Part II, Contributions to Society. Lesson two of four.
Lesson 6. Social Welfare and Education

Through today’s lesson, we hope you will have a greater desire to assist people in their needs.

1.Health care. The Chinese people have always valued health.  Chinese medicine has thousands of years of history, and research into Chinese traditions still continues today.  By 400 BC, Hospitals were formed by Buddhists in Sri Lanka and India   Greek and Roman temples were used to care for the sick before the time of Christ.  Caring for the sick and building hospitals has been part of the church’s work since the early centuries.  A document of 217 AD states that church workers provided care for the sick.  In 375 AD, the Roman Emperor, a believer, ordered that hospitals be built in the major cities.

2.After 320, some groups of believers gathered together to become monks in monasteries. The monasteries developed rooms to take care of sick monks.  These became models for increasing the quality of hospitals.  They also had herb gardens to grow natural medicines.  A group of knights constructed a hospital in Jerusalem to care for sick pilgrims.  In 1099, when European armies took over Jerusalem, this service expanded.  This group and other groups built hospitals along the roads from Europe to Jerusalem.  After 1200, city governments began to take responsibility for hospitals and in the nineteenth century public hospitals were more numerous than church hospitals, although the public hospitals often invited monks and nuns to provide the care.  Today governments have taken on the responsibility to continue the work of operating hospitals, while many private and religious hospitals continue to exist.

3.Mission hospitals. Wherever missionaries went, they built hospitals.  In 1524 Catholic missionaries from Spain built a hospital in Mexico.  Christian missionaries are well known for the many hospitals they have established around the world.  Christian women had an important role.  In 1869 the first woman missionary doctor in the world was sent to India by the Methodist Missionary Society.  The ruler in India, a Muslim, was so impressed by her work that he donated land and buildings for a hospital – the first women’s hospital in Asia.  Up to her death in 1997, a leader¹³ of a group of Catholic nuns  dedicated her life to helping the poor lepers in India.

4.China. Hospitals were an important contribution of the missionaries to China.  The first Protestant missionary to China, Morrison, established a medical clinic in Macao in 1820 . In 1834 an American missionary²¹  established the first modern style hospital in China,called the Bo Ji hospital, in Canton.  By 1914, there were 213 church medical clinics in China.  In 1937, when the Japanese attacked Nanjing,  the Christian doctor²² at the university hospital, did not leave the city but worked day and night to save hundreds of Chinese citizens,

5.Orphans. The church also has helped other needy people.   James 1:27 tells us to care for widows and orphans. The early church founded orphanages.  The monasteries took in unwanted children.  Christians missionaries in India pressured the British government to forbid the burning of widows.  In China, in 1840 missionaries established an orphanage in Hong Kong, in 1874 a blind people’s institution in Beijing, in 1887 a deaf-mute institute, in 1891 a leprosy institute, and in 1898 a mental hospital.

6.Education. In 800, a man named Charlemagne became the emperor in central Europe. Charlemagne realized that the preachers in Europe could become better if they learned how to read the Bible.  With this motivation, he began with himself, and spend many years trying to learn to read.  At the same time, he used a lot of the kingdom’s money to establish schools.  The main purpose was to help people understand and share the Christian message.  After two more centuries, the large universities of Europe were founded. These universities developed from schools that were established in monasteries and large churches under the control of bishops.  Around 1150, Oxford University was established in England.  The civilization of Europe began to rise again.  The man called the “Father of Modern Education” is a Christian: starting in 1631, a German educator¹² began publishing books about new teaching methods that involved students in other ways besides lectures,  so learning could be pleasant and thorough.  He advocated access to a wide variety of courses for both boys and girls.  He promoted studying the mind of the child and the way it learned. He used pictures to teach concepts.  His ideas are common in education theory today.

