Click here to
listen to an audio file of this interview (54 minutes).
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the first oral history interview of Mr. Otto Schoerner (Collection 55, #T1) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded is omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
Chinese place names are spelled in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing" because that is how Schoerner pronounced it.
This transcript was done by John Horn and Robert Shuster and completed December, 1988.
CN 55, Tape #T1 Interview of Otto Schoerner by Robert Shuster, December 13, 1978.
SHUSTER: ...by Robert Shuster for the Missionary Sources Collection at Wheaton College. This interview took place at Mr. Shoerner's home on 9550 South Holman Avenue inEvergreen Park onDecember 13th at 10:45 a.m. Well, Mr. Shoerner, maybe we shouldstart with some of your family background. What year were you born and where?
SHOERNER: I was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in August, nineteen hundred six. I'm 72 years of age now.
SHUSTER: And your family came from Germany?
SHOERNER: Yes, my father and mother were immigrants from Germany and settled close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Uniontown is, and my father had a business there. German Confectioner. He learned the bakery business in America, and it was there that I was brought up as a boy.
SHUSTER: And how old were you when your family returned to Germany?
SHOERNER: I was...I had just started school in Uniontown, and my parents returned to visit their pa...their own people in Germany--my mother from Bavaria, and my father from Wuttemberg. Because the first World War broke out very shortly after that, we were stuck in Germany for around six years. My father during that time actually had, did come back to America before the United States got into the war, and he was allowed to return to Germany from America only because he promised to bring his family back, but then in the mean while the United States got into the world war at that time (roughly in 1917, I think) and we were stuck there during all of that time.
SHUSTER: And after the end of the war, was... you had some difficulty returning to the U.S.A.?
SHOERNER: Yes, my father wanted to return to the States; he still had I think some property, and he was an American citizen, naturalized citizen, and he wanted to bring his three children--myself, my brother and sister--back to the States. And so the only we could return at that time (the shipping lanes were not open yet) we came into Holland, and then my father went to the Hague to renew our passport. He found out that because he had been away from the States for more than I believe two years, he had lost his citizenship, and it took a whole year till that was re-established. Of course, Germany had been at war with America, and there was still strong feeling against especially Germans who had left and now wanted to come back, and so it took a whole year until we came back, and it took some time before my father was re-established in the business again, this time in Butler, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. My father very shortly after that was killed in an automobile accident, so my mother, who was very capable, and my brother and I (first myself, my brother) took over the business until I was 21 years of age and I had felt the call of the Lord to go to train for His service and things were...had changed in such a way that I was able to leave home, and my brother took over the work. It was then that I went to Moody Bible Institute, feeling that God had led me there, to train, and while I was there I felt the call of God to China.
SHUSTER: What was your religious background before you went to Moody?
SCHOERNER: I was brought up in the Lutheran church, a German Lutheran church, andone thing that helped me very much, there was a Christian businessman, who by the way later on became a trustee of Moody Bi...of Wheaton College, Mr. Charles Troutman. You may recall his son, Charles Troutman, Junior, as he was called, later on became the head of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, But we all... I knew Charles as a boy, and we all...we were helped by the ministry of his father, a very fine Christian businessman, who later on, after I finished my training, supported me for 20 years in China.
SHUSTER: When did you commit your life to Christ?
SCHOERNER: I was a young man in my teens, I cannot quite recall, but Mr. Troutman had a boys' Bible study group (Boys' Club, we used to call it) and I came to know Christ as my Saviour, learned to love the Word of God, and began studying the Bible by correspondence, even apart from my own home church, which would have liked me to enter into the Lutheran ministry rather than go with an independent, interdenominational mission. But this is the way God led.
SHUSTER: In your Lutheran church at home, was there a great emphasis or often was there mention about the missions in China?
SCHOERNER: No. The particular group to which I belonged had missionary work in India. Our pastor's son was a missionary in India, and he was very much interested...they were very much interested in my going to China, and because a member in that church and his family helped to support me when I was still in the...single. They actually took me on as their missionary for quite a number of years.
SHUSTER: How did you come to decide to go to Moody Bible Institute instead of a Lutheran college?
SCHOERNER: Well, there again, it is interesting. I began studying the Bible by correspondence; I took one course under Dr. Grays. I started the Scofield course, and Mr. Troutman, in order to help young people, almost every Founders Week Conference in the winter took some of the young people up there just for a, for a visit. And it was those visits...
SHUSTER: To Moody?
SCHOERNER: ...to Moody, two or three Founders Week Conferences in those early days when visitors, especially young people, could live right in the student dormitory. That's what the Lord used in my life to give me the inspiration.
SHUSTER: What is it that impressed you about Moody?
SCHOERNER: Well, of course, I...having been brought up in the surroundings that I had, what impressed me about Moody was the Christian fellowship of young people with similar vision, and whenever you go into a dormitory and you could talk about the things that I was interested in, made such a deep impression on me that I felt I wanted to study there at that time.
SHUSTER: And when you went to Moody, what was your educational background at that time?
SCHOERNER: Well, at that time, having had part of my education in Germany, part of it in America, I did not have a high school diploma, but I took some extra studies which at that time was given to those who did not have a high school diploma, especially in English, and then I took the Missionary Medical Course, as they called it then, only very minor medical studies, and I graduated from there way back in 1931 after a little over three years of study.
SHUSTER: What was the Missionary Medical...what courses made up the Missionary Medical?
SCHOERNER: Well, in those daysthey they they taught us some dentistry; we were able to witness some operations in Cook County Hospital at that time; and we were given just a minor ideas of minor surgery anda little bit of anatomy, but very little, just to give us some idea, which, by the way, was very helpful to me later on when I was in China when I worked with a doctor. And he had no nurse, he had no one to help him, and every bit of knowledge came in so handy. He felt that I was as much as a nurse to him at that time. I did some...I didn't try any dentistry, but I had to pull teeth when I was there in Turkestan among various tribes of people and Chinese.
SHUSTER: Do you remember any other courses or particular professors at Moody who were especially helpful to you?
SCHOERNER: Well, at Moody I recall with great interest Dr. Fitzwalter and Dr. Gray who were great teachers. I also appreciated very much Dr. Hockman, who had been himself, he was the head of the Missionary Department, and he himself had been a missionary to China, and his teaching in Missionary Principles and what we call now by anthropological names and so on, cultural anthropology and so on, I felt I...when I went to China ultimately, I felt that all the training I had had really was most helpful to me in getting adjusted, acculturized, you know, and doing away with more modern ideas of culture shock and so on, I felt somehow with the study that I had and the personal reading that I have enjoyed through the years, I felt somehow or other at home. I felt that the Lord had prepared me for the work.
SHUSTER: So you felt that the course at Moody was very well designed.
SCHOERNER: It...I I felt it was, to me personally, and I have found since studying nowadays is it's after all how much you yourself put into it that can mean most toyou in later life in your work. I felt too that the little experience I had in my father's business, the little training I had in business college, was wonderful preparation for the mission field in those early days as I went out in 1931.
SHUSTER: And where'd you go to business college?
SHOERNER: It was right in Butler, Pennsylvania. It was really an evening school. My father, realizing my desire not to give my whole life to be a baker, he wanted to train me at least to get a way of learning how to run a business and so on.
SHUSTER: And what kind of courses did you take there?
SHOERNER: Well, I I began...I must admit I said it was only partial, I began to learn how to type,learn a little bit about business administration, but it was so long ago I can't really recall. See, that's more than 50 years back, I cannot recall really the su...the subjects that I took.
SHUSTER: And you alsomet your future wife at Moody for the first time?
SHOERNER: Yes, my future wife was a Wheaton graduate in 1930, and there was great interest in China because the China Inland Mission between the years of 1929 and 31 had called for 200 missionaries to come and join the work, missionaries and candidates from all over the world, and the Lord wonderfully answered so that by the end of 1931 from Great Britain, from North America, from Australia and New Zealand, actually two hundred and one new missionaries joined the China Inland Mission, and we were called sort of the last of the 200. My wife.... There were in that year...I can't recall, I think there were, oh, a dozen and a half Moody students who went to Wheaton at that time, among them some who had been Wheaton graduates as well, and some had come just for some initial...or some additional Bible study at Moody. I think there were four or five girls. One of the young ladies who later on became my wife's fellow worker who joined us in China [unclear] was Betty Scott, and she became Betty Stam later on. John Stam was a personal friend of mine, and John and Betty Stam, of course, are well known to those who know much of missionary work in those early days, of course. They becme martyrs to the roving Communist bandits way back in 1934, 35.
