This is a complete and accurate transcript of the oral history interview of Winnifred Shepherd Kane (Collection 182, #T2) 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.
... 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, #T2. Interview of Winnifred Shepherd Kane by Galen R. Wilson, 1982.
[Short interference in the beginning.]
WILSON: This is Tuesday, April 20th, 1982. We are with Winnifred Shepherd Kane, who, with her husband J. Herbert Kane, was a missionary to China under the China Inland Mission from 1935 to 1950. We are this morning at the Billy Graham Center Archives in Wheaton. Mrs. Kane, be...before we get to China here, I'd...I'd like to ask you a little bit about your days at Moody.
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: What specifically intrigues me is how did anyone newly married in 1932 get through a school of higher education when the Depression was on? How...how do you make ends meet?
W. KANE: Well, my husband had a job most of the time. All of the time, actually, apart from the first few weeks, of course, when he was looking for a job. First of all, he worked in the Thompson chain restaurants, which I guess are no more. I haven't seen them around here for a long time. And then he became the dining room man at Moody Bible Institute and, of course, that was a full-time job and that helped us through. Also, I had what we called "dumb work," which means that we did domestic work around the Institute for an hour a day. It was supposed to be an hour a day. Sometimes it was longer, sometimes it was less, and for that we got a dollar and a quarter knocked off our...our...our bill. Our total bill was seven-fifty a week and to get a dollar and a quarter knocked off that brought it down to six twenty-five. And we felt we could manage that. And the Lord took care of us. We had...folks sent gifts and so on and that saw us through. And we were never very conscious of financial strain.
WILSON: Um-hmm. Now your...your husband worked in the...in the dining...
W. KANE: In the dining room, um-hmm.
WILSON: So I...I'm trying to remember back now to your letters. Wasn't there a big...was it scarlet fever, that happened as a result of some milk that was...?
W. KANE: That was after we left.
WILSON: Oh, okay [chuckles]. Here I thought we were going to get a first-hand account of this.
W. KANE: [Laughs.] No, that was after we left.
WILSON: [Chuckles.] Alrighty. [Pauses.] When you first went to China, a lot of your letters, of course, are...are very much involved in describing the...the differences in the culture and all. And one of the...the things that, at least to me as a third party reader, seemed to be intriguing, was your description of Chinese church services and the...the lack of decorum and all. Describe for us here a little bit about those church services and, [pauses] as much as you're able to, why they were the way they were as much as what they were.
W. KANE: I guess they were the way they were because that was the way the Chinese did things [chuckles].
W. KANE: Um-hmm. It was very interesting. Of course, most of the...most of the problems were due to the fact that there were children in the...in the congregation. And they just ran around and did what they wanted to do and...and it didn't bother the Chinese one little bit. I mean, they were accustomed to it. That's the way things were always done and we were the only ones who seemed to notice it at all.
W. KANE: And I guess missionaries from time to time had tried to, [pauses] shall we say, teach them better, from our point of view [laughs] and...but I...it hadn't been too successful. Of course in our church...our church in Fowyang [new spelling, Fuyang] was a large church. There would probably be three or four hundred, five hundred people there and that means that there were a lot of children there, too. And so it sometimes seemed very upset and noisy and so on. But, as I say, we were the only ones who noticed it. The Chinese weren't bothered by it at all.
WILSON: How much [pauses]...how much of one's own culture does one have to lay on the altar of sacrifice to become an effective worker in a different culture? How...how much of your Canadian heritage did you have to just keep alive only in the confines of your home?
W. KANE: I guess [clears throat] the thing that we noticed most...that we had to follow their way and not ours was our relationship with each other in public. Chinese men and their wives never speak in public, they never appear together in public. So when we went to church my husband went first and I went afterwards. And once in a while, if we were together with the pastor and the Bible woman, for instance, and so on, we would address each other. But in a...in a...a group of people who were not church people, that wouldn't have been wise, because then they would have thought we were very strange and, you know, not very well bred and that sort of thing. And...
WILSON: Is that...?
