National Leadership in China

A Survey of Mission Problems, Methods, and Relationships.

By EDGAR H. JAMES, Missionary, Central China Union Mission

Leaders are born, but they may also be developed. This development comes not  only through education and training, but  also by being given an opportunity to try. One of the great needs of a leader is a thorough back­ing by those he is to lead. This backing de­velops as confidence is earned through the years and a leader gives evidence that he has ability to lead. This has been particularly true of China. The present rulers of China were a long time in winning the confidence of the peo­ple, but that trust has now become spontaneous.

Many of the young men of China are endeav­oring by education and training to prepare themselves for leadership. Far back in an interior city in China, away from the regular routes of travel, I was asked by a group of well-educated young men to give a lecture on the essential qualities of leadership. Among other things that were stressed was the need of a leader's being able to do in an efficient way the things he is trying to lead others in doing. The discussion that followed showed that this idea had found a place in their thinking.

Times of crisis have always revealed qualities of leadership that we did not realize existed. Doctor Djang, of "Yale in China," is an out­standing illustration of those who are equal to the responsibility placed upon them. "Yale in China" was established by graduates of Yale University. It has become one of the leading institutions in China for the training of doctors, nurses, and educators. The buildings have now been put to the flames, together with so much that was built up for the good of the Chinese people. In spite of the difficulties of the past five years, however, Doctor Djang, the present leader of this institution, is still carrying on in a noble way, unhindered by the lack of commodious buildings and elaborate equipment.

Last year I met Doctor Djang on the Burma Road. As he was traveling with a group of young doctors, a hole had been torn in the bottom of the gas tank of the station wagon in which they were riding. Being close to the city to which they were traveling, the younger men secured other means of transportation and went into the city, each with his own baggage. Doctor Djang stayed with the driver and finally enlisted my help to get the car to town. A rub­ber tube on the carburetor, sucking from a half-gallon tin of gas, soon brought the car into the city. This accomplished, the doctor gath­ered his own things and found another way to take them to his home.

By his invitation I went several miles out into the country to visit the medical training center. Small, grass-roofed houses, scattered about over the hills, were the living quarters, classrooms, and laboratories of this great insti­tution. Doctor Djang's office was in one end of one of these small huts. He had a small desk and a few chairs on a dirt floor, with living quarters in the other end of the hut—quite different from the well-appointed office to which he had been accustomed—but he was happy to be able to carry on, doing both the large and menial duties that devolve upon a leader in times of crisis. Other departments of this great educational institution are scattered in the hills, on the outskirts of other much-bombed cities—scattered many hundreds of miles apart, but all operating under the kindly, efficient leadership of a humble yet great man.

The leadership of our own work in many parts of China has been placed upon the shoulders of men of experience. I have confidence not only that we will see the work develop, but that there will come out of this experience a leadership which will not need to be replaced, if and when we as missionaries are able to return to our work in China. It is my opinion that we should return, not to be the leaders, but to be helpers in the great task of finishing the work of God in China.

Loyalty and Co-operation Manifest

The following incident illustrates the attitude that will no doubt dominate many in response to national leadership. A Chinese worker had been away from his home province for some years, and he desired to be transferred back home when it could be arranged without diffi­culty. Another Chinese worker was chosen to take the responsibility of the work in this same province, should it be necessary for all the missionaries to leave. When I was pre­paring to depart for the States, the brother who wanted to be transferred came to me and re­quested that before I left, arrangements mikht be made for his transfer home. He said, "While you are still here, it is all right for me to ask for a transfer, but if the work is left in the hands of a Chinese leader, loyalty to national leadership would demand that I should not ask for a change, once he was placed in charge."

This means that our Chinese workers and people are going to support and stand by those of their own people who are appointed to carry responsibility. This same support has already been shown in many instances. Pray for the national leaders of the church in the lands of the Far East who are left with the responsibility of finishing the work of God at such a time as this.


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By EDGAR H. JAMES, Missionary, Central China Union Mission

May 1943

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