Billy Graham Center

Collection 182 - James Herbert Kane. T1 Transcript.

This is a complete and accurate transcript of the oral history interview of Dr. James Herbert Kane (Collection 182, #T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded were omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. This is a transcript of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. In very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished. In these cases "[unclear]" or "[?]" was inserted. Chinese place-names are spelled in the old transliteration form because that is how the interviewee pronounces them. Both interviewee and interviewer would interject "Um-hmm" or Un-huh" frequently, but these were not transcribed unless they came at a definite break in the conversation. In some sections of the tape, the microphone was apparently frequently bumped and every occasion of this has not been noted.

... 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.

( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.

[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.

This transcription was made by Janyce H. Nasgowitz and Tara Pokela and was completed in October, 1991.

Collection 182, #T1. Interview of James Herbert Kane by Galen R. Wilson, 1982.

WILSON: This is Tuesday, April the twentieth, 1982. We are here with Dr. J. Herbert Kane to discuss his work as a missionary in China, under the China Inland Mission, from 1935 to 1950. Dr. Kane, the first thing I wanted to ask you about was the Bible conference ministry work. that worked, what the logistics of it were, the...the amount of traveling that was done, where the churches were that you ministered to, etc.

H. KANE: Well, we were located in the city of Fowyang [new spelling, Fowyang] in the northern part of [noise] Anhwei (new spelling, Anhwei), part of the great central plain of China. And we had a lar...a large church in the city, seating about eight hundred people. And then in the country round about, north, east, south, and west, we had approximately one hundred fifty out-stations (as we called them in those days). They were churches in various stages of spiritual development. Some were brand new a...and were little better than preaching points. Others had been in existence for twenty or thirty years and had their own full-time pastors. So we had everything from the primitive to the more mature type of country church. And my principal work was [pauses] going and visiting these churches, hopefully once a year, principally in the [pauses] the fall and the spring of each year when the people were...had more leisure time. And I traveled back and forth always on my bicycle. The land in north Anhwei, it is flat as a table top and very densely populated, little clusters of busy villages all over the place at two and three miles apart wherever you went. And in each of these churches, we would have three days of meetings. We'd have four meetings a day, so we'd have twelve meetings in a three-day period. We'd begin with early morning prayer and Bible study meeting before breakfast that would last approximately an hour. Then we'd knock off for breakfast. And we'd have the morning service, which was a preaching-teaching type of meeting. Then we'd have lunch. And then we'd have another service in the afternoon of equal length. Then in the evening after supper we would have, oh, a two- or three-hour service. And my...that was my principal work, to be one of the main speakers at these annual Bible conferences.

WILSON: Now, these would not be meeting specifically on Sunday. would be all along through the week, correct?

H. KANE: [Pauses] Y...yes. Ordinarily, they met only on Sunday, but this was an annual feature and they...their meetings lasted in each place at least three days. Sometimes they would coincide with something else and sometimes it would meet Tuesday through Thursday.

WILSON: Well, I'm trying to divide fifty-two Sundays a year into a hundred and fifty churches. That's....

H. KANE: Yeah, well, we never attempted to visit all the churches. That would have been a physical impossibility. We would go to a large out-station in what we would call a market town.

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: And then that church would have ten or fifteen satellite churches.

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: Well, we never attempted to visit those little satellite churches. We went to this sort of main church in the market town. And then the Christians from the smaller satellite churches would gather in that church. So it wasn't necessary for me to visit all one hundred and fifty different churches.

WILSON: I see.

H. KANE: But that annual Bible conference was the highlight of the year as far as the Christians were concerned. Boy, they loved it. They prepared for it. They would come, those from these outlying satellite churches. They would come with their wives and their little ones on these big lumbering wooden wheelbarrows, you know. And they would bring their bedding [pauses] and their food and their fuel with them and stay for three days. And they had a...they had a marvelous time. They just lapped it up. And they really went from morning 'til night. Even went...during their meals they were having fellowship. And after the last meeting in the evening was over, oh, they'd just go on singing and having fellowship in clusters here and there. Usually the country churches were not...the buildings were not specially built as churches. They were just ordinary L-shaped buildings. And they'd knock out a partition or two and they could accommodate, say, a hundred men in one wing and a hundred women in the other wing (they never mixed them, of course). And then when it came time to go to bed at night, why they'd just put a curtain across where the L...the two sections met and then throw straw on the floor. And the men would pull out their p'u kais [letter of 12/28/35] as we called them, their bedroll. They'd roll up and they'd go to so...sleep and sleep know, the sleep of the just all night. The women would do the same, after they got through singing. But they would keep on singing and singing until one or two in the morning and here I was trying to get some sleep. [Wilson laughs.] They didn't care whether they got any sleep or not because this was their annual three-day occasion and, when the three days were over, they could go back home and catch up on their sleep. But I [both laugh]...I had to go to the next place and carry on for another three days, and then another three days, and another three days. It was good for the spirit, but it was hard on the flesh [both laugh].

WILSON: The...this separation of the men and the women, was that customary also in the Fowyang church?

H. KANE: Yes, in the big Fowyang church, seating eight-hundred people, the women always occupied the...the main floor. The men occupied the gallery. And the gallery was in the shape of a "U" that went right around the church. And the men were always upstairs and the women were always downstairs. And the pastor was up in a rather high pulpit (we called it a crows nest, it was so high). And he was almost on the level with the men in the gallery so he'd have to look down some distance pay any attention to the women. But he ju...he...he just ignored the women and preached up to the men up in the gallery. And the women down below could pick up the crumbs that fell from it [Mark 7:28] [both laugh]...from the gallery up above.

WILSON: Well, that explains it. I...I was wondering, you know. Ordinarily you would this country you put the men on the main floor and cram the women up in the gallery where it doesn't matter, but I [laughs]....