SHUSTER: And when did you first hear a call to China?
SHOERNER: Well, as as I look back, it took...it took some years, it was not something that came all of a sudden. This Mr. Troutman, who was my spiritual father, was most helpful and wise. He would give me books to read. One of the early books that I read, and it's still published, was republished not so long ago, abbreviated, was called A Thousand Miles of Miracle in China telling the story of those who had gone through the Boxer years, which is nineteen hundred, when over 140 CIM missionaries were killed in the Boxer Rebellion. And then what was the greatest influence in my life was the life story of Hudson Taylor written in two volumes by Mrs. Howard Taylor and her husband who was the son of Hudson Taylor. That was really the inspiration in my life. When I was at Moody and studied more, one of the books that made a deep impression on me was the life of Borden of Yale. Borden, a Chicago boy, son of the big Borden family, that milk company, who also felt the call to work among the Mohammedens in northwest China but after he graduated from Yale he went to Egypt to study Arabic and then caught one of the diseases (I can't recall which it was) and he died there. But his his mother in his memory built the Borden Memorial Hospital in northwest China on the borders of Mongolia on the one side and Tibet on the other side to reach Muslims (Moslems I used to call them), but it was the reading of that book that the Lord used in my life to give me a vision of the need among Moslems in northwest China. And it was that that the Lord used ultimately to bring me and five others--there were six of us that were sent to Chinese Turkestan. And more wonderful to me as I look back after I came from my experience at Wheaton and was sent back to China, I actually was sent to be the business manager of Borden Memorial Hospital and became the superintendent of the work when the Communists came when we wanted to relieve our doctors from administrative work. So the Lord used a book, a life to inspire me. I never dreamt then that some day I would be so closely linked with that hospital built in his memory. To me that's sort of an interestingexperience of the guidance of God, how He does that through one's life.
SHUSTER: How did you come under the auspices of theChina Inland Mission?
SCHOERNER: Well, there again, reading Hudson Taylor's life and then beginning as a young man when I worked in our business at home, sending funds to the China Inland Mission in which I had become interested, receiving their magazine, meeting numbers of their missionaries, it just seemed to be almost automatic that was the place that I should go. I can't fully describe it, but God has ways of speaking to our hearts that we can't always explain, but I approved of their methods of work. I was inspired the way they lived by faith, not not asking for funds publicly, and I felt that this was the way the Lord was guiding me into His work and service.
SHUSTER: Did you have a period of internship or candidacy with them?
SCHOERNER: Yes. In those days the period was not as long as it is now, but I went to Philadelphia after going through a a long period ofapplication when they want to get all of your your...to see...to to know you really through what you write in your applications, what you believe in your...in your...in your doctrine, and uh...and then uh...the...well, really the the vision that you had for the work that the Lord was calling you to because some felt more specifically interested in area, in evangelism, some more in Bible teaching and so on.... we went through that period of time and I was accepted way back in the in the summer of 1931 and then sailed to China with a group of...oh, there were I think by the time all the young men had come together at language school there were some 70...60 or 70 young men in one area and 60 or 70 young women in.... There were two language schools. In those days we believed in separation, you see. [chuckles] And one of the things that was understood in those days is that...especially in those pioneerwork that they were going out to, the 200...that we should remain unmarried for for two years so that we could...
SHUSTER: And why was that?
SCHOERNER: The reason was really so that you couldbecome...get to know the language, pass your first or second examination, without the encumberance of a family and with children and which often was easier for a man but was very hard on the wife, so it was good, and I thank God that my wife had the opportunity for all of her language studies. We have uh for the ladies four exams, which may take about four years, material to study; for the men we had to take six examinations, studying a little bit of Chinese classics and writing and so on, and we both of us had the privilege of finishing all of that prescribed language work before we had to think of a family. Of course, I realize that's a little old fashioned, but it was a discipline for which at the present time I am grateful that the Lord did it that way. Now it did not work out for everyone. We had some young young couples that went out married; we had one or two that came with children. But way back in 1931that this was not the common thing that it is now. Most missionaries go out married, and days have changed, of course. Things have changed and and even in the Orient and in all of these countries abroad there have been great advances all, through all these years, but in those early days things were just a little bit different, and we were in the hinterland, you see, that wasn't open. It was in the days before, before airplane service, air mail and so on, and many places in China were no trains, and travel was very, very long and difficult.
SHUSTER: With uh....Now you mentioned sailed out in '32?
SCHOERNER: '31, 1931.
SHUSTER: '31. Was there any kind of training or preparation that you did before you left...
SCHOERNER: Not in America, but when we came to China, the China Inland Mission had its own training center. It was largely studying the first what we call the first examination of of the language course that was undertaken. They had their own school there, you see. And that included also learningthe history of the mission, a little bit of the history of China; it was sort of a training to feel at home in the new country, in the new land, culturally and and in many other ways.
SHUSTER: How did you travel to China? I imagine you travelled by boat, uh....
SHOERNER: In those days we traveled by boat across the Pacific. It took us three weeks to get across via Japan to Shanghai.
SHUSTER: Did you spend any time in Japan at all, or just....?
SHOERNER: We just....as visitors. While while the boat stopped there we just stopped off there for a day in several of the harbors. We happened to be on a Japanese boat in those days, and so they called in more Japanese ports. Tokyo...well, it was Yokahama, Kobe, and some of the other large cities. Later on one....and in our journeys back and forth from the Pacific we called off Nagasaki and from various other ports in Japan.
SHUSTER: Did you find the Japanese friendly or....?
SCHOERNER: Oh, yeah. In those early days they were always a friendly people. We, we, of course, couldn't speak their language, but they were always very interesting to us as tourists, but we didn't get to know them as well because we, we of course, were mainly bound for China, and when we first came there we really didn't know the language either.
SHUSTER: And you landed first in China in Shanghai?
SCHOERNER: In Shanghai, and then very soon after we had landed there we were sent up the river [coughs] the Anking...the, the, to a town called Anking, the Yangtze River, called, a town called Anking where the the China Inland Mission had a language school.
SHUSTER: What was your....You lived for some time in the...in thewestern compound in Shanghai?
SHUSTER: For a few days?
SCHOERNER: We lived for a few days there, yeh. It was...it was in many ways, of course, it was right in in Shanghai itself, but it was a large compound. It had more of the facilities that we have here in this country. But once we went to the language school, our common facilities were nill, you see, and it's not anything like it is once you were in an interior city. They had no sewage systems, and that's where we really began to live native, you might say, even though in our own...the homes, the places that we lived in, we we were better off than the person on the street, we were still learning, but we, we in the first winter we had little oil stoves to keep the room just warm, but we had to learn to do what the Chinese did, put on more clothing, more sweaters and andand gowns that would keep you warm, because we had no...nothing like central heating.
SHUSTER: Do you remember what your first impressions were on landing in China?
SCHOERNER: Well, let me tell you, it may sound funny, but the thing that I always remembered was the awful smell. The the the waters were polluted, the harbors were polluted, and since the Chinese use what we call the night soil, which of course the manuring, human manuring, that seemed as you walked out in the country, that was the things you noticed most, and the hardest to get used to. I think I never got used to it, but some people found it harder than others, but we took it as part of life, the new life we were to live, we had to learn. Butunpaved streets, you'd get mud and dirt, you had to bring mud into the house, and all the...no plumbing at all, no central heating, every little area had to be heated in cold winters later on in in the interior--those were all the things we expected, but it was always a little harder to get really used to those things.
SHUSTER: How long were you at language school?
