Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

“I am preparing for the end very quietly and calmly. The Lord is wonderfully near, and He will not fail me. I was very restless and excited while there seemed a chance of life, but God has taken away that feeling, and now I just pray for grace to meet the terrible end bravely. The pain will soon be over, and oh, the sweetness of the welcome above!”

Anticipating she would not escape the violence being perpetrated against foreigners and Christians in China, missionary Lizzie Atwater wrote these lines in a letter sent shortly before her death. She was pregnant when she was brutally hacked to death alongside her husband on 15 August 1900. Fellow missionaries Annie Eldred, the Reverend Anton Lundgren and his wife Elsa were also killed in the same incident.

Following the appointment of a new and bitterly anti-foreign prefect to the city of Fen-chau-fu, all missionaries had been ordered to leave. This group was offered an escort and under this pretence of protection they left the city. When they had gone 37 miles, the soldiers who were escorting them killed the missionaries.

Annie had served in China for a year and with tremendous zeal had applied herself to studying the Chinese language. The Lundgrens worked in Kie-Hiu; Mr Lundgren spent his time between an opium refuge and preaching, even reaching several high officials with the Gospel. Mrs Lundgren was highly regarded among the Chinese women whom she took every opportunity to evangelise. She also helped at the opium refuge, teaching Bible verses and hymns to the patients.

We praise thee, our Father, that even in the hour of darkness we can come to thee with confidence and unflinching faith. We know that thou art the ruler of nations and the maker of history; we know that nothing that men can do can ever frustrate thy holy and righteous will; we know that thou canst make even the wrath of men to praise thee. Help us, Father, to learn the lessons that have come out of conflict; help us to work for the new day that will bring us one step nearer the kingdom. Dear Lord and Father of mankind, grant that the day may not be too far off when the nations will become one, when war will be abolished, and when we shall all live peacefully together as brethren in thy holy family.

A Chinese Christian, In His Name (no. 212)

Photo by Kwdk Leung on Unsplash

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.