H. KANE: Well, the wo...women there, as here, outnumbered the men considerably,...

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: ...and so they occupied the main floor that would seat about five hundred and then the gallery would seat about three hundred. And nine months of the year we had that church packed, with people standing. Now, you know, June, July, and August, when they were busy with the harvest and that, then it would drop down. Occasionally, on a very bad, wet Sunday, say, the winter, then we...we wouldn't use the gallery at all. Men and women would sit, but the women would sit in one section and the men in another section.

WILSON: Un-huh. Now, is that Chinese custom for any kind of social gathering?

H. KANE: Yeah. The men and the women [pauses]...there're almost a complete segregation of the sexes. Chinese have a saying, shou shou puchin [?], the shou of "to give" and another shou, "of receive"; shou, shou, "in giving and receiving," puchin, "our hands never touch." So if I...if I offer you a hy...hymn book, I offer it to you in two hands. You accept it in two hands, but we see to it that my hands never touch your hands. That's if I am giving it to a woman. Oh, there was a complete segregation of the sexes. Of course, we were up in Fowyang. That's inland China. Now, that didn't obtain in Shanghai, of course, or in Nanking. That's a western...a westernized part of China. And as a matter of fact, my wife and I didn't go to church together. I would go to church first and she would follow maybe two hundred yards behind me.

WILSON: Really?

H. KANE: Oh, yeah.

WILSON: So you wouldn't offend the....

H. KANE: For us to go together to church, to walk down that just wouldn't be understood and it wouldn't do our image any good.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: So, you just do your level best to be as unoffensive as you possibly can. And if you ride roughshod over their [bumps microphone] social customs, you just alienate the people. Now when the children arrived (we had two boys in China, born there)...when they arrived we felt that the time had come when, with the presence of two children, one holding on to my wife's hand, one holding on to my hand, we could get away with it. And we then...then we did go to church as a family. But before the boys came, my wife and I never went to church together, we never came home together, we never sat together in the church, we never talked to each other in a church.

WILSON: Hmm. Now, if you had, would that have reflected [pauses] Chinese eyes...would it have reflected more against you or against Mrs. Kane?

H. KANE: Oh, no, it would have just been [pauses].... No, it wouldn't have been any more on her than on me. It would of just been [pauses]....

WILSON: Improper?

H. KANE: Improper is a good term. You know, the world wouldn't have come to an end.

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: They would have said, "These are foreigners. And they don't know any better, so we'll bear with them," you know. [Wilson laughs]. Paul says, "You'll bear fools"...what is it? "You'll bear fools gladly," [2 Cor. 11:19] or something. [Wilson laughs.] But we did our level best to be as unoffensive as possible. And our women in the China Inland Mission all wore Chinese dress seven days a week, never appeared in foreign dress, even the most modest form of foreign dress. I wore Chinese clothes in the winter because they were warmer, and I wore western dress in the summer, and then that was acceptable. Had I worn a long Chinese gown in the summer, I think I probably would have done more harm than good. We were in a part of China that was beginning to change.

WILSON: Um-hmm. Now, why would you have done more...more harm than good if you had worn a Chinese gown in the summer?

H. KANE: Well, in the winter I wore the Chinese gown. They called it...or it wasn't a Chinese gown. I wore what they called a Sun Yat-sen [probably named after the founder, in 1911, of the Republic of China (1866-1925)] uniform. The soldiers all wore that type of uniform. All the employees in the government wore that same type of uniform. They called it the Sun Yat-sen uniform. It was, you know, high collar, buttons down the front type of thing. And that was very warm because it was wadded with cotton wadding and in our house we didn't have any central heating. We didn't have any heating at all in the last couple years. So it was as cold inside as out. And it would have been an act of folly on my part to wear this kind of...

WILSON: Surely.

H. KANE: ...suit in that kind of weather. But they didn't expect men to...they didn't expect the same of men as they did of women. The world over women's dress is always more conservative than men's dress. The women are not so easy to give up their national costumes as the men are. In Japan, for instance, or Tokyo, you probably won't find a man with a kimono. He'll have a kimono when he goes home at night, but [pauses] on the streets of Tokyo, there they'd wear foreign dress. But the women are much more reluctant to do that. Most of the women in the bigger cities in Japan would still be wearing the...the Japanese kimono.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: It's just a little concession that they appreciate.

WILSON: Therefore, well worth the effort.

H. KANE: I think so. Ruth Nowack was one of our fine fellow workers. She was born in China, spoke the Chinese language just like the Chinese. When she arrived back in Fowyang from her furlough, she arrived in western dress. A long black skirt and a white blouse, you know, lon...long sleeves and neck done right up to the top. And as soon as she arrived, the Christians got the ear. They flocked from all over the place, came to welcome her back. And when it was all over and they were ready to leave the...the living room, Elder Yuen, the most influential man in the church, he just stopped and he said to Miss Nowack, "You'll be wearing Chinese clothes tomorrow, won't you?" That's all he said.

WILSON: [Laughs] Was it a question or a statement [chuckles]?

H. KANE: It was...he was a...a question. He was making a discreet inquiry. He didn't want to tell her and so.... Oh, Miss Nowack, "Yes, yes, I intend to, I intend to." So just that little bit makes all the difference, you see.

WILSON: Surely. it a difficult sacrifice to make? give up certain customs that we don't realize we hold dear until we are asked to do without them?