SCHOERNER: We went to the language school in the fall and stayed there the whole first winter, and it was usually consideredbest for any new missionary to become somewhat acclimatized and not to put into the heat first, rather be there in the winter because certain areas of China are very hot, in the northern part it is cooler; you see, China is a large country. Butwe were there for for roughly six, seven months, and then our mission leaders in consultation with each of the individuals thendirected the peole to go to various stations. And in the China Inland Mission we had large areas where where the church government was Presbyterian, and most of those who had a Presbyterian background would go there, unless they desired to go other places. Some were strongly Baptistic in their areas. We had also in the China Inland Mission many from England where the Church of England, or the Episcopalian, church government was used. And so it seemed to be automatic that certain people would go here or there, but there were many among them who were not tied to any...not bound. For instance, I had a Lutheran background but my, my knowledge of the Scripture was much broader than my own denomination or else I would have never joined an interdenominational mission, and I was willing to go anywhere where I felt the Lord could use me, and there were six young men who were specially interested in reaching Muslims, and we were set aside. We were the very last young men to be designated, and we were asked to go up into Chinese Turkestan, the province called Sinkiang, S-I-N-K-I-A-N-G, Sinkiang, but we pronounce it Sin-chiang, and actually if you look at your map it's called Chinese Turkestan or.... It's it's north of Tibet--it's the westernmost province of China. In more recent years part of it has become Russian, but it's west of Mongolia, north of Tibet, and it borders on Siberia.
SHUSTER: You mentioned thatcertain areas of China were Presbyterian, certain Baptist--which areas were they?
SHOERNER: Well, this was only the work of the China Inland Mission, the way they appor...since since the China Inland Mission worked in the interior areas, for instance, the province of Szechwan way out west, many of the workers there were working under the Episcopalian.... They had their own bishop, the Chinese bishops, and it was directed according to the way, in in somewhat simplified form, the way it was done in England and in the Episcopalian churches in this country. And some of them were in areas were more Baptist in their viewpoint. They immersed, see. Like in the Episcopalian areas they wouldn't do that. Yet strange to say we have found that many Chinese no matter what group they belong they preferred immersion.
SHUSTER: What were the....
SHOERNER: This happened....
SHUSTER: What were the Baptist areas?
SHOERNER: I could not actually tell you now. I knew that where many of our Presbyterians were, were, workers were was Hunan H-U-N-A-N, and some of our people went to Hunan there. And others who who were more or lesslet's say Bible church background as we know it in this country, they were more or less all Baptistic in their viewpoint, and the Chinese as a rule did not go in very strongly for denominational differences, and we did not emphasize that, and it often just had some minor relationship to church government, whether they had presbyters or whether they had priests and deacons like they have in the Episcopal church or if they had just ordinary elders, you see. And the Chinese.... It was very simplified, at least within the China Inland Mission. Of course, there were large denominations who had worked in given areas. I don't know if I could tell very distinctly where these were. This was of course 40 years ago.
SHUSTER: What kind of administrative setup did the China Inland Mission have? How was authority...?
SHOERNER: Well, it....yeah. Well, now, like the China Inland Mission with its missionaries, of course, we had a Director. Each country in the home has a home director. We had a director on the field. But then in each province there was a provincial superintendent who guided the work, with... working together with the missionaries. But within the churches our, our desire was as much as possible and as soon as possible is to allow the Chinese to govern their own churches. Wherever possible a Chinese worker or Chinese pastor would take over the leadership, and that was not always possible when the work was in its beginnings, and it is only in later years when this was more strongly emphasizedthat emphasis was madeput on the fact that we wanted the Chinese to take the leadership in the, in the guidance of the churches, Chinese evangelists. And within the China Inland Mission as much as possible, they did not want to pour in a lot of money like supporting pastors or supporting evangelists because they wanted the Chinese church to learn this was their responsibility. But those things took a period of time to accomplish.
SHUSTER: So within your providence, you would be, you as missionaries would be responsible to the provincial superior, and he oversaw the, the churches...
SHUSTER: the hospitals...
SHUSTER: and other activities?
SCHOERNER: Yeah. Now like such things as schools and hospitals in the early days at least it was always a foreign national, a British doctor or an American doctor who was responsible. But more and more as there were Chinese who were trained, especially nurses.... We, for instance, had one Chinese doctor in our hospital up there in the northwest...more and more administrative responsibilities were turned over to them. But that was not always possible. It was more possible in the coastal cities, you see, such large cities like Shanghai, Tientzin, Chingdao, Peking, Nanking--these were large centers where often there were able, capable Chinese doctors and Chinese personnel who could take over. But we were most of our time in the interior where those things had not developed so much. That is, it was only when the Japanese war began, and many of these trained Chinese moved into the interior--in fact, later on the Chinese government moved all the way up into Chungking--that there were certain changes, but there were...it was not very easy because when once we were cut off from the coast (the Japanese war had begun) supplies were almost impossible to get through, and it was later on only, if you recall those long-ago days, the Burma Road was opened, supplies came in from India, see, so our men were involved in that--Americans, you see, when the war began with America. But that had its great influence on the people themselves. And we found...very interestingly, we found that many Chinese themselves were not accustomed and weren't even ready to live in the interior in their own country. I recall when I was asked (designated, we said in those days) designated to go to Chinese Turkestan, the Chinese always would say to me, "Oh, that means che-kou [sp?]." Che-kou [sp?] means you eat bitterness. They realized you go up there you're isolated. For instance, mail would take three to six months to get through because it had to go by by courier, either by camel or on horseback. There were no railroads. There was a caravan road, but it went as fast as three miles an hour by ox cart, they.... Occasionally the mail went a little faster. But way in the interior in those days things were very slow, and supplies didn't come in, and and we had gifted Chinese: engineers, doctors that were trained in America or in England, who preferred to stay in the coastal areas where it was much easier for them to use their skills. And they were not always interested to go way in the interior until the Japanese war pushed many of them way back into the hinterland. Whole universities, Chinese universities, moved up there, and they tried to teach and train them, but but under great difficulties. They wouldn't...a university wouldn't have a lab, for instance, to teach, you know, in medical, in medical school. Amazing what they tried to do, but, of course, it was very, very difficult--and never with the highest of standards because they just didn't have the equipment.
SHUSTER: With the CIM was there a particular strategy for reaching China? How did they decide what areas they were going to send missionaries to what work they were going to emphasize?
SCHOERNER: Well, the China Inland Missionbelieved that it's main ministry was what we now call church planting, evangelism. They did in certain of the areas do medical work. We believe that our Lord went out to heal, and it was linked together in His ministry, and we felt often in certain areas that it would help to reach people. Now, for example, after I was married I was in this Lanchow hospital, Borden Memorial Hospital, and it was a center, was built especially to draw Muslims who came..the Turk...we had Turkey Muslims that came all the way down in northwest China. There were Mongols who lived just a little north of us, and there were the Tibetans that were also west of us, and they came to that hospital because we had a a a sort of a welcome sign in our hospital in there in Tibetan, and the Tibetans would come to our hospital because they knew that that we would treat them, and we would make it as easy for them as possible. For instance, they lived in in certain part of the hospital that was more like home to them in the in the simplest, which we think of almost as the crudest way of living, almost on the ground, you see. But it was an opportunity to reach Moslems and and Mongols in Tibet, and there, a medical work often was wonderful in in in the first contact. For instance, my little experience, my little knowledge of medicine stood us in great stead when I went my, for my first term into Turkestan. The old missionary who was then a a a oh, roughly seventy years of age, Mr. Hunter. He had he had started wherever he went, brought with him the simplest of medicines, like potassium permanganate, I don't know if you know what....we use that for for washing, for washing wounds.
SCHOERNER: For sterilizing. Orjust the simplest of medicines, even aspirin, we couldn't get those later on because the coast was cut off, but we used some of these medicines to to help people. They would come to you; they feel if you did not help them that you just, that you knew but you were not willing to do it. So, often we had to do things that we really didn't want to do; we didn't want to be sidetracked. But it gave us an opportunity to help people. For instance, I, I would have a Qazak from the mountains come down. He said, "I had an aching tooth, and I went to the blacksmith, and he chipped off the top, just with a chisel and a hammer. But the ache is still further down." And when I looked it was so bad I was able with the forceps, which I got from our doctor, to pull the roots. A little helpful thing like that gave us entrance. For instance, my fellow worker and I (there was just one other young man, Mr. Joyce and I) we were able to go up into the mountains to to minister just a little bit to these Qazaks and Turkey people that you could not reach otherwise if you did not, if you did not know any medicine.
