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A Short Visit To Yunnan

The following is an introduction to the Slide-Show: "Visit to Yunnan South China"

At the end of the 19th century, Sam Pollard a Wesleyan Methodist Missionary, from England Was working in the remote city of Zhaotong in South West China. One day ten lepers walked into his clinic, seeking a cure for their leprosy. These lepers were from the Miao Tribe, with their flowery dress. He told them he had no cure for leprosy, but if they stay and listen to the preaching in the hall, they would learn about God's gift for eternal life. The lepers remained for about ten days and then left. Some time later there a arrived a group of Miao village leaders, who insisted that he come with them to their village. He tried in vain to explain that he was a busy man with all the work in Zhoatong. They were insistent saying they were all prepared to become Christians and were waiting for him to teach them from the book.

Finally he gave in to their persistence and pack up and went with them. It was a weeks trip walking day after day. In the region of Weining Guizho Province. They finally arrived at the Miao village. Everybody was out to greet him and there in the village they had collected all their idolatrous paraphernalia to do with spirit worship, ready to burn it all and turn to Christ. They explained to him that in their ancient legends they had a story that some day a white man with a big nose would come and teach them about God from the book. ( This legend is common to many of the ethnic minorities of Myanma (Burma) and Nagaland and Vietnam. Where great numbers have become Christians.) So when the lepers had returned from Zaotong telling about the white man with a big nose teaching from the book about Jesus and God. They knew this was the fulfilment of their legend.

The outcome was that Sam Pollard had to leave his Chinese work and spend all his time teaching the crowds of Miao who had become Christians. Some years prior to this. There had been numbers of Miao from Guizho that had emigrated to the mountains of Yunnan. Soon their relatives told them the Gospel, These people also in great numbers were seeking to become Christians. Sam Pollard approached the CIM if they could send a missionary to Yunnan. So Arthur.G. Nicholls an Australian was sent. After a time Arthur Nicholls found seekers from other tribes were crowding in to be taught. Soon he found himself with 7 language groups of seekers. He appealed for other missionaries to be sent to join him. The mission sent George.E.Metcalf It took him 9 months to walk to Wuding. Mr Metcalf took on 3 language groups the Eastern Lisu (Lipo), Laga, and Yunnanese Thai. Later Mr Gladstone Portuous came taking on the work among the Yi Tribe.

There was great comradeship among these pioneers and Sam Pollard devised The Pollard Script, to put the Miao language to writing. The pioneers then worked on adapting this script to their varying tribal languages. This picture taken in 1911 was on one of those occasions when they got together to share mutual problems and discuss the growth of the churches.

In 1938 Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor visited Yunnan to write a book on the Life of Arthur G. Nicholls. On their voyage back to England, the sad news of The Home call of J.O.Frazer was relayed to them. This resulted in the book "Beyond the ranges" (The Life of J.O.Frazer being written in its place.)

The Tribal pioneers 1911. Sam Pollard & A.G.Nicholls (Miao tribe) Mr & Mrs Portuous & Baby Ruth..(Yi tribe Nosu) G.E.Metcalf. Eastern Lisu (Lipo) on the right. They met to discuss the adaptation of the Pollard Script.

My guide and interpreter who met me at the plane in Kunming on Sat 19-8-05. Heng Kat from Malaysia.

The head of the Religious Affairs Bureau in Wuding County.He is a Yi tribesman. He drove the 4 wheel drive very skillfully. Mr Yang his deputy. A Lisu from Dao-Gu His grandfather was my playmate from Dao-Gu. (Taku)

Dr Andrew Lee a Korean Dentist. Who was thrilled to come on the trip.

The state of the road after rain was atrocious.

Crossing river beds is bad enough. Straight after rain it’s a rushing torrent.

Mid stream, We had to cross a number of rivers. If it rains it becomes a rushing torrent.

Concentrating on the bumps etc, one hardly had time to enjoy the magnificent scenery.

Can you see the road ahead?

After driving for about 5 hours of zigzagging up and down Dao-Gu was not in sight. Dao-Gu is now bypassed by all the newly constructed roads surely we must be getting near. It use to take us five days trekking. On the way we have passed scores of little villages. The nearest bus stop is 3 hours walk.

