to discover the secret of success of the
early Christians. One of the main keys they found was the boldness
or courage of those first century believers. They were willing
to "pay a price" — step out in faith and courage
to witness, worship, pray, identify themselves as Christians,
and even die. (God is not trying to get us all to die for Him,
He is trying to get us to live for Him. But living for Him takes
We need to remember the examples
from scripture of Daniel
and the lion's den, Shadrach,
being threatened with the fiery furnace, David
taking on the 700 prophets of Baal,
facing the Red
Sea. And in modern times, we need to remember the courage
of those in the persecuted church in places like China, Russia,
the Middle East, India and Pakistan. There are those who overcame
— "who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed
acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from
weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies
to flight." (Heb
11:33-34). There are also those who have paid a mighty price
— "all gave some, but some gave all".
We should not let them die in vain — their examples should
encourage and inspire our courage to be all we can be for Jesus
and do all we can for the Kingdom
In the Old Testament, we are reminded
by God of the courage of Joshua
when the 12 spies saw the giants in the promised land, and the
people were all afraid to go on. Joshua's courage was instrumental
as he took leadership after the death of Moses. It was Joshua's
courage speaking when he said, "As for me and
my house, we will serve the Lord."
I met Ed
Cole and did consulting for his ministry before his death.
He was the author of Maximized
Manhood, and he once said, "Champions are made,
not born. Champions are men in whom courage has become visible."
And it can take courage to pick yourself up if you have failed
at something, and try again. Ed Cole wrote an entire book titled,
Winners Are Not Those Who Have Never Failed, But Those Who
Never Quit." Courage
is defined in a Webster dictionary as mental or moral strength
to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. We need to exercise
the courage to overcome whatever obstacles we are facing.
Dale & Judi Leander