H. KANE: I...we didn't find it so. No. No. Although there were missionaries who said, "Look, we're foreigners. They know we're foreigners. They know we have foreign customs just as well as they have Chinese customs," and, you know, "let them get used to our foreign customs." But we never...we never operated on that basis. Matter of fact, when my wife and the two children evacuated Fowyang and went out to west China towards the end of the Sino-Japanese War, I escorted them up river to a place called Taiho, where they got on a boat and from there they went farther up the river. And then they got on a truck and hopefully they'd get out through the Japanese lines just before the Japanese closed the...the line towards the west and cut us all....cut us off completely. Well, [pauses] I was on the deck of this little boat about to say good-bye to my wife, not knowing whether I'd ever see her again. And I said good-bye to Stanley and...and Douglas and patted them on the head and planted a kiss on their cheek, but I did not kiss my wife. I simply said to her, C-Y-K, "consider yourself kissed." [Both laugh.] That's all I did. I did not kiss her in public. To have kissed my wife on that little I...the world wouldn't have come to an end, but it simply would not have been understood. [Pauses.] Chinese don't show any [bumps microphone] romantic love in public. I don't know what they show in private, but it is absolutely a no-no in public. And as for kissing, [pauses] my name would have been mud, so we settled for C-Y-K [laughs].

WILSON: Now, [pauses] let's go back to these rural churches for a little bit. What did they...what did they operate with in between Bible conferences in the terms of pastorage, pastorate, whatever. They obviously didn't have a foreign missionary pastor, did they?

H. KANE: No. There were only two churches in the country, and both of them south of the city, that had full-time ordained pastors. One, Lin-shui-chi, had pastor Li and San-ho-chien had pastor Hsing. They were Bible school graduates and they were very fine men. They were full-time in the work. They were the only two ordained, full-time pastors we had for a hundred and fifty outstations. The other outstations, even some of the older ones, ten and fifteen years old, were manned by laymen, all on a part-time basis. And usually the layman was a man of some standing in their village or community. Many of them were doctors. At least they were called doctors (they weren't full-fledged doctors). But they had a smattering of first aid. They knew about aspirin and in those days the sulfa drugs were just coming on the market. They would buy them up and...and they had a fairly lucrative [pauses] vocation as a doctor. And they us...some of them used Chinese herbal medicine and supplemented by foreign medicine and they had a good income. Profit from the sale of those foreign drugs was...was very high. And so many of the outstation leaders were these laymen, so-called doctors, who gave freely of their time and very generously of their income. Many of them were tithers. And in many instances the...the church building was donated by them. Sometimes they would buy a piece of property and then build, but that was rare. They generally settled for an existing building that had no...didn't look like a church at all. And they never..never bothered to change the...the architecture on the outside. They would knock out a few partitions on the inside and end up with an L-shaped building. And the pulpit would be where the two L's met and they'd have a...a wooden platform...mud platform, about twelve inches high. And they'd have a...just a...a very simple wooden stand on which you'd place your Bible. No electricity, of course, so for the evening meeting we just had little oil lamps. Get a saucer and put some oil in the saucer. And take some cotton wadding and roll it up into a roll and put it in the oil and let it hang over the side of the saucer. And light a match to it and that's the way we held our evening meeting. Occasionally, when you got excited and pounded the pulpit, why, [both laugh] the saucer and the oil and...went on the floor and of course the light went out. Very interesting.

WILSON: [Laughs]. Wh...when...when you're operating a hundred and fifty churches with two ordained pastors and [pauses]...and annual visits from missionaries, how do you ensure orthodoxy?

H. KANE: Well, the Holy Spirit does a pretty good job along that line, you know [laughs].

WILSON: That's a good answer [laughs].

H. KANE: We had no problem along those lines. Most of our Christians the country were new. They were young. They were immature, but they loved the Lord and they loved the church. More than half of the women would...would have been illiterate and that's what...we had...that's.... Two of our...two of our missionaries, one a Chinese woman by the name of Han Pei-ching, she teamed up with Ruth Nowack. And they went from one village church country church to another and they held reading classes. [They] taught women to read. Not the Chinese script, but the phonetic script that was invented by the missionaries. And they would have...they would hold a three-week reading class. At the end of that three-week reading period, the brighter women would be able to read the phonetic and then from there on they would be able to [pauses] learn on their own to read the complicated Chinese script along side on the same page with the...the...the phonetic script.

WILSON: And then in turn be able to teach the others?

H. KANE: Yeah. But the...the only...[pauses]...the only [pauses] Bible teaching that went on was...was really what we did once a year. The Sunday morning service, in most places, the sermon would leave something to be desired. Most of those outstation leaders had not had any formal theological training.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: And some of them would be only semi-illiterate, having learned to read after they became Christians. So they would depend to some extent on their imagination. Chinese are great...past masters at telling stories. They love to tell stories. And they'll take a...a parable, like the parable of the prodigal son, and they will dress it up, and they will add to it and elaborate upon it. And they can preach for fifty minutes just a descriptive sermon, filling in the details that our Lord never bothered to bother with. [Wilson laughs.] And [pauses] people would laugh at that kind of thing.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: And when I went out these churches, engaging in this Bible teaching work, far as I remember, I [pauses] never went alone. Maybe once or twice in all those years I went alone. I insisted that either of the pastors in the city or the country go with me. Pastors couldn't come, then Elder Yuen would come with me. If he couldn't come, then evangelist Li. I refused to go out alone because [clears throat] I wanted this ministry to continue after we, for any reason, might have to leave. And they caught on, caught on very, very well. And after we left, for at least a year or two, those annual conferences continued. Pastor Hsing was of the leaders. Of course, after the communists came to power everything was destroyed. But it was a very, very [[pauses] exciting ministry. In mo...many places, the annual baptismal service would take place at the end of the three we...three day Bible conference. Sometimes we'd have eight, sixteen, twenty, twenty-four people baptized in these churches. And then we'd always have the Lord's Supper after the baptism. It was the highlight of the year for the country Christians and they loved it.