It was the first village back in 1908 to become Christian and is still the centre of the Eastern Lisu Church. This photo was taken in 1938.

We turned a corner and there it was! About a mile away. The little white church on its own. The roads weren't there in those days. We used to come over the crest of the hill on the far side and call across. There was always an echo. Then we would descend into the deep valley then cross the river and climb up to come out just where the white church stands. It would take us an hour and a half.

We still had about a mile to go and the road continued to be formidable with about 12 hair pin bends to descend to the village. The bends were so sharp we had to back up to get around them.

Suddenly people who had come to meet us appeared ahead. The pastor and his wife and Yang my old playmate.

As we walked around the corner there were crowds of curious children up in the bushes.

The church choir had come out to meet us,they were standing on either side of the road singing a welcome song and clapping in rhythm. The large welcoming banner in Chinese read Hu-an-ying Quinqui Welcoming me home not just as a friend but as a close relative. Calling me by my father's name and title Wang Huai Ren. It was all too much and I cracked up emotionally.

The ladies were a riot of colour all singing beautifully, and clapping in rhythm.

The pastor and his wife

The choir master with his strong baritone voice leading the welcome. Their voices echoing around the mountains.

And then they started down the path.

The choir master and his wife took me by the arms and led me down.

What an unforgetable scene it all was, surrounded by the beautiful mountains.

We started heading for the village and the church, about a ten minute walk.

In the church the hymns of joy continued.

This is just a little sample of the singing.

I gave a word of encouragement. Telling them of father and mother's call to glory. Saying they always prayed for them even though they never had any news.

Then the Pastor recounted the years since 1951 when my father left. At the farewell he was a young man and my father gave him a new name!"Chi-Tsu-Che" The Communists closed the church down. They destroyed the Bible School, burnt Bibles and hymn books. For 30 years they went through persecution, some of the Elders were martyred. But the 2 to 3000 Christians in 1951 have grown to over 80,000. Hallelujah. You're the first visitor from outside since that time.

The choir all gathered for a picture. My old playmate is the old man with the cane, On the other side of me is the old school teacher who was given an ultimatum to either give up his faith or be dismissed after teaching for 28 years He chose to follow his Saviour. He has since given his time to Bible translation. The Communists took over the school.

This is how my old friend looked in 1936 with the hat over his ears. My other friend has passed on.

We had been five hours on the way. It used to take us five days walking. They had prepared a sumptuous feast for us.

Another old friend has gone almost blind but he wanted to make sure it was me.

There lots of mountain delicacies etc.

The rooms up above were where we slept. A Christian family gave this large property to the church when the Communists commandeered all the church property.

The lady has seen herself in the picture from 1938.

I wonder which one she was.

On Sunday morning we went to the school. They pointed out the pepper tree my father had planted. It stood in front of the Bible school which was destroyed in 1951 by the communists.

The Communists left the old school my father started. The people were illiterate and very few understood Chinese. So my father had the mammoth job of learning Lisu then putting it to writing (The Pollard Script).Then opening a school. Training teachers, Translating Catechisms, writing hymns. Translating the Bible. Also teaching Chinese as well as basic arithmetic. Even well educated Christian Chinese looked on the tribal peoples as rubbish not worth spending your time on teaching.

Two bright eyed girls. So little had changed.

We had bought colouring books and coloured pencils as gifts for the children. They were delighted.

The parents and children all posed for a picture.

Then we walked up the steep steps to my old house. I couldn't recognize a thing. All the space around the house had been built on. The Communists had nobody to put in it and so a Christian family bought it. The rooms remained the same. Although they had taken out the staircase and it was now outside. But so much had changed it was unrecognisable.

The father was at the church getting things ready. Notice the satellite dish. The wife was delighted to meet us. She was so nice.

Picture43.jpg We had to walk back through the narrow roads to head for the church. That is why the motor road didn't go down into the village.

The last stretch to the church was through the corn field.

The church was packed an unforgettable sight.

Picture46.jpg The service lasted over 3 hours. I again had to speak by interpretation. There were choirs from other villages including a Han (Chinese) Village. They recently had 20 families that turned to Christ and destroyed their idolatry. Its wonderful to realise these despised tribal people are reaching out to their Chinese neighbours.

