Blind Chang: Martyr Of Manchuria (Part 2)
By Rosalind Goforth
For five years after his baptism, Blind Chang continued to share the Gospel throughout his home region. Guided by his staff, Blind Chang went from village to village preaching the Word of Life, where he was formerly known as the cleverest gambler and swindler in the neighborhood. Some of the neighbors ridiculed him as mad, but a farmer who had been reading the Bible in his family for years without understanding it much, stood up for the blind man and insisted that he should be heard. This farmer, along with quite a number of other men became believers. By 1892 one hundred and seventy had been received into the church by baptism. At a number of places, Christian services were held regularly and later seven chapels came to be erected as a result of this work.
One of the most remarkable things about Blind Chang was his memory. He learned the whole New Testament by heart (by chapter and verse), and could quote a good deal of the Old Testament. Had it not been for the instruction given him during two visits made to the Blind School in Peking where he learned to both read and write, the Bible would have been to him a sealed book. Upon his return to Manchuria after his last visit to Peking, he brought with him such portions of the Scriptures as had been stereotyped for the blind. For a time he carried a portion of the Scriptures with him wherever he went. Great interest was created and crowds gathered to see the marvel of a blind man reading with the tips of his fingers!
The next twelve years his ministry led, for the most part, away from his home region. Blind Chang from the time of his conversion had the spirit and vision of a pioneer. There seemed to be that within him which kept him ever seeking to reach the most needy – those untouched, unreached by the Gospel. Think of this man – blind, for the most part alone, with only his stout staff to depend on, sometimes with a child, rarely an adult, as guide; tramping over rough mountain roads, dangerous for those who could see; ever onward, ever with that impelling desire to make Christ known to sinners such as he had been; ever eager to tell the story of what the Lord had done for him; and this year after year in cold and heat, in a climate of great extremes.
One of his guides shared how the blind man often met with bitter persecution and endured great hardships, especially when going to a new region. Children were encouraged to pelt him with clods or bricks, curses were hurled after him as the people drove him from their doors. Worst of all the dogs were set upon him. What such attacks must have meant to one blind and unable to forfend their onslaughts! Yet none of these things moved him, neither counted he his life dear unto him, for again he would return seeking a hearing for his wonderful soul-saving, life-giving message, till public opinion turned in his favor and victory came. Doors opened, and being blind, he was allowed to spend hours in the daytime teaching the women and children while the men were busy in the fields. When evening came the men gathered in summer time under the trees, in winter in the homes, while Blind Chang gave to them all he knew. He had one message. He preached Jesus to them for he knew nothing but Christ and Him crucified.
He received no salary, but the people gave him willing support. In grateful return for the blind man’s teaching, women cooked, washed, sewed and mended for him. As time would pass, however, the seeing Christians came to realize that they knew more than their teacher. Some of these converts were men of gifts and means and eminently fitted to be leaders in the church, who could carry on the work far better than the blind evangelist. Then it was Blind Chang who came to feel the old pioneer spirit stir within him again. On he would press to regions beyond, untouched, there to go through the same persecutions, yes, and to gain the same victories as before. It has been written of Blind Chang: “His was but to kindle the light and then pass on.” And all this gladly, willingly, because of his Christ-like passion for the souls of men.
For some years previous to 1898 the anti-missionary, anti-Christian attitude of the Chinese seemed to be decreasing until there came to be what we might call a pro-Christian wave pass over Manchuria. During this short period, numbers entered the Christian church. Little did any, either missionary or Chinese Christian, dream this was but as the calm before the storm. The winter of 1899-1900 was not far advanced before the rumblings of the tempest could be heard.
(To be continued)
– Adapted from the book Blind Chang: Missionary Martyr of Manchuria by Rosalind Goforth and also Illustrious Chinese Christians by W. P. Bentley.