WILSON: Another thing I wanted to ask you about was the...the Little Flock, Watchman Nee's organization, that your letters occasionally you'd referred to having met up with some, and all. What were the relations like with that [pauses] church, if you will?

H. KANE: We in Fowyang didn't have any contact with the [pauses]...the "Little Flock," as it was called, Hsiao Chun. Their headquarters was in Shanghai and most of their churches were in the coastal provinces of Chekiang and Fukien. We had no Little Flock churches in North Anhwei at all. So I only knew of Watchman Nee through his writings. Down in Chekiang, in that province where they were strong and we were strong [pauses], we had problems with them. Quite frequently they would [pauses]...they would make an appeal to our Christians, and some of our finest Christians left us and went over to the Hsiao Chun. And some of the churches were split right down the middle and we lost half of the church to the Hsiao Chun. We didn't have that in north Anhwei either. They simply weren't there, so we didn't have the problem. Hsiao Chun was very much like the...the Plymouth Brethren. Very much. In fact, Watchman Nee on one occasion went to London, England, to meet with the leaders of the Plymouth Brethren in that country and they came very, very close to an understanding. But Watchman Nee insisted on breaking bread with people who were not Hsiao Chun. And that, I think, was one of the reasons why they never really did get recognition from the Brethren movement in England. So they remained a...a movement of their own in China. And then, of course, they spread Taiwan, where they are today one of the bigger churches.

WILSON: Now, you yourself came out of the Plymouth Brethren church, didn't you?

H. KANE: I was born and brought up with the Plymouth Brethren Assembly in the city of Montreal, which at that time was one of the bigger, if not the largest, Assemblies of that particular group of Brethren North America.

WILSON: Now, another faction, if you will, that I think you had more contact with was the...the Jesus Family. Can you describe that to me?

H. KANE: Yes, they came...

WILSON: What it was, what its theology was?

H. KANE: ...they came into our part of north Anhwei from the adjoining province of Honan, where they were very strong. They did...never came to our city and they never had contact with me or the city church figures. And they confined their...their efforts largely to the outstations west of the city. And they...they did...they made no bones about it. [Bumps microphone.] They...they really went after our Christians. And they were charismatic and [bumps microphone]....

[Frequent sound of microphone being bumped starts here.]

WILSON: In the sense that we understand charismatic?

H. KANE: Yeah, they spoke..they had speaking with tongues and that kind of thing, whi...which meant that [pauses]...that appealed to some of our Christians. And we lost a few to them. But the confrontation was nothing like it was between the...the CIM and the Hsiao Chun in the Chekiang Province.

WILSON: Um-hmm. [Pauses.] One thing I...I wanted to get you to discuss (it's a question that's being asked more and more by researchers in the Archives) is the missionary children question. When your family is on the mission field, of course, it''s quite different from raising a family back in North America, just because of the forced separations, and all. What [pauses]...I...I know that you don't have any...anything to compare it to [train noise] because didn't have your children at that point in their lives at your home constantly, instead of at the missions school. So, you know, it's difficult to say, "It would have been different if...." But...but in general, what kind of effect did it have on your family life [pauses] to be separated from your children for such blocks of time?

H. KANE: I think on the whole it worked out very well. The initial break was pretty traumatic. Shouldn't kid ourselves about that, and I think it was more traumatic for us than it was for the children A lot depends on to what extent the child...the parents have made a concerted effort to prepare the children for the break. Some parents were wise and prepared them well, so that the break was not traumatic. And other parents were very, very foolish. And, rather than discipline their children, they would say, "Now look here, Johnny, you better behave yourself because this time next year you won't even have me. You'll be away at school." That's no kind of threat to hold over the children. From the very beginning, we told our two boys that they would be going to school when they were six or seven years of age. And we portrayed this as a great, exciting adventure, that they would have far more at school than we could possibly provide for them in our compound in the city of Fowyang. While they're very young, they can play with sticks and stones and make mud pies, but when they get up to the age of nine and ten, twelve, they're not content with that kind of play. Well, that's the only kind of play we could provide them with [train noise fades out]. They go off to school, they would be with three or four hundred young people of their own background, age, culture. And they would have all kinds of sporting events. They'd have international...they'd have European sports, they'd have British sports, they'd have American sports. And we painted it as a great adventure to which they could look forward. So our two kids went off to school without shedding a tear or batting an eye. We were the ones who shed the tears. [Pauses.] We had this advantage, that on one occasion when my wife and I were separated, she was at the school,...

WILSON: Right.

H. KANE: see, on the staff.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: So that she had it from...saw the thing from both angles and she would give you much more detail than I would about this. But she was on the sending end when we sent our kids away to school. But then for about twelve or fourteen months she was on the staff on the receiving end and was a matron on the staff to receive these kids, as they were brought to school.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: So she...she saw the reaction of the kids after their parents left. And, in her time in the school, there was only one child that had a real hard time and he did. He...he cried his eyes out for three days. But he survived and got over it. But the others usually made their way with a minimum amount of emotional disturbance. And we did have another advantage. When we came home...after we came home, we had our third son. So we had two sons brought up in China who went away to school and we had one son born here New England who, of course, lived with us and went to the local public school. And I must confess that it was...we found it easy to bring the two boys up in China, than to bring the one boy up here in the United States. And our two boys in China got a better education than our son did here in the United States.

WILSON: Hmm. Now is that primarily because of the quality of the CIM school as opposed to the public schools?

H. KANE: Yes, primarily. Our school was an excellent school. It was a big school because we were a big mission and we had three schools, actually. We had a...what we called a prep school, and then we had a boys' high school, and then a girls' high school. And the teachers were all fully qualified teachers and the principal [clears throat] (they called him the headmaster; it was the English system), he had his MA's from Oxford and the vice headmaster, he had his MA from Cambridge.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: And I'm telling you, the academic content was something to behold. Our kids [clears throat] began learning history in the third grade. And they didn't begin with American history. They began with ancient Roman history. And they...they began Latin in the fifth grade. And they were singing Stainer's Crucifixion in the choir when they were still...well, before they even reached their teens.