The men sit on one side the women on the other. Just to think that for nearly 30 years this church was closed down.

When I showed these pictures to the Japanese Christians they kept saying look at all these crowds of Christians!

Looking across from the ladies side.

Looking from the ladies side when we were praying. There was an amazing quiet while the pastor prayed. Sometimes they all prayed quietly out loud.

They erected a moon gate arbour for the farewell. It's a memory that will remain with me.

The old man on the left had walked 8 hours to be there. He said that my father always stayed in his home when he came to their village to teach the Bible. He was just a little boy in those days. There were many more who had walked 3 to 4 hours to be there that day.The old man in the middle is the old school teacher, now leading the Bible translation.

They all started up the hill.

It was a steep ten minute walk up the hill. The young man on my left was one of the main people in revising the Eastern Lisu Hymn book. In 2005.

There were crowds down in the village ,scattered here and there.

I stood and waved back to the crowds below.

This man wanted to give me his hymn book, as a farewell present He said your father taught us to sing hymns and gave us the first hymnbook. I told him I couldn't read the Sam Pollard script.

People were pleading with me to stay. I had been given a "jeeka" bag.

They began to show their sorrow at my parting. The older people remembered my mother and father and associated me with them in their thoughts.

As we drove off up the hair pin bends, having to back up to get around. That is what I call hairy. I wondered as I looked back if I would ever see Dao-Gu again. We hadn't had anything to eat and were hungry. The tribal people don't eat breakfast. Another three hours drive and we met up with the pastor from Yuanmou City. Who was waiting to take us in his car, while the officials went back to Wuding.

Yuanmou is in another county and is a Chinese city of 250,000. Hundreds of the ethnic minorities have moved there. The Lisu pastor has a church of 200 members. When he met me, he was very emotional. He said that back in 1915 my father had gone to his home village, about 50 miles north where a lot of Lisu live. His grandfather was converted. Later his father had gone to the Dao-Gu Bible school and become a pastor. Now he's a pastor. He said your father is a legend all over this area. The Communists didn't dare touch him because the people defended him. He is now building a big new Church. In Yuanmou. There were 48 house churches in the city and they resisted persecution. In the end the government gave in to them. Giving them a lot of autonomy They now have 12 large Chinese churches.

This man was a Bible School graduate from Daogu. He still travels around the villages. He has pastored thousands. He still travels around the villages teaching the Word of God. The communists never stopped this saintly man from his mission for God. Yuanmou is situated on a very fertile plain at the southern most bend of the great Yangtse river.

Dr Andrew Lee the Korean Dentist was greatly distressed that he had left his precious bilingual Korean & Chinese Bible behind in Dao-Gu. He had rung up on a mobile and this man had volunteered to bring it. Andrew had suggested that we delay our return the next day until he turned up. He was woken up the next morning announcing that his man with his Bible had arrived. He had taken the short cut down the mountain starting at dawn. It had taken him 4 hours walking. It took us five in the jeep. This is how the couriers use to go to get our mail from Yuanmou which was our nearest post Office.

Picture64.jpg The pastor showed us his photos and talked of the history of the Lisu Church. I was so tired when I left Dao-Gu I had suggested that seeing I wouldn't know anybody in Yuanmou. We had better return with the jeep to Wuding. "Oh no, said my guide, The pastor is coming half way to meet us." In hindsight I would have missed out so much of the overall picture if I had not gone to Yuanmou.

Elder Lee ,who was martyred. He was a teacher in the Bible School.

At midday we had a delicious meal, we had had no breakfast, which is normal. The big man nearest the camera is the church manager. He is blind in one eye. He is a Yi tribesman. Chinese is the common language in Yuanmou. Christian tribal believers have a great affinity with Christians from other tribes. The non Christians tend to hold to their old allegiances. It was interesting to see the wife who cooked the meal sitting down to eat with us men. This is common among Chinese.

The three wheeler come motor bike taxi is the cheaper form of travel there are lots of normal taxis. They are not expensive. About 10 p for 3 miles.

The busses are limited to the number of passengers by the number of seats; by the time they get out in the country they are packed to standing capacity! The baggage they manage to carry is phenomenal. Wuding was about 50 miles and cost us the equivalent of £2.00.