W. KANE: ...afterwards...after the children became older and they were able to walk to church with us, then we decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to go to church as a family. Perhaps as...as examples to any church people who might see us operating as a family and also to any others who might see us on our way to church on Sunday morning.
WILSON: Now this...this whole idea of proper relations between you and your husband. Was that something that you just picked up by observing or were you specifically told that when you were in language school and when you first arrived in China?
W. KANE: Yes, they were...they were very good about telling us things that would be wise for us not to do or wise for us to do if we weren't accustomed to doing them. And when we got to our station, too, the...our senior missionaries told us, you know, what would be acceptable and what would not be acceptable and so on.
W. KANE: And one thing that I learned when we got to our station was that if...that I should never wear sleeves above my elbows because that was something which they considered very suggestive. So even in the summer time, you know, if I wore short sleeves they were below...
WILSON: Three quarter sleeves?
W. KANE: Yes, three quarter length. Um-hmm. I also remember our...our folks used to send us parcels, especially before the war broke out and...and parcels got through quite well. And they sent...sent me some silk stockings. I'm not sure that they were nylon away back then (they may have been among the first nylon stockings), but anyway they were flesh colored stockings and I wore them to church on Sunday morning, feeling, you know, very fashionable and so on [laughs]. And the pastor came in that afternoon and he didn't speak to me. He spoke to my husband. He said, "Mrs. Kane didn't have any stockings on this morning in church," which of course would have been a terrible thing. And my husband said, "Oh, yes, she did. They were stockings that were sent her from home." "Well," he said, "it looked as if she didn't have any on so she better not wear them again" [laughs].
W. KANE: Un-huh. So I just kept them and wore them when we went away on vacation [laughs]. Um-hmm. And the pastor was very good about telling us if we, you know, did something like that, that would be misunderstood by the other people, especially outsiders who might think that we were very strange and not...perhaps not quite as careful as we should be. Um-hmm.
WILSON: The...the pastor himself was quite comfortable in...in looking on your heart rather than the outward appearance?
W. KANE: [Laughs].
WILSON: Is that what you're saying?
W. KANE: Well, he felt that he ought to...I think he felt that he ought to let us know if we were making the wrong impression.
W. KANE: He...he knew that we wouldn't want to do anything that would offend people outside of the church, even some people inside...in the church, perhaps. And so he...I don't think he was comfortable because Chinese are never comfortable telling other people where they're wrong. You know, they...that, in a sense, would be causing them to lose face and the Chinese never, never feel comfortable about making someone else lose face. But because he knew we would not misunderstand him and because he knew that it might have repercussions so far as the work was concerned, so he did it. But it was one of the things he did [pauses] for the sake of the work, I'm sure [chuckles].
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: Wh...why did you folks choose China in the first place? What...what about it?
W. KANE: Well, [pauses] many of the books that we read.... When I was first converted.... I was converted in a Brethren Sunday school in which my husband's brother was one of the teachers.
WILSON: Would it be Wilfred?
W. KANE: Wilfred, yes, and when I was first converted he undertook to keep me supplied with reading material. I was...I had been a great reader from the time I was about five or six. And so I was...I was an avid reader of missionary books. And many of the books that he lent me were books dealing with the work in China or with China missionaries, their biographies, and so on. And I became interested in missions. Then I met my husband and he was interested in...in literature about China. He used to get the...what was called then China's Millions [magazine published by China Inland Mission], and he lent me that. And it just seemed that when we...the CIM, the old CIM, used to have annual missionary meetings in Montreal and we always attended those. And it just seemed that...that was the mission that attracted us. And China was...anything about China, of course, we read immediately. We just couldn't wait to...to get at it. And I guess that the Lord put that in our hearts because that was where He wanted us.
W. KANE: I don't think it had anything to do with [pauses] the Chinese people per se, because we didn't...we didn't know any Chinese people, except...except in the Chinese laundries that used to...that we used to have in those days. And it was, I think, just that the Lord put that interest in China and desire to meet the spiritual needs of China in our hearts that we went. And then when we came to Moody, it seemed that so many of the missionaries we heard at Moody were also from China. And so that's...that's [laughs] the only reason I [laughs]...I went to China, so far as I know.