WILSON: When they were boy sopranos, eh [chuckles]?

H. KANE: They got excellent h...[pauses] education. When Stanley came home, he skipped one whole grade. And when he...when he graduated from high school here in the States, he had just turned sixteen. So we...we didn't feel that either we or they were short-changed by having to send them away to school. And they were very happy in school. They wrote to us every week. We wrote to them every week. They came home at Christmas for about a month and then we had a month's vacation in the summer. And we always took our vacations at the school. So we saw them for two months each year.

WILSON: that [pauses].... Well, I'm anticipating the answer already, but that enough to keep a close family going? I obviously have kept close to your children over the years, but....

H. KANE: Well, I would say that [pauses] the average American family today is not characterized by closeness.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: We were closer to our children, even though geographically we were separated by hundreds of miles [clears throat], than the...the average parent, say, is here in the United States of America. The kids, they live at home, they sleep at home...I mean they sleep at home, and they eat at home, but, you know, they're out playing here, there, and everywhere and their parents hardly know where they are. Come in all hours of the night. We didn't have that much time with them but the time we had with them was really quality time. And when they came home at Christmas for a month we...we saw to it that we put our missionary work to one side as much as we could and gave time to them. And then when we were with them in the [pauses] the summer, we would spend all of our time with them. We found that when they came home at Christmas, they were absolutely delighted. They bounced into the compound and hugged us. Well, but after two weeks, you know, only have a certain number of games you can play [Wilson chuckles], and you've played all of them about forty-five times, they began to count the days when they would go back to school.


H. KANE: And they went back to school very contented, very contented. They really liked it. And if we'd tried to keep them at home cooped up in our compound, have tried to teach them [pauses], we wouldn't have done a good job...a good job academically. And even from the point of...of the family relations, we wouldn't have done nearly as good a job. Once they went to school and got settled in and made friends and had all the extracurricular activities, they were far better off than they would have been if they'd stayed home.

WILSON: It's just getting over that first hump, hey?

H. KANE: To the average parent here in the United States that sounds very, very cruel, and inhumane, and impossible. But it''s not nearly as difficult as you would imagine. Though I must confess that, if there was any so-called sacrifice that we engaged in, in all our days in China, it was that, sending our two boys away to school.

WILSON: Maybe this isn't a fair question because there's so many variables involved, but do you think that [pauses]...that Stanley an...and Douglas became more independent faster than your youngest son?

[Sound of microphone being bumped fades out here.]

H. KANE: Yes. That is one characteristic that's almost universally true of mk's [missionary kids]. They learn at a very early age to take care of themselves. To tie their own shoes, to keep their room clean, make their own beds. Unheard of in the United States of America. See, when the kids go off to school at that tender age and they're with three hundred other kids, and everybody is doing the same thing at the same time, it never enters their mind that they should kick over the traces and do something different. They went to bed by the bell. They got up by the bell. They went to meals by the bell. They went to classes by the bell. And everybody was doing it. It never entered their minds that this was an undesirable facet of human life. And they...they had their beds, they had their desks and their drawers, their...they had a place for their shoes. They had a place for this, a place for that. And before they went to breakfast [clears throat], their dorms have to be put in order and there were matrons who looked after that kind of thing. They didn't have running water, so they...they had face basins, and they had their towels, and they had time to take their bath every week. The whole thing was regimented. Now, that sounds very irksome to us....

WILSON: [chuckles] Just the word sounds irksome to us [chuckles].

H. KANE: But those kids, they liked it and they made good friends. And then that...that sort of carries over into their later life. And then they traveled around the world, especially on furlough, and they learned to adjust. Spend one night in this home, another night in that home. And I...I really believe that, pers...pers...personally, the mk's have it all over their counterparts here at home [unclear].

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: Intellectually they are ver...they rate very high, as a group. The [pauses]....the number of mk's who graduated from high school and go on to college is about ninety percent. Now that's very, very high.

WILSON: Well, that can also be due to their parents, too. I mean, th...they come from educated homes,...

H. KANE: Right. [Pauses.]


H. KANE: They...they do, and they...they do very, very well. And most of them go into the professions when they come home. They...very few of them go into business. [Pauses.] They're not interested in going into business, just making money for money's sake, living in a big house, and having two cars in the garage.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: Very few mk's have that kind lifestyle. Most of them...a lot of them go in for the pastorate. Many have become missionaries. Some of them are third and fourth generation of missionaries. And not a few of them go into the...into foreign service, state department, overseas again. Some of them go into the...into professions. A lot of them go into teaching. But I would say, though, that the percentage that go into business is very small.

WILSON: Now, [pauses] Stanley and Douglas became....

H. KANE: Stanley majored in philosophy and, if you major in philosophy, what can you do with it except teach it to somebody else who's crazy enough to learn it [both laugh]. So he's teaching philosophy at Miami University and he loves it. Doug is a politician. He's in the legislature here in Illinois in Springfield. And Norman (he's the fellow that was born here at home), he's going in for medicine. And he is now in his first year of residency and he wants to be a medical missionary. So we've had three sons, neither...neither of them...or none of them has shown any interest in just going into business and making money.

WILSON: Um-hmm. [Pauses.] Would you describe for me Mr. [Frank] Houghton, your...your personal reflections on him, the...the kind of man he was; the...the leadership that he gave to the mission?

