In 1880, a Chinese boy, Charlie Soong, arrived at Wilmington, N.C., on the United States cutter, Colfax. The captain of the Colfax, Charles Jones, became very much interested in the Chinese youth.
Captain Jones later found the boy a home with some Christian friends. There, the young Soong became a Christian. Subsequently, a Methodist minister piqued the interest of philanthropist General Julian S. Carr of Durham, N.C., in Charlie Soong.
General Carr took in the boy and became very much attached to him. The man sent young Charlie to study theology at Vanderbilt University.
Soong was fortunate to have received the education he did. By 1938, only one out of every nine adults in China could read, and about 50 million Chinese children of school age did not attend school.
Armed with a Western education and knowledge of American business, Charlie Soong returned to China, where he became a teacher of English and theology, a Southern Methodist missionary, a Y.M.C.A. organiser, and a printer of Bibles.
Charlie also engaged in many businesses from which he amassed a fortune and became one of China’s wealthiest men.
He married and had three daughters, Ching-ling, E-ling, and Mei-ling. Although they were born in a Christian Chinese home, they were not considered “worthless girl babies”. Little did he know that they would go down in history.
Ching-ling, the eldest, after graduating from the Wesleyan College (where the three sisters studied), returned to China and married Dr Sun Yat-sen, who became the first President of the Republic of China.
E-ling, the second daughter, would later marry Dr Kung, Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Chinese government.
Lastly, Mei-ling, the youngest, married General Chiang Kai-shek, who led China’s defence against Imperial Japan before and during World War II.
When Dr W. N. Ainsworth, former president of the Wesleyan College, was ordained Bishop in the Southern Methodist Conference, he was sent to China.
He visited Mei-ling and President Chiang Kai-shek at their summer home. At the end of his stay with them, he told Mei-ling how glad he was to see her so happily married. She replied, “Only one thing, Bishop, is needed to complete my happiness. I am praying that my husband will become a Christian.”
Her prayer was eventually answered – on 23 Oct 1930, Chiang Kai-shek, the President of China, became a Christian and was baptised at the Southern Methodist Church in Shanghai. The message to Bishop Ainsworth was that under the influence of his Christian wife, Chiang had “come to feel the need of a God such as Jesus Christ”.
Who would have thought that a simple action on the part of General Carr to a young Charlie Soong would have brought forth three Christian Chinese women who were instrumental in shaping the destiny of nearly 500,000,000 persons in China?
Adapted and reproduced from The Malaysian Message, Vol. 48 No. 6, June 1938
By Daisy W. Rowley
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