This was a Yi tribal church by the side of the road to Wuding. There are numbers of these churches by the roadway serving the scores of villages.

At Wuding I met up with one of my old playmates. I'm afraid I didn't remember him. He later went to the South West China Bible School and became a pastor. He was fascinated with my old photographs from the 1930s.

A picture of my sister in Lisu dress at the age of three. Because my sister was four years older than me many remembered her better.

Our family when I visited last in 1938 My sister was 14 yrs old.

My father in 1941.

On trek on the five days walk to Dao-Gu

Picture75.jpg This is how I travelled when I was small

My friend Zhong concerned by the lack of the Bible in Lipo ( Eastern Lisu) and moved by the Spirit did his own translation of the New testament mainly from Chinese, which was published by Wickliffe in North Thailand. He says he has distributed about 1000 copies. Unfortunately his translation was sidelined by the Bible Society as having too many errors.

Mr Portuous's grave the communists smashed his gravestone. The Yi Christians stuck it up together and put a wall around it. This is in the Yi tribal area. He died in 1944. The whole incident Backfired on the Communists.

The South West China Tribal Bible School was destroyed by the communists in 1951 The cattle graze there now.

The old Yi Tribe 1916 Church. In Salawu. This is hardly used now

The old Yi Tribe 1916 Church. In Salawu. This is hardly used now

Looking across at the town of San-ii-Pan from the old church in Salawu. Its about a mile away.

Last year they bought the theatre in the market street and have turned it into a huge church. All the people come into the market and the church is packed out for three services on market day. This has taken the place of the old 1916 church.

They also bought up a Government hospital and turned it into a short term Bible School. This is the BTI manager. The students help with the cooking and chores. Christian farmers provide all the food for the students.

I enjoyed one of the tastiest meals of my visit with the students.

I spoke to the 70 students. Who are mainly from the Yi tribe although they have a number of Lisu and from other tribes. Afterwards in talking with them they kept referring to the fact that my father walked 9 months to bring the gospel to the Lisu. Even though they climb the mountains like mountain goats, in this age walking so far is hard to conceive.I was interigued to notice that the Yi (Nosu) Miao, and Lisu students all had their language Bibles on their desks to compare. All the lectures are in Chinese.

The church and Bible School staff. Just the one lady lecturer. There about a dozen lady students. The man on the top right hand corner is the son of a prominent pastor of a big church in Kunming.

Different tribal villages lie scattered throughout the vast mountainous area. They often overlap. Some are Chinese some are Lisu and some are Miao as well as many Nosu.

All through the mountains there are hundreds of tribal villages like this.

Back in Wuding we were able to see a vast amount of booklets and publications in various tribal languages .Including the only copy of my father's translation of the New Testament. It was published by the Bible Society in HongKong in 1951 All the others were destroyed. My sister sent his own copy which had all kinds of corrections and notes that he made before he died. This is kept in Wuding Religious Affairs Bureau in Wuding City.

This was sent to them in 1999. 48 years after it was published.

This is the New Lisu(Lipo) Hymn book published from DaoGU. 2005

This a sample of the Pollard Script.

They asked me to pray for the Tribal Churches.

Zhong's son and Pastor Yang in prayer.

The Wuding Church has 3 services a Sunday all packed out. Wuding is a Chinese city and has always in the past been resistant to the gospel, but not today Our taxi driver said his wife would never miss church. My old friend Zhong His son a pastor in training is on the other side. The older man in front of Yang and his wife the lady in between the other two women use to work for mother and father until the communists turned them out. They took care of our house and milked the goats.( I had a memory of the two of them when I met them in Wuding.) The other two ladies work in the Wuding church. There are about 35 churches in Wuding.

The old CIM church in Kunming was taken over by the Communist Government and used as a warehouse. The Chinese church had the property handed back to them. Last year they built this magnificent Cathederal like church seating hundreds right in the heart of the city. It is packed out 3 times every Sunday.It is high-tech with large screens on each of the 5 flooors

The crowds in the street waiting to get in.

More crowds in the street.

This is a Chinese church also attended by hundreds of tribal people. The police have to control the crowds on a Sunday.