H. KANE: Well, he was an Englishman. He was an Anglican. And he was a bishop. [Pauses.] He worked in his early years in the province of Sichuan, China. And he was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury so that he could function as the bishop of the whole province of Sichuan. Then later on he was appointed as our general director. And there was some misgiving at that time, especially among Americans. How would this put out with the American supporting constituency at home? Unheard of to have a faith mission headed up by an Anglican bishop. It worked out very, very well. He was a very good, godly man. His health was frail, he himself was quite thin. He suffered most of his life from insomnia, and when he had a real bout of insomnia was really bad. He would probably go almost without sleep for two or three months. Now that was....

WILSON: Literally?

H. KANE: Oh yeah, yeah.

WILSON: How could he survive?

H. KANE: And towards the end there...towards the end, after the Communists came to power, he had a...he had a long bout with insomnia. In fact, he had to leave Shanghai and...and go to Australia to get a complete change of...of scenery to see if that would help his...his insomnia. It was something chronic with him. He had it all his life. [Pauses.] A very approachable man, a very humble man, [train noise] very affable, a man of, you know, faith and prayer. He was the author of a couple of books. China Calling was one of them. He wrote The Life of Amy Carmicheal. And he was a good leader, a good solid leader.

WILSON: [End of train noise.] And Mr. [John Robinson] Sinton?

H. KANE: John Sinton was a Scotsman. [Pauses.] Different type altogether from Bishop Houghton. He administrator, I would say he was much more aggressive than Bishop Houghton was. He, too, hailed originally from the Province of Sichuan. And he...I think he was our general dir...he was our deputy gen...general director. And then when Dr. Bishop Houghton left for Australia, he virtually became our general director. And he was the one who really [pauses] supervised the enormous transition from China to the other ten mission fields into which we ultimately went. So he...he...he was the general director in a very strategic [pauses] time in the history of the mission.

WILSON: Um-hmm. Now, your letters, you [pauses] wrote about the fact that the...the folks in Shanghai just hadn't caught on as early as you in the provinces...the inland provinces had to where the political situation was going. To what do you attribute that?

H. KANE: Well, they were farther removed from the...the scene of the war. We were right in the thick of it. Our city fell to the Communists for the first time in June of 1947, which was six months after we returned from furlough. Then [sound of microphone being bumped starts here] they stayed just one night and destroyed all the municipal buildings in the city and then they left. They came back six months later and they took the city again. They stayed for six days and six nights and they wreaked havoc on the city again, went after the rich people the politicians and everything. Well, they were in Shanghai. They didn't know anything about this.

WILSON: Wasn't anyone telling them?

H. KANE: Well, I....

WILSON: Or would you have to experience it to get the full import?

H. KANE: Yes! [Pauses.] Sure, it's one thing to sit in Shanghai and read about it, but it's another thing to go through it. And another contributing factor was that [pauses].... In the case of Bishop Houghton, I think it is correct to say that he did not believe that God would ever allow Chiang Kai-Shek, a good, godly, born-again leader, to go down in defeat at the hands of a godless, bloody man like Mao Tse-tung. He just did not believe it and I think it almost became with him a spiritual issue.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: And it became very difficult for him to even contemplate the possibility of a...of a Communist victory. So that colored his thinking and it naturally colored his...his policy, 'cause he was the policy-maker.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: Those of us who were north of the Yangtze River (we were among them), we were the first in the line of defense when the Communists were coming down from the north. And we were the first CIM missionaries to stay through a Communist invasion.

WILSON: The...the missionaries in Fowyang.

H. KANE: Yeah. The policy, well, my...yeah. The policy was, in those days, "You don't fall...fall into the hands of the Communists. You keep one jump a head of them."

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: Because we had had...we had had experience with the Communists way back in 1935 when two of our missionaries fell into their hands and were held by them for two years.

WILSON: This was Mr. [Rudolf Alfred] Bosshardt [and...?

H. KANE: Bosshardt and [Arnolis] Hayman. So we...we were not in any hurry to fall into their hands again. But our...we...we fell into their hands and not so much by intention as by accident. We did not know that the group that was about to attack our city were Communists. We thought they were bandits. We had our full share...we had every...everything up in north Anhwei. But when they finally took the city, lo and behold, they turned out to be Communist soldiers, their army. And fortunately, we lived to tell the tale, but it was a little bit,you know, exciting. So they...they didn't know anything about that. And then we stayed on through the second and we stayed on through the third invasion. You know, so...touch and go situations, but we lived to tell the tale. I was...after we moved...after north Anhwei became quite untenable, the work was impossible, and my wife had evacuated, I was told to evacuate. And I finally ended up in the city of Wuhu on the south bank of the Yangtze River. And [pauses] we were there then for about two years before we finally came to be evacuated.

WILSON: In your letters make it very clear that it was not easy to give up Fowyang. Can you flesh that out a little bit for me?

H. KANE: Our first love was Fowyang. We really believed that the Lord sent us to Fowyang. It wasn't just by chance that we ended up in Fowyang. And we loved the people and we loved the work and we.... Maybe it was wrong on our part, but we never could envisage ourselves in any other place but Fowyang. And we were kept very, very busy twelve months of the year, and it was very exciting and very rewarding. And to even contemplate the possibility of having to work elsewhere was unthinkable. That's one reason I was separated from my wife on three different occasions, for a total of almost two years, because we loved Fowyang and the work. Now, most of the other missionaries, when the situation become...became untenable, then they said, "Look, it's too dangerous for women." The husbands said, "Okay, if it's too dangerous for women, it's too dangerous for me. I'm going with my wife. I'm not separating from my wife." So, I think we were one of the very few missionary couples in the whole of the mission who separated voluntarily and knowingly [train noise] for the sake of the work.

WILSON: Um-hmm. It was to that extent that we really loved Fowyang, the people, and the work. It was very, very disappointing for us when we had to leave. We pulled out with great reluctance.