SHUSTER: Wasthe financial support for the missionaries, was that raised by churches, or did that come directly fromthe C...CIM?
SCHOERNER: Our individual support as missionaries came through the mission. We did not take any funds at all from from the local church. Whatever money anyone might give was usually used for their own ministry, whether it meant in helping to build a church or or even in certain areas (not in our area) certain areas the the pay for an evangelist and so on. But our own support came through the mission itself, and....
SHUSTER: And was that always adequate?
SCHOERNER: Well, this again we believe that we should not ask men for money; we believe we should trust in God for that; and God supplied, but but the Lord often tested us. For instance, during the time....there were times when when the exchange, even like as it is at the present time with the inflation, there were, when the exchange was most unfavorable to us, and the money that came from America suddenly seemed to be only half of what it used to be. There were times when we were se...severely tested when it seemed it wasn't enough. But there were other times when God in His grace actually seemed to double the amount that came from America so we would have sufficient on the field. I recall during the time of famine when whenwe had, especially because of inflation locally, as soon as we received some credit from Shanghai, we had to buy our grain, our...which was staple, the staple food, for a month ahead because the paper money that we had exchanged into was worthless. Especially during war years, the government would print, it was a thousand dollar bill, and then the next time it was probably a ten thousand dollar bill, and people knew this was just paper. But we learned, we had to learn, to immediately buy staple food and things that we needed, especially grain, and then take a Chinese bushel, and the miller would make it into flour for us. He would keep the bran for his animal. That was his.. that was hispay for for the flour that we got out of it. That was not always the case. But I remember in particular one one month of our our remittance, as we used to call it, came in each quarter (this was one of the gracious things that God does) our remittance always came at the beginning of the quarter, not at the end when you think you have done your work. But there was one time when we had to pay our servant in kind. Later on, money became so valueless (he got so much in grain per month) when what we received cost us, I mean, our servant cost us as much almost as we received. But that was seldom. We were always amply supplied. And we would never say that the Lord failed us.
SHUSTER: Did you receive your remittance fromCIM in American dollars, or did they give it to you in Chinese...?
SCHOERNER: No, our our mission did it this way. They credited our account in Shanghai. Then we knew how much we could draw on. And we...I was was treasurer for for an area in the business work for a while in another place. I would go out to the street, and we had Chinese merchants who wanted money in Shanghai, and I could sell an American check, and he would give me the cash for it, you see. I would, of course, have to take local currency, and then when I had a lot of local paper money, they ex...there was so called official exchange, which was usually...these merchants were so keen to give us money that they they disregarded...it was not an official thing, but we knew what it was worth. Another interesting point, in the northwest they still used the Chinese silver dollar. We used to call it the Mexican dollar; some of them were, came from the Philippines, actual silver.
And they would be willing, they would be willing to find these silver dollars for us, which was a much more stable, especially in the hospital administration where I was for a number of years, and so they didn't lose out, were able to.... But, the Chinese are very gifted in business abilities. Ah...you would be most interested to see, when you had 50 of these dollars (they usually wrapped them up in a roll of 50's) how the Chinese would lay one on the thumb and rang it. They would know right away is this good silver or is this a fake? But anyhow these were just...you had to do those things in order to live, you see. But it was most wonderful how in every area we always found someone who wanted money in Shanghai or Tientsin because these Chinese did business that way. They bought goods, brought 'em up by oxcart, part railway, or when, when I was in Turkestan four or five months by camel, all the way up into Turkestan, and they traded that way, and they were glad to get credit on the coast. And they trusted us; our checks were like like the actual gold to them.
SHUSTER: Shanghai, then, was the financial center?
SCHOERNER: Yeah, our our mission had a large financial center. Andthey would be able to take those checks and give that particular business man the credit that he needed, or give it to him in local currency, or whatever it was valued at, and they did their business that way. Many of these businesses in the northwest actually had their headquarters down on the coast.
SHUSTER: What was the remittance for a single man, approximately?
SHOERNER: Oh, that I cannot recall. But I I do recall this: when I went to China in 1931, including what the necessary travel was, and and living as a as a one man,the mission said a thousand dollars would roughly cover the cost. What the mission would put out for one worker.
SHUSTER: For one year.
SCHOERNER: For one year. But of course cost of living went up, and I really do not know how.... But I recall these friends who supported me, the Troutmans, would send a thousand dollars to the mission every year to help support me. And then, of course, when I became married, there were other friends who would also partially support my wife, and so on. But the way it worked, the mission took the funds, and we all shared alike in a given area. It was all very carefully done. In one area every so often they they would find out how much food costs here, how much meat cost, how much eggs cost, and so on, and then determine that the standard of living for the same kinds of food in this area is much higher than there, so this person would perhaps receive a larger or smaller remittance. And then for husband and wife so much,if you had one child so much extra, but I can't give you any figures now, but usually sufficient. But it was sort of rated in that way so that we all felt we shared alike. But there was another thing that some missions don't do but we did in the China Inland Mission: if your parents were to send you a personal check, that was completely on your own. We had some missionaries who had very fine church supporting them. They would always have little extras; they would have the gramaphone, the washing machine that we couldn't get (it was very difficult to get into that part of the world), but we'd just say that's the way the Lord takes care of them and the way the Lord takes care of us. But in otherwise, other ways we all shared alike.
SHUSTER: Go back tothe language school now, uh.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that there were...you had six exams you had to pass. how many of those....you didn't pass all six though while you were at language school.
SCHOERNER: No. We had to pass our first language exam and part of that was was to give our first message in Chinese,just a very short one, before a Chinese audience, see how well they could understand it; that was our.... And then there was some oral reading that we had to do before an examiner who was appointed by the mission, and usually there were in each area those who were especially gifted in that, and that was part of their work. Then as we went out to our different areas, all of our other language exams, usually, as I recall now, they were actually three papers. You, you did not know what you were going to be examined on, but you had books which you studied,often textbooks that the Chinese children used in the school, we had to learn every word, you see. In Chinese each character is a word. And we we studied Chinese textbooks, we had what we called a primer. Chinese doesn't really have a grammar. It's very difficult to say it has a grammar; you always had to add another Chinese character to make it present tense or past tense or or or whateveryou wanted to add. It it it was...it didn't lend itself to that...because each Chinese word is a character. It's beautiful once you know it, but at first, it's terribly puzzling. But we had a primer, as we call it, and we knew how many lessons were included in this exam, how many lessons in this exam, and later on we, we took part of the Chinese classics, which is another type of language, like the old German, you know, which is different from modern German.
SHUSTER: Common language.
SCHOERNER: Yeah, and and and it's it's a little bit like you read old English, Canterbury Tales, or you go back in in old English history, and spelling was different. Well, it's the same in Chinese. We learned a little bit of that, because many of the older Chinese, that's the way they were brought up. And then we learned also how to read a Chinese newspaper, we learned how to write a letter with Chinese characters. I wouldn't try it today, but we had to learn as part of our six examinations.
SHUSTER: Who gave these examinations when they weren't at the language school?
SCHOERNER: We had an examiner, a very gifted man...
SHUSTER: Who traveled throughout the country?
SCHOERNER: No, it was all done through correspondence. We, we took an exam, then see, in each...each mission station was somewhat organized; there was a missionary who was in charge, usually the one who had been out longer, with his family, and you as a young missionary would live with them. Then when you were married you established your own house, or home. However, each each area was a little different. The senior missionary would would have to send in I think the three exams, the three divisions of one exam. This examiner, then, down in Shanghai, I think he was, would carefully go over that, and oh, fill it up with red ink, and then send it back to you, and you got a certain grade in in in the language in that particular section, and there were six of these that we had to take.
SHUSTER: It was necessary to pass all six to go on to certain posts or...?
