THE American conception of a missionary is "a man with a book, going out among the natives, preaching, preaching, always and everywhere preaching, 'as a dying man to dying men.'" So says Mr. William T. Ellis, who is at present engaged in looking at the transplanted preacher with unemotional eyes. His present field of observation is China, which, he says, "furnishes the greatest variety of missionaries." This prevalent idea is a misconception, we are told, for "there is probably as little of accosting wayfarers in China on the subject of religion as there is in America." The missionary is a man not different from those who preach at home except as, in the minds of his supporters, a kind of religious romanticism has invested him with a halo. "The man or woman who engages in foreign missionary work," says Mr. Ellis (in the New York Tribune, May 26), "is commonly regarded as a person of peculiar sanctity, chivalry, devotion, sacrifice, and courage." The "real" missionary is described in these words:
"Occasionally I have met a missionary, usually young and second-rate, who takes himself quite as seriously as his friends at home take him, and who, well aware that he is one of the noble army of martyr spirits, goes about wearing his halo with all the self-consciousness of a girl with a new Easter hat.
"Most missionaries, on the other hand, feel foolish because of the false attitude in which they are placed by their idealizing admirers at home. Some of them have used quite unmissionary forcibleness of speech on this point. They say that they are neither extraordinary saints nor heroes, and that they are not living lives of physical hardship and sacrifice; those who really have hardships say nothing about them. That, in reality, they do not correspond to the image of themselves ever being held up in sermons, speeches, and articles no one knows quite so well as themselves. If permitted to speak frankly, they would say, as many have said to me, that they have fewer material discomforts than the average home missionary or country pastor."
The missionary himself may have shared the romantic views of the home people before he entered upon the work of the foreign field; but Mr. Ellis shows how his change of view comes about through perfectly natural causes. Thus:
"The recruit reaches the field in a state of spiritual exaltation. He has renounced home, friends, country, and worldly prospects, in order to preach the Gospel to the heathen. Fully expectant of hardships and self-denial and possible martyrdom, he has nerved himself to the worst. His first shock comes when he finds a welcome awaiting him in a comfortable American home, possibly better than the one he has left. He looks about in vain for the crosses that he has strengthened his shoulders to bear. Then, instead of life on the qui vive for the conversion of the heathen, he finds existence quite a hum-drum matter. He discovers that he is not to preach to crowds or to converse by the wayside upon salvation, or to teach the ignorant or to heal the sick; two solid years must be devoted to the deadening duty of learning the language. Not romance, but routine, such as schoolboys know, is his lot. There is no glamour about mastering Chinese characters and Chinese pronunciation; it is all grind, grind, grind, until the poor student wonders whether, after all, missionary work is worth while.
"During these first years, which plane off the corners of the soul's enterprise and initiative, the new missionary becomes adapted to his environment; the heathen are no longer a novelty; they are everywhere—in his kitchen, in his study, in every highway and byway. He meets them whichever way he turns. Soon the missionary discovers that the heathen half a world away are far more interesting than the heathen swarming about him on every hand. In this latter fact is a depressing power difficult to define or describe, but tremendously real in experience. The atmosphere of a heathen land seems to steal a man's enthusiasm. It reins the war-horse, chafing at the bit, down to the dog-trot of the livery hack. So the ordinary missionary finds himself plodding [R4042 : page 244] along established lines and living not at all the life he expected to live when he sailed from his native shores.
"My own judgment has affirmed the criticism made to me in numerous specific cases that the dwellings of the missionaries are entirely too sumptuous for persons of their vocation. Rightly or wrongly, the Church and the world associate the idea of sacrifice with the missionary's calling; the natives, too, quickly come to see the apparent discrepancy between the preaching of self-denial and the practise of material luxury; some of the most serious strictures upon the missionary's style of living have come to me from native preachers. Often, I am convinced, the fault lies directly with the boards at home; some missionaries have lamented, in my hearing, the elaborateness and impressiveness of their residences. They deplore the contrast between their houses and those of the wealthiest natives. The missionary, they reason, should be the last person conspicuous for evidences of worldly position. The theory that it is necessary to 'impress' the heathen is utterly fallacious; the disciple cannot improve upon the spirit of his Master, the lowly Nazarene."
This Convention is timed to take advantage of the "TORONTO FAIR" excursion rates. Besides, there are special excursions to the Falls every year from many large cities and intermediate places. Inquire of your railway agent for particulars and judge what will suit you best.
A rate of one-way fare, plus one-third, is granted by the railroads to our Society for the round trip. Remember this and use it IF YOU CANNOT DO BETTER. This is known as the Certificate Plan. You pay one full fare and get a Certificate which entitles you to purchase your return ticket for one-third the regular fare.
There will be a special excursion train of Truth people from Chicago. They have a round trip rate of $14.05 to Toronto, Canada (via Niagara Falls), and return. They will be glad to have the company of any of the friends to whom their arrangement would be a convenience or a saving. Address, Dr. L. W. Jones, 2024 Washington Boulevard, Chicago.
The Toledo, Ohio, friends have secured a very favorable rate via the Lake Erie night steamers to Niagara and return, $4.00 (stateroom berths, 75c extra). They, too, will welcome any to whom their arrangements may prove convenient or economical. Address, C. H. S. Kuehn, 620 Chestnut St., Toledo.
Cleveland, Ohio, on Lake Erie, also has fine night steamers for Buffalo and Niagara Falls. An excursion rate of $3.00 has been secured (single berths, 75c extra). Friends from other places will be welcome to join on same terms. Address, John G. Kuehn, 922 Prospect Ave., Cleveland.
The WATCH TOWER CONVENTION EXCURSION Certificate tickets will be the cheapest for the friends in this vicinity—round trip, $8.87. Consequently arrangements will be made for two first-class cars specially reserved for their use, starting from here at 9 a.m. Central time (10 o'clock Pittsburg time), Thursday, August 29. Friends from neighboring places may be provided for by advising W. D. Witt, 612 Arch St., Allegheny. Such should see that their tickets read via the Pittsburg & Lake Erie R.R., and do not forget the Certificate.
Those desiring $1.50 to $2 per day hotels, or lodging only at 50c. to $1 per night (taking meals at restaurants), will do well to let us secure accommodations for them in advance through brethren of that vicinity.
Write of this to the WATCH TOWER, Allegheny, on separate letter sheet, indicating sex (and if colored), stating the number of your party, and which two would occupy same double bed. The 50c. lodging is usually for several in a room and two in each bed. Separate bed and room $1 and up each night. Add on envelope the words Convention Department.
A dear friend of the Truth is desirous of helping any of the Colporteurs who may need his aid to attend the Niagara Convention. Accordingly he has placed in the Society's treasury a sum of money to be thus used to the extent of one-half the expenses of any Colporteur now on our lists as such, and from whom we have had book orders and sales reports during July and August.
It rejoices us to believe that this worthy generosity will enable quite a number of our dear Colporteurs to attend the Convention and profit by the Colporteur fellowship and instructions who otherwise might not be able to do so. We urge such to accept the offer.