A Missionary Life:
Rev. J. Wesley Day
China, Malaysia, Indonesia

Chapter 4. China After the War

April first, 1947, I was back in Kalgan, China.

Ruthlydia, Jack, Vivia waiting to board the Marine Lynx en route to China.

Since leaving in December '38 I had finished Seminary, married, studied post-war reconstruction, and served a church.

In  Hawaii
In Hawaii en route to China, 1947

April 17, Bishop Z. T. Kaung held the Fourth Session of the Kalgan Annual Conference. Eleven churches reported 2,634 members led by nine elders. Three districts were organized serving Kalgan and the area a hundred miles south and west of this provincial capital on the border of Mongolia.

Churches of the Kalgan Provisional Conference of the Methodist Church, 1948

Church group
Church Group in Kalgan, Winter of 1947-1948. In addition to Chinese leaders and Day family, Horace Williams is in back row.

My assignment was Conference Treasurer and Superintendent of the Western District.

With me was my wife, Ruthlydia, and children, Jack age 5, and Vivia, age 2. At first it was not considered safe for them to remain in Kalgan and they stayed in the Methodist Mission, Beijing.

Ruthlydia in Peking
Ruthlydia Day at Mission Compound in Peking, 1947.

Later they moved to Kalgan.

Kalgan House
The Methodist Mission House in Kalgan, China, 1947

Family in Kalgan
The Day Family in Kalgan, 1947. The zinnias grew from seeds mailed from the U.S.

Beside the Methodist Mission in Kalgan, there was a Norwegian Alliance Mission and Hospital, a Pentecostal Church, a Salvation Army Chapel, and a Seventh Day Adventist church and hospital. The British and Foreign Bible Society had an agent in Kalgan. On the Mongol plateau North of us were missionaries of the Swedish Mongol Mission who often stayed with us on their trips to Beijing. Also in Kalgan there was a Roman Catholic Church, served by Belgian Missionary priests.

In the secular world Kalgan (Zhang Zhia Kou) is a trading city where China meets Mongolia. Camel caravans traditionally leave here for points in Central Asia. Sven Hedin, the Swedish explorer embarked from here on his exploration trips into Inner Asia. Roy Chapman Andrews left here in 1931 on his famous --- and successful --- search for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. From here in 1900, when North China missionaries became martyrs, missionaries in Kalgan escaped across the Gobi desert.

Ruthlydia and Jack on camel in Kalgan, 1947

In 1945 when the war ended the Communists took Kalgan. The Nationalists, under General Fu Tso Yi, drove them out. Victims of the fighting in the country fled to Kalgan. The Salvation Army organized the Protestant Christians into a committee which collected what they could to help the refugees, Funds quickly gave out. Someone said, "If we invite the Catholics to join we can become the International Relief Committee and ask help from UNRA (United Nations Relief Administration) and CNRA (China National Relief Administration)." This was done, relief supplies arrived and were distributed where need was great in Kalgan and Inner Mongolia.

One day some Christians came to see me. Neighbors with a newborn child had confided with them that they planned to destroy their baby. "Don't do that," the Christian said, "It is wrong to kill your baby." "We have not enough to feed the five mouths we already have," We cannot feed another. "It is best the new baby die." The Christians said, "We have a proposal. There is a minister, a missionary, in our church. Maybe he will adopt your baby." "All right." If he will adopt our baby, she will live. If not, we do not have enough to feed her, she must die." The Christians came to us. Would we adopt the baby!'

I had a vision of our front porch covered with babies whose mothers could not feed them. I remembered a report of one Pentecostal missionary who did adopt babies. He had an orphanage of ninety-nine when he had to leave.

In our quandary we went to our Chinese pastor, Rev. Yao Pei. "Do you know," he said, "A couple has just come to me. They want to adopt a baby. Maybe they'll adopt this one." Thank God! They did!

Ruthlydia became an effective missionary in part because she had a sense of humor. One thing she---and I---survived was the painting of our living room floor. The Chinese word "yu" is used for both paint and other oils. Our unlettered workmen, anxious to please, got and used the finest cooking oil to paint this important floor. They proudly showed us their handiwork. The floor was shiny and beautiful. But somehow this paint was very slippery and never dried. A week later, it was removed ruefully by embarrassed workmen.

One day in the fall of 1948 an urgent telegram came from the Bishop, "Come to Beijing." "I'm not leaving. My house is all ready for Annual Conference," said Ruthlydia. "You are right", I answered. "We're not leaving. We are completely cut off."

Wesley Day in China

In a few days the motor road was opened and we drove --- a two day trip --- to Beijing. We bore a message from our executive committee. "Conditions are peaceful at Kalgan. Come up and hold Annual Conference."

But Bishop Kaung said, "Keep on going. There's an American refugee ship in Tientsin. Get on it."

Ruthlydia on Navy ship carrying refugees from Tientsin to Shanghai

Family on ship
Day family on ship to Shanghai

We asked to transfer to West China, and the Bishop agreed.

The Communists took over North China, so fast that the first American refugee ship was also the last. Thanks to Bishop Kaung's foresight, we were on it. Our mission car stayed in North China, but our Public Address system, and our two radios went with us. (One was portable, one was an 11 (or was it 12?) tube superheterodyne bought in America for $20.)

Bishop Ralph A. Ward was in Shanghai and gave his blessing to our travel to West China. We arrived in Chungking by riverboat in time for the West China Annual Conference in December 1948. I was appointed by Bishop W. Y. Chen as District Missionary of the Chungking-Chengdu District, to visit churches along the highway between these cities. There was one empty Methodist house on the West China Union University Campus in Chengdu and we were assigned to it.

Chengtu home
Chengtu home on campus of West China Union University

Link to article on West China Union University including map of the campus in the 1940's.

We spent a busy, quiet year, getting acquainted with the West China Conference churches. Jack went to the Canadian School, and Vivia to a Chinese Kindergarten. The summer of 1949 we joined missionary neighbors conducting a youth retreat on Mount Omei.

Scrapbook: A Chinese Table Grace used by the Day family, 1947-1951

Our P.A. system had excellent use when Stanley Jones held evangelistic services and when gospel teams visited our churches and held outdoor meetings.
Sidetrip: Return to China 1987

<--- The War Years | The Communists --->

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A Chinese Table Grace| Letter February 8 1947 | Letter June 10, 1947 | Letter March 9, 1948 | Letter July 18 1948 | 1948 in Beiping|

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Updated February 21, 2007