SCHOERNER: yes. You could not become, in my day at least, what we called a senior missionary in charge of a given area unless you passed all of your six exams. Now there were some who found it more difficult, who were much slower at it, and some of those were gifted and capable people, you know, not...as some who know how to relate to people, even though they're not perfect in the language. But the mission insisted that we try to be as perfect as possible (of course, in Chinese you'll never be perfect, even though you study it for a lifetime) because it gave you a measure of standing. You see, in Chinese we we were all called shen, shen-sun [sp?], which means a teacher. Shen-sun[sp?], actually the two Chinese characters mean firstborn. A teacher is...ha...has a status, and we were supposed to be shen-sun[sp?], and it also helped that those who listened to the gospel I think would respect what we said much more when they realized we had made a real effort to study their language.
SHUSTER: Was this Cantonese,or Mandarin?
SCHOERNER: No, this was Mandarin. We were in.... The China Inland Mission did not work in the Cantonese or Shanghai dialect the coastal dialect. We had our missionaries in the interior. Except, of course, for, for the missionaries who were in Shanghai. We also worked in one area south of Shanghai where they spoke some dialects, but mainly in Mandarin. Each missionary began with the Mandarin, which is basic, and the written languag is, of course, also basic. Even though you learn a dialect, they still use the Chinese language. But now since the days of Communism, 50 60 70, they have tried to simplify this. Everybody.... They try to do away with dialects, but it's almost impossible because, you know, the older people always speak naturally, more naturally in the dialect where they live. But in the schools now the children have to learn Guo-yu [sp?]; they don't call it Mandarin any more. Mandarin dates back to the old pre-Manchu the Man da rin, da rin is the big man, you see. Now it's called the national language, the guo-yu, and I'm not sure what the Communists have done in changing it, but I I have a littlegospel in which they, which I find difficult to read because they have simplified the written language, which is really very complicated. Andthey try to teach that to their own children as they grow up, and ultimately probably that will be the language that's more used. It is very interesting, for instance, just last Sunday I heard Billy Graham at Singapore, and I heard a translator translating it into Chinese, using the quo-yu[sp?] because many Chinese abroad are really Cantonese, but guo-yu[sp?], the the national language, is mo...is understood by most Chinese, even though not perfectly, but we could...my wife and I could listen and understand a good bit. Not all of it, cause when they speak rapidly, and if Billy Graham speaks rapidly. But it was wonderful just to hear the Chinese language again being used, used all over the world.
SHUSTER: And...you mentioned there were other subjects involved in the exam besides just the language, uh...
SHOERNER: Yes, we had to learn something of history, Chinese...a little bit of Chinese history, but the history of our own mission I can't recall details...we had to learn how to write Chinese characters. There was a book...
SCHOERNER: Yes, calligraphy. There was a book put out by the, by the YMCA in my...in our day, in the 30's, where they, where they taught thou...one thousand characters. We were supposed to learn these. This was sort of like basic, basic English. And and they felt, those who were making a study of it in the YMCA in those days, felt if you knew those thousand Chinese characters, you could at least make yourself understood. You couldn't use technical terms, medical terms, of course, but it's very hard to not only learn but to retain all of this. You have to have a photographic mind. Many Chinese just seem to have a.... They see a picture there right away, and that helps them. I have found the Chinese coming to study in America are often very intelligent and able to retain things in their mind because they have that photographic memory, you know, they retain what they have learned and received. But for us it was a struggle, six years of struggle, and then we felt afterwards you'll never come to the end. There's a Chinese dictionary that has 40,000 Chinese characters, idiographs in it, and whoever.... Even the Chinese themselves admit they don't know 40,000. But many of them are technical terms, names of things. But it's an education in itself just to....especially if you want to learn, and it was our desire. I I preached in Chinese (I wouldn't dare do it today), but you had to prepare almost every phrase, and you made your own outline. You, you had to try to make it not the way you think it in English, but something that'll mean to them something, you know, you can often find it in the Chinese text. One of the hardest things that I found was to learn to pray. Prayer is something spontaneous; and to do that in a foreign language, in any language let's say, even...but Chinese was a little harder. But to me what...one of the things that helped, and I've often said that to others, you know, you go to the Psalms and you see how David prayed, and I had the Psalms in Chinese before me, I could learn some of those expressions and descriptions of worship and praise and thanksgiving. That was most helpful. So we, of course, were the people of one book. And that was one of the things we really emphasized. I must admit it's always, always harder to read a Chinese storybook or even a Chinese book from the schools. You just had to learn. You stumble along the sentence, oh, here's a new character I've never seen; what does this mean? And you had to run for your dictionary, and so on. But it's a lifetime work, and and with a desire to reach the people, not only the ordinary person, but the educated person, you had to study. Then you found also to your chagrin that the man on the street often used a word that wasn't even in the dictionary. They admitted it. It's just like our colloquial, you see.
SCHOERNER: Yes, slang, actually. Actually, slang. And in Chinese they would have to take words in from other languages. Now like when they first found the first automobile. It was a...they had a Chinese word called che [sp?] that's a cart. Well, what was an automobile? 'Twas a motor car, some of the British said in those days, so they called it the mo to che[sp?]; and and in order to get that expression, mo to which we call a motor, they had to take two sounds, borrow sounds from their own language, which had nothing to do with a motor. And that was confusing.
SCHOERNER: But Chinese...it's like we ca...we speak of a garage. A garage isn't a true English word, but it's come from from the French probably. Andso language study is very fascinating, but we found it difficult, for instance, to express the names of the Bible books: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There's no Chinese name Matthew, Mark, or Luke or John, so we had to...not we, but the translaters call it ma tai fu yin (fu yin is the gospel), so we had to call ma tai. But you read that, or Chinese reads it and say, "What is that ma tai?" He...he tries to get the meaning out of that character, whereas we only borrow the sound of it: ma tai. So it...it had these complications. And I think the Chinese are trying to do away with that now in more modern days.
SHUSTER: That's phonetic?
SCHOERNER: You're right. If you have studied phonetics you getget the problem there because certain sounds are not even in Chinese--the r, you don't hear the r, you see.
SHUSTER: Where did you go after you graduated from language school?
SCHOERNER: I...my first appointment...
SCHOERNER: Yeah. My first appointment was to go with six young men to Chinese Turkestan. And this was an unforeknown thing to me. I had known very little about Turkestan; I had read about it, but the difficulty was how to get there. We had a.... This is again a long story (actually, a book has been written about it), in those days we had to find a way to get into the interior. Our our westernmost station in China was just a little beyond this hospital where I later came, and from Lanchow where Borden Memorial Hospital is, there's a 60 day journey to Tihwa in Chinese Turkestan. They they call 60 stages because a camel does a day's stage, sometimes 20 miles. It was roughly 1000 miles. But our mission did something which was unusual in those days. In '32 bought two Ford motor trucks. And we went by...by train to Peking, and these trucks had come from Tientsin, which is on the coast from Peking, and were taken by railway up to a city called Kalgan, which.... Kalgan the Chinese call it (that's the Mongol name) but the Chinese call it Chiang-ja-kuo, which means it's...it's the opening...kuo is a mouth...it's the opening into Mongolia. It's...it's.... We went through one of the gates of the old China wall into the inner Mongolian desert. And we took those two cars, and it was not quite 1800 miles, those two motor, those Ford motor trucks, the six of us, a senior missionary, and we had a Mongol guide with us, and we drove across the Gobi desert into Turkestan, a...a journey I think, according to our speedometer, was 1760 miles. It took us two months. We didn't...if we had known what we were going to get into, I don't think we would have ever undertaken it. But this is one of the ways the Lord guides. You know, we had to...we had to take all the gasoline with us. There was no way along the way. We had to take all of our food supplies. Six young fellows with all of our few worldly goods and an aged missionary who wanted to take us up there, on a road unknown. We had to go by a Mongol guide, with a Mongol guide. And we followed a an...an old road which went up to [unclear] in in Urga in Outer Mongolia, which then was already Russian controlled. And then we found out after we had gone only a short distance we were never going to have enough gas. We came to a place called Etsin Gol [also spelled Edsin Gol] where there were some rivers we had to cross, and there Sven Hedin you know, the great explorer Sven Hedin, he had tried to cross the Mongolian desert (he was interested in that part of the world), and he, he had taken some trucks across, and he had actually had buried in the sand, I dunno, several drums, oh, I think there wereI'm I'm I shouldn't guess, 30 or 50 gallons of gasoline that were buried in the sand that they didn't use. They were, they were going to go by car, but by camel they had prepared months ahead, took the gasoline by camel and then buried it in the cool sand, you see, and then they were going to pick it up by their trucks as they went along the way. But there was a a Swedish scientist there at Etsin Gol who said, "Well, here's this gasoline. Uh the Sven Hedin expedition's practically dissolved. There was a Chinese that was there with him, a Swedish scientist, and they said, "Well, I think that they will be glad to sell it to you." And he gave us...and it was sufficient to take us to the borders of Turkestan. There's another long story connected with that, how through the Chinese government we finally finished that trip of 117 hundred and 60 or 80 miles, not quite 1800 miles, but we were two months on the way. And that's how we six young fellows got our start.