7.Sunday School.  In eighteenth century England, the rising Industrial Revolution provided jobs for many poor families.  There were no laws against child labor, so many of the workers were children, who worked instead of going to school.  Since they had no opportunity to learn to read, they could never climb out of poverty.  A newspaper editor² in England devoted himself to these children.  He found housewives to open their homes on Sunday to teach them reading, for Sunday was the only day these children did not have to go to work.  This project became successful.  In 1783 the Sunday School movement was publicized through news reports in England.  People around the world began to do the same thing. By 1837, 1.5 million children around the world were being taught Sunday School by volunteers.  The Bible was used as a textbook.  As child labor laws removed children from the workplace, and public education took over the responsibility of teaching children to read, Sunday School focused on religious instruction.  Today many Christian churches throughout the world have an hour of Sunday School for all ages in addition to the Sunday worship service.  Many churches also have small group Bible studies for adults or youth which are held sometime during the week, sometimes in homes and sometimes in the church building.

8.Schools in China. China has a long and distinguished history of education. The Chinese schools that prepared scholars for the Imperial Examinations concentrated on the famous literary classics, and were limited to those who could pass the entrance tests.  In the 19thcentury, when Christians from Europe and America began to enter China, they established schools to help the common people learn how to read. The Christians established schools in a modern style that taught science and technology. ³²

9.War. The terror of war has prompted many Christians to help.  A girl¹ in England felt that God was calling her to a life of service.  When she grew up, she astonished her well-to-do family by helping out in hospitals, and then going to help wounded soldiers.  Eventually she organized a system for nursing care, and in 1860 the first school for nurses in the world was organized in England.  A banker from Switzerland was also moved by the needs of wounded soldiers.  Since he³¹ came from a pious Christian family, he wanted to help, and in 1863 the Red Cross was founded in Switzerland.  He also influenced governments to accept the “Geneva Convention,” which makes sure than prisoners of war will receive health care.  The Red Cross has expanded to help not only soldiers, but also those who are hurt in natural disasters.  China often has natural disasters.  Missionaries raised money abroad to help the great drought of 1876-1879.  During the war against Japan, from 1937 Chinese groups such as the Christian Youth Committee and the United Church Committee of Shanghai sent help for the wounded and dying, and distributed medicine and food.

10.Healing. Believers often pray for healing.  In James 5:14-16,  God promises that prayer can heal the sick.  The early Christians prayed for the sick, and they also cared for the sick.  There are many stories of miraculous healings in the early church that resulted in many people becoming Christians.  The same pattern has been repeated whenever missionaries go to a country.  And even in today’s China, miraculous healing is bringing people in to the church. Christians know that God is all-wise, so we do not concern ourselves about why God heals some and not others.

11.YMCA. In 1844, an English Christian¹¹ established the YMCA in London.  His³ goal was to develop high standards of Christian character though group activities and leadership training.  YMCA stands for Young Men’s Christian Association. The YMCA has been an important contributor to Chinese society.

On to next chapter               Return to church History Menu

Footnotes: 1) Florence Nightingale  2) Robert Raikes  3) Thomas Bray   11) George Williams   12)  Jan Comenius   13) Mother Theresa   21)   12) Peter Parker   22)  Wei Er Sun   23)  Ding Shu Ling   31) Henri Dunant
32} More about Christian schools in China. In 1818 Morrison established an English /Chinese study place.  Many translators were trained here.  When Morrison died in 1834, his followers set up the Morrison Education Society, and in 1839 established a school in Macao.  Many of the graduates went on to study in America.  By 1875, missionaries had established 350 schools, mostly elementary schools.  At these schools people could learn to read the Bible, and also learn about science and world geography.  At that time, church schools were the only “new-style” education organizations, so they were much in demand.  By 1899 there were 1766 schools, including five universities.  Church schools were also opened for girls and for the minority groups.  In 1898 an American missionary²³  was given authority to take charge of the Beijing Teacher Education schools.  In 1905, after the Imperial Examinations were ended,  the Christian schools became the model for the new schools of China.  Many of the influential people in recent Chinese history attended mission schools. During the anti-Japanese war, after 1937, five Christian Universities moved behind the lines to Cheng Du, where they made use of their scientific experiments to strengthen industrial and development work. Eventually the government took on the responsibility of giving everyone an opportunity to learn to read and be educated.

Word List:: Canton is Guang Zhou 广州  Charlemagne  查理曼  Cheng du  成都   Macao [ao men]  澳门   Nanjing  南京 Oxford  牛津    sheriff  县治安官