WILSON: Well, now, at the time you left, you didn't really fully comprehend that you weren't going back, either, did you?

H. KANE: No. My wife had been out, and I was there by that time alone. But the mission had a...suddenly had a...a need of [clears throat] a business manager for the men's language school, in the city of...of Anking [new spelling, Anqing] on the Yangtze River. So they said, "Look, the situation up there is deteriorating so fast. It will only be time when've got to leave anyway, so we want you to come up now and go to the language school." And they said, "It will be pro-tem. If you can get back, fine." So I came on a...on a pro-tem basis. But I...I never did get back, which was probably just as well, because I hadn't.... If I...if I left Fowyang for the last time, knowing that I was leaving, it would have been much harder. I left with the hope and the understanding that I would be back. I never got back.

WILSON: Have...over the years, have you ever heard from there again?

H. KANE: No, not since we came home. While I was in Wuhu, I kept in constant contact. Pastor Hsing wrote...wrote...wrote us quite frequently. Matter of fact, he came down to see me once in Wuhu. Again, he came down and had some special meetings in the church in Wuhu. But after we came home for the last time [clears throat], we had.... To this day, we haven't corresponded with any of our friends. [End of train noise.] The reason being that during those turbulent years, especially during the Cultural Revolution, to receive a letter from an ex-missionary, especially an American, would have been enough to incriminate the recipient. And we didn't think that it was worth running that risk. So we never wrote to them and they never wrote to us.

WILSON: Now, but...but you weren't Americans. We...well, I guess you would have been....

H. KANE: No, that's right. While we were in China, we were actually Canadians.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: But who...nobody in China ever heard of Canada, and everyth...the...the church was known as the Mei Guo Fu-Yin-T'ang. Mei Guo is American; Fu-Yin-T'ang is the Gospel hall. That's...the churches all over China were known as Fu-Yin. It was the Mei Guo Fu-Yin-T'ang, and if you said [burps] (excuse me)...not Mei Guo, it's Jianada Fu-Yin-T'ang (that's Canad...Canadians), you would have wasted your time and your effort. So I never bothered to correct them. If they thought I was an American, that was okay by me.

WILSON: Un-huh. But I think I remember in your letters again that you mentioned that [pauses] it got a little rough toward the end there because people assumed you were Americans and were treating you a little more nastily than they would have if they had been able to make the distinction.

H. KANE: Yeah, that was after we were under the Communists a couple of years and I was arrested on one occasion by their sort of secret police. And that became quite ugly. And they just assumed I was an American...they called me American foreign devil. And I said, "There are two things wrong with that." I said, "One, I'm not an American, the second, I'm not a foreign devil." I said....

WILSON: What was the charge?

H. KANE: Oh, well, they ended up with three charges. They arrested me and took me over and interrogated me for, oh, about five hours, I guess, and then they finally left me and set me free. They...they arrested me because they said I was on the street without a permit. I didn't have to have a permit. I had...I would have to have a permit if I left the city and went to Nanking, but not within the confines of the city. And I knew that and they knew that, but they were...they were two young whippersnappers of the People's Liberation Army, as they were called. And they just apprehended me and said, "Follow us," and I had to go to their police station. Well, they went [pauses] get themselves off the hook, they had to pin some guilt on me. So they said, "This is crime number one." [Clears throat.] Then they said, "Crime number two is [clears throat] you have been preaching since this place was liberated three weeks ago." And I said, "Yeah, that's true. I've been preaching. But there's nothing wrong with that. Mao Tse-tung himself has said that there is a complete freedom of religion in all liberated areas." I'd read that in the paper. I knew it was a fact. Well, they said, "No, it is not a fact. Moreover," they said, "you have no right to take the name of Mao Tse-tung on your lips. He's our Tsui kao da ling shu. He's our Supreme Commander. You've no right to even mention his name." So that became....

WILSON: You can't argue with that [chuckles].

H. KANE: That became [clears throat]...I was only digging my own hole deeper. So I said, "Okay, give me a pen and a piece of paper and I'll sign these...these confessions." And I could sign the confessions in good faith because I had done these two things.

WILSON: The question was whether or not they were crimes.

H. KANE: They were not crimes. They knew they were not crimes, but, for the time being, they said they were crimes and once they have said it's a crime, it's a crime. So then as I...I confessed these two crimes, I said, "Now, what's the third crime?" They said, "What you said about Mao Tse-tung, that's a crime, too! So you've got to put that down." So I said, "Okay. I said it about Mao Tse-tung." So I good conscience, I could sign this three-fold confession. And [clears throat] I signed it and they set me free. Fortunately I could in good in good conscience sigh that so-called confession. If they want to call act a crime, that's a matter of terminology. I had committed the act and...and that's all I said in the statement. But it's in my file in Peking now [laughs].

WILSON: I want to turn this tape over.

*New from here on.

WILSON: Now in our last few remaining minutes, I'd like have you talk about the infamous Manifesto that was put together in Ma...May of 1950, I believe? You know, this...this is something that depended on who was telling the story. It is seen either as a very evil or a very positive step, depending on who's telling the story. And [pauses] so I...I'd like to hear your reflections on...on the rationale for the Manifesto, why it was put together, and on what it meant for the Chinese church.