SHUSTER: A great adventure.
SCHOERNER: It...it certainly was, yeah.
SHUSTER: Was there a....Did you have much trouble along the way from bandits or...?
SCHOERNER: No, we...that's amazing; it was practically deserted. We just passed some small places where people lived, Mongols, large lamasary, l...like a monastery, you know, lamasary, and uh....
SHUSTER: And the Mongols, were they...?
SCHOERNER: They were, they were living in their in their yurts, in their in their tents, you know, Chinese yurts, you've probably seen them if you studied anthropology, andwe we came to their encampments, but we just.... We had to have two guides. One guide took us up to a certain distance, then we hired another one who took us to the borders. And once we were in Turkestan there was the old cart road which came from Kansu province where where we were later on at that mission hospital. That was the old road that took 60 days, 60 days journey all the way to Tihwa, and we had we had roughly 18 more days to go through the Chinese government's help, (there were problems there with Muslims and uprisings), we finally got to Tihwa, and it was already December so the snow was coming down.
SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with the Mongols as you were passing through or...?
SCHOERNER: Yes, we had...we would buy, we would buy a sheep from them. You see, there were six or eight of us and we had this Mongol guide who knew how to dress it or get it ready for for food. That was the only meat that that we could get along the way except for the whatever we took with us, you see. When we left, we we didn't dream, of course, it was going to take us that long. You read about these things in stories, but many of these expeditions have hundreds of ways and lots of funds to to prepare a year ahead, and they would send a camel caravan ahead and have stocks of supplies, gasoline and everything, which we didn't have. People, of course, since then have said, "Why, wasn't it foolish of you to try to do such a thing?" Well, if we had known at the beginning all the problems, we probably wouldn't have tried to set out that way. By the way, this elderly missionary who came to get us, he went from this capital city of Tihwa 18 stages to the borders of Mongolia, the borders of Russia, Siberian Russia, and then went on the Russ...Russian railroad, the Siberian Railway, all the way across into Manchuria and came down to Shanghai that way, and he had hoped that we could go that way, but the Russian government wouldn't give us a permit to go by Siberian Railway and come into the western door of China, Chinese Turkestan. That's why we had to take this adventurous trip, which was all right when I was young; I wouldn't want to do it again.
SHUSTER: You mentioned you had to pass through Outer Mongolia too?
SCHOERNER: Well, there was one little corner we passed through Outer Mongolia, but....
SHUSTER: Did you have any trouble....?
SCHOERNER: No, we, we were glad afterwards. It was wy, way out in the desert country; there were no outposts. But if they had know it, they could have made it difficult for us. Because we know of others who had strayed across the borders, either in the car or by camel caravan. They just take you up to the capital city. It takes a long while to explain and to get released again, you know, as you've read stories of others.
SHUSTER: Once you reached Turkestan its...there was a Moslem uprising?
SCHOERNER: Yes, there was a Moslem uprising. We were, of course, still busy studying the language. That was our main duty then. But one of the six was a doctor, was a British doctor who also had a love for the Moslems, was more mature doctor, was a little older than the rest of us, hehe was asked by the by the local government to help them out, to help out [telephone rings] because of a lot of wounded people coming in; it was right surrounding the city, the Moslems against the local government.
SHUSTER: It was Chinese?
SCHOERNER: The Chinese govern...the Chinese government, but but the people who lived in the area were of the various tribes. See, on the road, if you studied Turkestan, these big old caravan roads.... By the way, even, this is where Marco Polo went in those old days, andI remember coming...(but maybe I shouldn't mention this) but I remember coming home on a furlough, and and a friend introduced me, asked me to speak at the Wheaton, at the Wheatonthe Wheaton, your morning chapel hour, and I spoke to the students there. He introduced me as one who tread the, the, the path of Marco Polo tr...trod. But it was only in certain areas, but he came across Turkestan when he came many hundred years ago oh, across China and went down into India and Persia and places like that. Butwe we were asked to help out, and this doctor was asked to to help medically to to treat these these wounded soldiers. And it was there that all of us young men did our part as nurses, as dressing wounds, learning from the doctor what to do, even performing minor surgery, trying to take bullets out that were close to the surface, with very little anesthetic. We had so little of it. We, we were so isolated, and and it was so difficult to get new supplies in there. But within...we had been up there only about...oh, a short few months, I can't recall the exact length of time, but one of our senior missionaries (there were two elderly missionaries up there), the one who came to fetch us, Mr. Hunter, but he had a companion, a Mr. Mather, who who knew the Mongol language, who loved the Mongols, who wanted to go out among them. He was working there among some Mongols who had also been wounded, we don't know just quite know how, in that same temporary hospital in an old schoolhouse, very septic, no...not, nothing antiseptic there, but you know, within a a few weeks this Mr. Mather...typhus. And then our doctor got it. And within two days both of them died. So it's more or more or less cutting short that experience that we had. And we had not been in that, in that country, in Turkestan, more than maybe six months at the most (I can't recall now; that was way back in 30...32, 33), and they gave their lives for for that work. But we young men that were, that were five of us left, one of them left Turkestan in a...in another year or so to be married. He went back.... There was a, there was a Chinese truck that went back the same way that we came up across the Gobi Desert, and he went, he went back to Tientsin to be married, but there were four of us left. Two, two of the young men went right into the work among the Turkey people, and Mr. Joyce and I went went east of this this capital city of Tihwa to work among Chinese. And we studied there, finished our language examinations. Mr. Joyce, by the way, was born in China, so he had a...he was ahead of me in language study, especially the spoken language. And then we did our work in a local ministry, beginning a a local work, seeing people saved, having meetings with with with a few believers. It was a little difficult with the two young bachelors. We had a great difficulty in reaching women. And many of the Chinese men. There were just independent men often coming up as tradesmen or as businessmen from the coast, and they would marry local women and often even having women, wives back home and family, you know, they...but they lived in the interior. And so we began a small work up there locally in the city of Kuytun, my fellow worker and I.
SHUSTER: And this was...there was only you two, there was no other...?
SCHOERNER: Just the two of us. There were...there was one Christian. There were later on several several that were saved, and we did open air work both among Chinese,among the Muslims, in the winter which were bitterly cold, up to 30 or 40 below zero, we we would study. Do our study and Bible study but especially language study, and we would work with the local Christians that we could get in the local area. But then in the summer months, we would travelinto the, into the mountains. We were right there on the northern, northern part of the Tien Shan mountains, the the heavenly mountains, the snow mountains up there, andbecause of our desire to contact people (and we were pushed into this) we did just a little medical work every morning for an hour. Much of it was reallydressing woulds, things that could be more easily done. We, we didn't know how to prescribe medicines, but we could help someone that might have some...we could only treat symptoms. We never claimed to be doctors, but they they wanted us to help. But we would do some pulling of teeth at times if necessary, if we could do it, couldn't always do it, and then we would alsodress wounds and and help in certain areas where we could, and we had learned from the doctor to do what we could do. And that gave us a contact, that gave us a contact with with these mountain people, the Keerki's [sp?], Kosacks [sp?] and...and Turki [sp?] people that lived in these mountains. And so in the summer we were able to travel for short periods of time where we were invited because once you got off the beaten track, you just...you had to have a guide to lead you up to the places where these people lived. But it gave us a wonderful experience of evangelism at its very crudest, you know. We could speak the Chinese language, and we would go out with our tent, and these people would come, and and they were curious and gave us opportunities to preach. But we never were able during those early years to get as far that we could use the Turkey language. Our other fellows workers, they majored in that, rather than Chinese, and they worked among the Turki[sp?] people, which are really the ancestors of the modern Turks, the the people from modern Turkey came from that part of the world in central Asia.