WILSON: Now...while you were still at Moody, that was when John and Betty Stam were killed.
W. KANE: They were killed. Um-hmm.
WILSON: [Pauses.] The more chicken among us, including myself, [Kane chuckles] would have thought twice about going into a situation where such a thing had just so recently happened. What did...did that...their martyrdom have any effect on how you viewed China, [pauses], what you hoped for it and for your work?
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Well, we hoped that wouldn't happen to us, of course [laughs].
WILSON: [Both laugh.] Well, okay.
W. KANE: But, no, the mission continued to send out workers, and so, if they were willing to send us, we went. Our year, which was the (they were killed in 1934).... We went out in 1935. The mission didn't send single women that year, exce...unless they were already engaged to somebody who was on the field, because of the upset conditions. So there weren't too many women in the women's language school that year and I was the only married women who went out. But, no, the mission didn't seem to think that it was necessary for us to wait and so we just went right ahead.
WILSON: Now, one thing you said there in...intrigued me. You said, "in the women's language school." Now, you and your husband were not together in language school?
W. KANE: Yes, we were. We were. They sent me to the men's language school, so that we would be able to...
WILSON: [Both laugh.] Oh...oh, okay.
W. KANE: [laughs] ...to...to be together.
WILSON: But ordinarily they were kept separate?
W. KANE: No, no. The women were...always went to the men...if you were married, the wom...the wife always went to the men's language school.
WILSON: But, if you're single, it was...?
W. KANE: If you're single, yes, they were separated. The women's language school was in...in...[pauses] I just can't remember the name of the place now. It was in another province and we were in...in Anking [new spelling, Anqing] which was in the province of Anhwei [new spelling, Anhui].
WILSON: Now, what...what's the rationale for that, do you know?
W. KANE: Yes. The Chinese would never have understood it had there been women and men together in one compound if they weren't married. This would just never have taken. That was the only reason, I think. Hm-hmm.
WILSON: Very interesting.
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: I guess as I think back on your letters now, there weren't a whole lot of women around then so....
W. KANE: [Laughs.] No, I was the only one. There were twenty...there were twenty-five men and me [laughs].
WILSON: Did the Chinese understand that?
W. KANE: Um-hmm, 'cause we were married.
WILSON: Un-huh. When we were talking about husband-wife relationships in public and all, I...I was thinking.... [pauses]. Madam Chiang used to appear with her husband, did she not?
W. KANE: Yes.
WILSON: This...this is later in your time there. You...you met them, did you not?
W. KANE: We met her...we met her on Kuling [situated on a mountain, hence the word "on"]. I forget where he was. He was probably up north some where. But she was on Kuling and so she came to our...our language school. It...the...Fairy Glen was the language school when she came there...and she came there. And we had a tea for her and she met all of the missionaries who were there.
WILSON: Um-hmm. What were your impressions of her?
W. KANE: Well, in...in one hour you don't much change your impression of a person, you know, about whom you've been reading for years and years in the newspapers and so on. She seemed to be a very nice lady, very genteel, kind, and we...we enjoyed meeting her. That was...that was quite an event [laughs].
WILSON: Un-huh. Did the...the mission in general, I assume, favored Chiang.
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Um-hmm.
WILSON: [Pauses.] I'm trying to think how to phrase the question here. [Pauses] In one of the...the pieces that your husband wrote after your return to America in the '50s, he made the comment that...[pauses] or at least left the impression that Chiang had not been as [pauses]...as good to the West as he might have been. I don't know if I'm making sense here or not.
W. KANE: As good to the West, in what sense do you mean that?
WILSON: In the sense that.... I...I think the comment was that the West did not sell out Chiang, but it was the other way around. [Pauses.] Maybe I'm going down a blind alley here.
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: I just would...did...was Chiang's relationship with the mission...?
W. KANE: Always seemed to be good. Um-hmm. Um-hmm. No, I don't know in what sense he would have said that.
WILSON: I maybe misquoting, too, so....
