Missions to China's Heartland
The Letters of Hazel Todd of the China Inland Mission, 1920-1941
Edited with an Introduction by Robert Gardella
2009, 195 pages • photos • map • bibliography
ISBN 978-0-9836599-9-0 Paper $45.00
Based on a careful examination of the correspondence of Hazel Todd, this fascinating volume traces the ordinary and extraordinary activities of an American missionary woman facing the tumult of war and revolution in the rural heartland of China
Although consistently the largest and most influential Protestant missionary movement throughout China’s post-1842 history, the interdenominational China Inland Mission (CIM) is still one of its least understood agencies. As noted in a recent book on the CIM, its activities were consistently cloaked in self-censorship and promotional zeal. By the 1930s, CIM missionaries constituted fully a third of all Protestant missionaries in China, and women comprised an ever- increasing proportion of their ranks. True to their organization’s calling, CIM missionaries penetrated much of the vast interior of China and Mongolia, embodying an energetic theological conservatism and an unstinting capacity for coping with rural hardships and challenges.
Hazel Todd was one such CIM missionary. Leaving her native California in 1920, twenty-seven-year-old Hazel joined the CIM and for most of the next two decades dedicated her life to the rigorous evangelical project conceived of by her sponsoring agency. At the time of her arrival, China was a nation in search of itself (the last Chinese dynasty was overthrown just years before), a brutal process that inevitably defined her own life and missionary career. During her tenure there Hazel Todd endemic/epidemic warlordism, the rise of militant Nationalist and Communist political movements, and in 1937 the outbreak of full-fledged war between China and Japan.
Robert Gardella, Professor of History Emeritus at The United States Merchant Marine Academy is the author of Harvesting Mountains: Fujian and the China Tea Trade, 1757-1937 (1994), and co-editor of Chinese Business History (1998) and Contract and Property in Early Modorn China (2004).
“This volume of Hazel Todd’s letters offers us . . . descriptions and narratives of the lives of ordinary rural Christians in these years. The tempo of rural missionary life is evident in these letters. Hazel . . . also . . . gives us a profile of the rural Christian communities which grew around the foreign missionaries and the mission station. Relations between missionary and pastors and elders within the church reveal unexpected complexities.
Gardella has done a very competent job of editing and annotating this volume . . . Historians of Christian mission probably will find this work extremely valuable.”
— Daniel Bays in The China Quarterly