SHUSTER: So your basic task in Turkestan, was as an evangelism.
SHOERNER: Was really evangelism.
SHUSTER: And did did you found churches and...?
SHOERNER: Well, no, we did not actually do that, but there was such beginnings, which to us were thrilling, which again is a long story. Later on when we were in another part of China, there were some Chinese...(was a what was called a Back to Jerusalem Band) there were some keen Chinese who wanted to go back to Jerusalem. That...this was their idea that the gospel has gone westward from Jerusalem, from Judea. Now we as Orientals, we want to go back to Jerusalem and then the Lord will come when we reach there. They went all the way across difficult parts in Turkestan. Their, their hope was to go across Iran and all that. I never knew how far they got because the Communists ultimately came. But some of these young people and other Chinese Christians went up into Turkestan. And we have learned since then, and even yet today hear of some of these groups coming together, and some of these people that we knew were brought together in churches. There was one little church in the city where we actually first came, and we began a work in the city of Fuchow [sp?], and later on when we had to leave, these Chinese kept coming together, renting the same place, and having meetings. And there were one or two other places that were...where little churches were formed, with the help of Chinese who, through the years of turmoil when the Japanese war began, who immigrated way up into that part of the world. So there was a witness, not a terribly strong or large witness, but even among the Chinese uh...the Chinese actually were a minority of people up there so, so and some of them have had, had had contact in China. But we believe that the Lord did begin a work there, and from what we heard afterwards, it was most wonderful to see that those few young people and others that were saved, how they became a part of of the Lord's work in that part of the world. We just couldn't see much of it afterwards; we were there only for such a short time, six years really.
SHUSTER: And so all your first time was spent in this evangelism work...
SHUSTER: ...in Turkestan?
SCHOERNER: Yeah. But during those years I was corresponding with my wife-to-be. We became engaged and carried on our courtship mostly by correspondence. And Turkestan later on became very strongly controlled by Russia. They had their... the Russians had their influence up in there, they had their consuls and so on, and we were slowly beginning more and more restricted. They censored all our mail, and when they couldn't read it, they would just o....
SCHOERNER: Well, the post office, so to speak, but they had the men in there who who were supposed to sp...be able to speak English, but it was government controlled, see. And and when I was corresponding with my wife, actually the letter that I wanted the...the answer to, took six months to reach her. Oh, it was.... We numbered our letters during our courtship years so that we knew where--"oh, I just received your letter number so-and-so"--we knew roughly where we stood, and I was writing letter number 17 when she got letter number 4 or 5, you see. But that was all part of the game. And in order to make the long story short, when our time of service was up--seven years--and and they were not allowing us (because of this government restriction they were not allowing us to travel any more; were...we were not allowed to go beyond the city gate: police guards--and hampering our work because because of the of the strong influence in the government) and our time was up, then the mission said, "Well, you you can come and have your furlough now, and I was engaged to be married, and so was my fellow worker; there were three of us, actually.
SHUSTER: And what happened to the fourth fellow?
SCHOERNER: Well, the fourth fellowhe he, you know, he he's also married now too, but I don't know I don't know if he was engaged at that time or not, but all of us had been waiting, you see, for all these years. And then we were...then then permission was given, and and it was all arranged that we should come out and hand over whatever we had to be handed over to local peoples, and and there were complicated problems, it's a long story [unclear] some other missionary and his wife came up later on, and we felt that they could handle the things. Then we found out that they were not allowing us to travel back the way we came. Th...the Japanese war had begun, and they said, "No, we don't want you to go back that way. They would not allow us to travel via Siberia, which would have been a quick way, because I was going to Shanghai, and my...my...my wife was then living down on the east coast, and the only way they allowed us to travel was to go westward to the westernmost, southwesternmost corner of China to a city called Kashgar which was a thousand miles across (Chinese Turkestan is a huge province) a, a journey of a thousand miles; it took me six weeks, three miles an hour with a Chinese horsecart. Below crossing what what is called [unclear], right south of the Tienshan Mountain. And then from from the city of Kashgar to get down into India, which is the only way that they allowed us to travel, we were about six weeks on horseback. It took us three weeks to get...three months, I should say... into northern India. And and and then we had to have help through the British Consul, there was a British consulate out at Turkestan. Actually, the...in going via India (in those days there were no airplane service, there was none), andwe we had to go by boat to Shanghai. Took me six months. Six months, I said, six months. Our, our mission director, Mr. Hoste at that time, had a son working in the newspaper, and there was a newspaper article: Six months...Travelled Six Months to Win a Bride [laughs]. We were married then very shortly after I arrived.
SHUSTER: And that was at the end of your first term?
SHOERNER: That's was the first...the end of our first term--in 1938.
SCHOERNER: We had our furlough. 1939 we were in this country, and then went back in 1940, andthen I was in another part of China, south central China, and then already there was that feeling of trouble with Japan. See Jap...Japan and China were then at war, but trouble between Japan and the United States. And we had great difficulty in getting across some area. Again, I can't tell you many details, but but to go from occupied China where the Japanese were, to go into free China we had to cross great area that was flooded; the Chinese had flooded the Yellow River to keep the, to keep the Japanese from rou...running out too far into west China. But we were asked to help a number of workers there to get across, new new workers, because we knew the language, and then finally we went ourselves, and this was in in 1940, and my wife and I were in an area there where I learned to work with the Chinese church, which was an, a new experience, as I look back, working with Chinese elders, going with with them, preaching, teaching, preaching in the local church, but working with the elders in traveling, visiting outstations, was a new experience to me, which I had to learn, which I was grateful in learning. But then the world war broke out,you see. And and we had a family then. We had several children in those days. Then, when the the United States was sort of getting back on its feet after Pearl Harbor, they were beginning to pressure Japan on the coasts, and the J-Japanese, you know, which were occu...occupying Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Indonesia, you know, they occupied a large area, they found their shipping lanes were getting into difficulties. And so they wanted to open up that railroad that runs all the way from Peking in the north down all the way to Canton, which is sort of the door into Hong Kong. And we were on the wrong side, and so we were urged by by our own government (it was before Pearl Harbor) to get onto the other side. No, this was after Pearl Harbor.
MRS. SCHOERNER: No, after.
SCHOERNER: Yes, was after Pearl Harbor. But anyhow we were urged to get on the other side of that that railroad which the Japanese were going to open up again, and that meant moving up into northwest China. Again, a...an interesting long experience with two children and traveling overland by... we were on bicycle, we traveled...
SHUSTER: By bicycle?
SCHOERNER: My wife and I traveled days and days by...on bicycle over mountains, down mountains, because there was no railroad in in that part of China, until we came to the city of Tsingyuan. From there we could go by truck, and we were asked to go to this Borden Memorial...no, first to work in the in the local secretary office of Lanchow which was the headquarters of our of our mission, and then after a year to go to Borden Memorial Hospital, sort of like a dream of a lifetime, to be associated with that work in the business position. one of the missionaries was going on furlough. There...and then we were there when we came home in 1947. And it was then that I had a real desire to go to Wheaton. My wife had been there, and we made Wheaton our home, and it was during that year that I that I studied, I really enjoyed Dr. Gerstung[sp?]. I don't recall, there was a Dr. Herner [sp?] there, and I took anthropology because I was much interested in peoples, you know, the races and peoples of the world that we dealt with in Turkestan. And then we returned in '48 to go back to take up that post again at that hosp...business manager of the Borden Memorial Hospital. And and much of our ministry there, as I look back, again was to me personally profitable. I was in a business position, but we were training nurses, both men and women, and we had an opportunity in our, in our Bible study with them, a devotional time, to teach...had an opportunity to teach the Bible to some of these young student nurses, or to preach in the local church. Now being a little older missionary, I had both of these opportunities, and then also to use the the little bit of ability that I had in business, handling funds and and as you know, dealing with currencies and local currencies, silver, dealing withexchange. We were dealing with U.S. money now, even though we had to buy local currency. So I found later on in life that almost everything that I ever learned somehow or other came useful if it was given to the Lord. You know, all that you have ever done, the Lord could make use of it if you gave it to Him. Buying medicines on the market keeping keeping a hosital running under great difficulties, until....