H. KANE: Well, Chou En-lai [1898-1976] called the leaders of the Protestant churches together to Peking and had a conference with them. The government was determined to get rid of the missionaries. The problem was how do you do it gracefully without stirring up a lot of misunderstanding and opposition in the world, and in the United Nations, and all that kind of thing. There were at that time four thousand five hundred Protestant missionaries and eight thousand Roman Catholic missionaries, so.... And the missionaries that had stayed through the revolution were staying on. A couple of thousand Protestant missionaries left before the Communists came to power. They saw the handwriting on the wall and they just pulled out. Those that stayed continued to stay. Missionaries, by and large, are a tenacious bunch of customers. They don't pull up and leave at the first sight or sound of danger. So Chou En-lai said, "Now look, we have tried to get rid of them, but we haven't succeeded. Now it's really up to you to get rid of the missionaries. They're your friends, not ours. And if you get rid of the missionaries, then the Chinese church can become a purely indigenous Chinese church. Get rid of all missionaries, get rid of all foreign support, become a truly indigeous Chinese church. And then we will implement the clause in our constitution that guarantees religious freedom." Well, that was a pretty big plum to hold before the Chinese church leaders. So that was really the rationale for this Manifesto. So they'd got to come up with some kind of statement clarifying their position and giving some rationale for getting rid of the missionaries. So they came up with this Manifesto that was ultimately signed by almost four hundred thousand Christians in China.

WILSON: Not just the church leaders, though, the parishioners....

H. KANE: Oh, no. Oh, no. was sent around and the Three-Self Movement saw to it that it went to every church in China and they got as many signatures as they could. I don't know whether the signatures were padded or not, but anyway they got a lot of signatures. And of course in those days, the Chin...the...the...the church members, ninety-nine out of a hundred, would sign it without batting an eye or asking a question. That was the price of survival and you didn't ask too many questions. There was a lot of truth, of course, in what they said in the Manifesto. They said that there had been a tie-in between the Gospel and the gunboat, between Christianity and colonialism, all of which was perfectly true, if you want to go back into history. The missionaries got into China in the early 1840's as a result of the Treaty of Nanking that was signed in 1842. That came at the close of the Opium War, of all things. And among other things, they...the Western powers forced China to open five treaty ports--Canton in the south to Shanghai up on the coast. And into those five treaty ports went the merchants with their opium and the missionaries with their Bibles. On the same boats, under the same flag. And for a hundred years, this association of the Gospel and the gunboat was something that rankled in the breasts of the...of the Chinese. They knew all about it. They didn't have to concoct a story. The facts were all there, it was simply history. Well, they dug them all up and then they put them all together and made a pretty...painted a pretty black picture of the missionaries. So they ended up by saying, "Look, all missionaries are either spies or they are potential spies, and they don't really represent the church in the West. They rep...they represent the government and the State Department." And had the CIA been in existance in those days, then they would have identified us with the CIA.

WILSON: Un-huh.

H. KANE: So this was signed [clears throat] gradually, over a period of two years, by some four hundred thou...and it appeared in every newspaper in China, every newspaper in China. And it was the talk of the town for...for weeks and weeks and weeks. And it was just pointing out that Christianity came to China about a hundred years before, and from the very beginning it was part and parcel of the colonial structure and system. "It was imposed upon us against our will. Now we have been liberated. Things are new, and they're never going to be the same again. And so the missionaries...the church will have to become a purely indigenous church and be on the guard against any attempt on the part of missionaries or churches in the West to again engage in this kind of imperialistic activity." That was the sum and substance of the...what they called the Christian Manifesto. And so, after that, of course, the...the missionaries really didn't have much choice, because by that time the church leaders were putting themselves at a distance from the missionaries. Naturally, if the party line is that the missionaries are spies, who wants to be friends with spies in the midst. And so they didn't...they ceased coming to our house and they made it known that we were no longer welcome in their house. We cou...we could understand this.

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: To go to their house would be to incriminate them. We would be no sooner out of their house than...than the secret police would be around asking them, "Who are these people? What are they doing? What did they say? Why did they come? Why don't they go home?" with a long rigamarole, you know. You'd put the Chinese Christians, and especially the church leaders, in a very, very severe bind. So there was nothing really for an honest missionary to do under those conditions but to agree to withdraw. Because we knew that, sooner or later, there would be a show-down between the church and the government on [pauses]...on religious grounds. Communism atheistic, and Christianity is theistic. Sooner or later they're going to have to stand up for their faith. But if we stay and force our presence on them, then we force them to fight a...a gov...a...a war with the government on two fronts. On the religious front, ultimately, but now on the political front. And they've got to justify their friendship with America. And America, of course, was enemy number one. More than fifty per cent of all the missionaries in China in those days were from the United States.

WILSON: Surely.

H. KANE: So we had a very bad image. So there was nothing to do but to offer to withdraw. And then when we offered to withdraw, the...they really heaved a sign of relief. And that was misunderstood by a lot of people. "Oh, how come the church leaders were glad to see the...see the...see the en...see the last of you?" That was the reason.

WILSON: Um-hmm. Not understoo...misunderstood on North America?

H. KANE: Misunderstood in North America. Misunderstood by some people in China who should have known better. Even Stephen Neill [1900- ], in one of his books, said, "It points up the fact that...that the church leaders were glad to see the missionaries go." And he puts a period there. Now that's....

WILSON: [Laughs.] Without any modifier, huh?

H. KANE: Without any explanation. His statement is correct. But there's no interpretation. They were...they heaved a sigh of relief. They were really happy to see us go, and I don't blame them. And I said to them before we left, I said, [pounding sound] "Now, look, you're going to have to stand up for your faith in Christ before long. You be sure that separate the politics from religion [bumps microphone]. And after we have gone, they'll make you say all kinds of things about us and sign all kinds of documents. Whatever they want you to say about us, you say it. Don't try to defend your friendship with us. If you can defend your faith in Christ, that's all you're required to do."

WILSON: Um-hmm.

H. KANE: And so then we left. And when we left...and then, of course, they did...they...they...they had a fight with the government. But then wasn't because we were there. Then there was a fight where they...on religious grounds, not on political grounds.

WILSON: Um-hmm. Oh, we are, I regret to say, out of time.


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