SHUSTER: Was....When you returned in '48 was the hos...was the area already under Communism?
SCHOERNER: Not yet. No. And then during '49, early '49, then the Communists began to come out of Manchuria. See, the...Russia had gone into Manchuria, if you'll recall, just at the end of the world war, and instead of giving this back to the Chinese government, they handed it over to the Communists. It was as we call it the Sixth Route Army, led by Mao Tse Tung. So they controlled Manchuria, andfrom there they slowly came down into Peking and the coastal cities, so by by '49 they just came and took one city after another. The Chinese government just had no will to resist. There had been corruption, there had been problems. So that by the middle of '49 the the Communists declared themselves as lords of the land. They actually came up to fight where we were in Lanchow. We thought they would never go that far; and they said oh, the Moslems would fight against them, but they didn't, and the Communists actually came in one day, and....I remember one Saturday morning I was by then the superintendent...not the superintendent, I was the business manager, and they came down and and they (in their gray uniforms you didn't know if you met a general or if you met just an ordinary soldier) and they came into our hospital. We had been bombarded a day or so, and then all the soldiers fled, and they said, "Now you're liberated." That's they way they always approached it: liberated [word in Chinese], the Liberation Army. And at first it was, while it was under military regime, it was not too difficult. But slowly, once they appointed the mayors of the city and appointedpeople in the different important positions, they they appointed real Communists. And they began to train the people andwe use the word brainwashed, but it's really training them, training everyone with the new ideas.
SHUSTER: Andyou were in China when the Korean War broke out.
SCHOERNER: Yes, Korean War broke out then. I remember one day having... (Truman was the President then) I had a delegation of Communists come in, some local people and also the man in charge. And they try to make it difficult for you in this. They want to put you on the spot. They want to quote you, saying, "Well, what do you think now, of our new regime? And what do you..." They, they.... Macarthur was...you know, they had all these... The Macarthur Devil and the Troopman Tru...Truman some other animal, you see, they they looked down upon all these leaders because America was involved in in Korea and so were the the Chinese became involved. And what do I think? Well, we had to be wise. We say, "Well, we don't get involved in politics. We we we are free to criticize our country if they do wrong things," but we, we said to them, I said to them, "Well, you are withholding most of my mail. I can't even read the Chinese newspaper, and....I mean I can't even read an English newsaper. The Chinese newspaper is only giving me your viewpoint." I had to bewise and yet at the same time show them I didn't really know everything. And so anyhow we were under them for a while, and I had to admit, "Well, you keep the streets clean now, and you you try to govern things right," and you know as they they wanted some patting on the back, and...but the the way they tried to handle things was just to eliminate them. For instance, in a...not in our area. We had a leprosarium at our hospital...but in another area, they just went out and killed all the lepers. It was....they....Why keep people like that alive, you see. And then as we....
SHUSTER: What area was that?
SCHOERNER: In southwest China. In one area, I don't know the exact location. But this was what we learned. But as time went on they ga...they they pressured the, all the landlords...you see, there's a feudal sys...there was a feudal system in China. The men owned the land, and they had people working under them. We had a carpenter working for our hospital, and he said to us, "Oh, I can hardly wait till the Communists come and I'll get some land." You see, they're going to divide the land to everybody. But we found out even in those early days, and this was long ago now, this was early 50's, that some of those people who thought they were getting so much found out that the taxes that were exacted of them often was more than the, what the land produced. So it wasn't all so rosy as they thought it would be, but it was much more tough.
SHUSTER: Before the tape runs out, I wanted to ask you about the circustances under which you left China. Were you...
SHUSTER: ...requested to leave by the Communists?
SCHOERNER: No, we were not pushed. You see, at first they tried to push everybody, and then when they found out that many of our missionaries wanted to go, they said, "Well, why do you want to go?" And they made it very difficult for us. They...there was a a a Communist airline that was linking the city of Lanchow with the head of the railway at Tsingyuan, but when we finally asked for permission I think we waited three months till we got a pass. We couldn't leave, you see, without a pass, and we couldn't get transportation on anything, and we finally went by truck then, a two-and-a-half or three day journey to Tsingyuan to the head of the railway, and wherever we went we had to report to the local Communists in charge of the of the area (there were police), and then we went to the to that railway which which runs north and south. We went from Tsingyuan to the railroad junction and then went south directly to Canton on the Communist-controlled railway, and then from there went into Hong Kong--several days' journey. We had we had four children by then, and it was quite a difficult time in some ways. The Communists couldn't understand that our children didn't speak very much Chinese, but, of course, things were such that they were not always in areas where they could speak. We were in the hospital compound, and and of course they went to a mission school--the two older ones went to a mission school where they would not learn Chinese at that age.
SHUSTER: And the reason for your leaving was?
SCHOERNER: Was because we we wanted to had over, we finally found a man to whom we could hand over the administration of the hospital. And our mission felt that our time in China had finished. The Chinese Christians, many of them secretly talked to us that if any Communists who were watching us found out that they had come to us, they immediately said, "What did they say? What did you do?" They were so terribly suspicious of everyone. We became isolated, you see. We could not have the contact with the people. There was a time when we had a problem in the hospital when I was put before one of their...I don't know what they call it...kind of judge claiming that we had done certain things, you know, and they said, oh, our, our hospital was not liberated. One of our nurses had had dismissed a girl who whom they caught with a fellow. They were trying to bring in immoral ideas and acts into our hospital area, and she had dismissed this person, and they were trying to put us on the spot, that we couldn't do that. Then a few days later they they just left anyhow, a young fellow and a young girl. Then again they called us, and thinking that we had pushed 'em out when it really wasn't true. But they were trying to make it difficult for us. They were telling me that you know that "Do you could be put in prison for doing things like that?" and that I was not supposed to dismiss anybody from this hospital. [Coughs] But it it it just meant that our work was so hindered, and our own mission felt that we just couldn't do the work any more. Some of our missionaries were actually put in prison for various accusations, andwe found out, I found out afterwards that the newspaper had put in certain articles that I had been a spy. You know, uh.... We were not the last of our missionaries to get out. I would write a letter to s...to my friend up, up, further up in the stations, some business reason, and I may just say, "Oh, the weather looks good here, or bad." They would misinterpret that right away. I was giving him information. So they accused the missionaries of being just the spies of America. And so we ultimately left, and our mission decided that all of our missionaries should come out. It was not really a personal decision.
SHUSTER: And that was in '51?
SHOERNER: That was in 1951. And we were in Hong Kong then. Our mission was then just really praying. It looked like everything had come to an end. But the Lord was guiding the work for going to different... missionaries that went to other countries, learned new languages. My wife and I were asked if we were willing to go to Japan because it was in that day they needed Americans. Macarthur was still in Japan, and Americans had an acceptance, and we were asked to to sort of be the vanguard of future missionaries. But then this Chinese pastor, who had to underwrite our leaving China, he had to give a promise to the Communists that thatwe were bona fide, we had no debts, he would stand, you know, in our stead in case anything happened, he came to Shanghai on some business reasons (I think he came to Shanghai) and found out, hearing through our mission headquarters that we were bound for Japan. He says, "You can't send them to Japan." Japan and China were still nominally at war--no peace treaty. He says, "If you send them to Japan, I'll be told that...sort of...I'm the liar. I said they were going home to America." So the mission felt that it wasn't right that, to put him into into any difficulty, and it's for that reason that we actually came home in '51, thinking that maybe there's a possibility of going to Japan later on, but someone else had to take that position that I was to take, and we had four children at the time, and there were so many adjustments. The children had been out of school for a while, and I had to look for new work in this country, you know. We weren't a missionary any more--that somehow or other the Lord we felt had closed the door. That's how I became, after a number of months, to work at Moody, and have been at at home all these years. But still in the Lord's work and still having a vital interest in missions and doing all I can to help other young people to catch the same vision.
SHUSTER: Well, thank you.
END OF TAPE