W. KANE: Yeah [laughs].
WILSON: [Laughs] Better pull in there. One thing that I would like for you to talk about at great length is the topic that has been of great interest, in the students that have been researching in the Archives here, is the whole topic of m.k.'s [missionary's kids] and the special concerns of raising a family and keeping a sense of family in a situation where the family is necessarily separated.
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: And there were times when...when you and your husband and the children were all...
W. KANE: [Chuckles] Um-hmm.
WILSON: [pauses]...so if you would, tell me a little bit about, [pauses] the [pauses]...the way one keeps a family together spiritually or emotionally when...when physically you're not, what affect it has on parents, what effect it has on the children.
W. KANE: Well, of course, this was something that we kn...we knew would be part of our missionary life right from the beginning, since we went out under the China Inland Mission. This was...they had a...a wonderful school for the children of their missionaries. We were told that the Chefoo School had one of the best records so far as.... They took the Oxford matriculation when they got through, and they had one of the best records of all the schools who took Oxford matriculation. They really had a...a...a A-number-one school as far as the education was concerned. And when it became impossible for me to stay on the station with my husband, I worked in the school. And that was...that was a real experience for me. I had never met people who were so dedicated to their work as those teachers and administrators in the Chefoo School. They...they were not...they were dedicated not only to...to good education for those...for the missionaries' children, but to making them feel as much a part of a family as possible. Those teachers taught all day, and then they took turns being with the children from the time they were out of school in the afternoon until they went to bed at night. They had special kinds of programs for them, walks in the woods for natural history studies, and...and games, and.... It was just...it was just amazing to me that these people had such a dedication to...to the education and to the training, not only mentally but spiritually and in every other way, [of] those children. They had...they had choirs, they had music, they had games, they had everything and the whole thing was carried on by the people who were their teachers all day long. I mean....
WILSON: Un-huh. Pulling in double duty, in essence.
W. KANE: Absolutely and...and enjoying it. It was...it was really...I had never met people whom I admired so much.
WILSON: Who were some of those people?
W. KANE: Well, the principal at the time we were th...our children were there was [pauses] Houghton, Stanley Houghton, and the...the...the other...the other princ...the assistant principal, whose name has just left me. Miss Broomhall was one of the teachers. Bea Stark was one of the teachers. Al Sekar was one of the teachers. And Dr. Pierce was the school doctor, and I worked as...I worked under him as the matron and I helped to, you know, dole out the pills [laughs] and...and the medicine, and that sort of thing. Yeah. That...that...that was a good year that I spent on Kuling. I...I surely enjoyed it. But so far as our experience of being away from our children, separated from our children, as I say, we realized right from the very beginning of our life in China that, if we ever had children, when they became school age, they would be going to school. So we kind of prepared ourself for that. And we also tried to prepare our children for it. We told them that when they became six years old, they would be going away to school. And we explained to them that this [pauses] would be their contribution to the work, because we couldn't keep them at home, and teach them, and take care of them, and do the work at the same time. So when they went to school, they would be making a real contribution to the evangelization of the Chinese. This is...we felt this was necessary because...and this was the fact. I mean, you know....
WILSON: And you're not just feeding them a line. This is the truth.
W. KANE: No! No, other condit...under no other conditions would we have been willing to send them away. And...and we tried to [pauses] make them look forward to going to school by telling them the good things that they would have there that they didn't have on the station. They were the only two children on the station. So, you know, if we'd kept them at home, they would of had no sports, no playmates except themselves. And so we kept them looking forward to what they would have when they went to school. And the Lord, I think, takes care of it. But, actually, all of our [clears throat]...of the fifteen years in China, the only thing that we really regarded as a sacrifice was saying good-bye to our children and sending them off to school. You know, you can get along without a lot of things, like we never had electricity in China, we never had running water in China, we never had any of those things that are so much a part of our life at home. But you can adjust to that in about one week, [chuckles] in less than that, [Wilson chuckles] as a matter of fact. Two days, you know, when you reali..."Well, we don't have it, so we don't have it." But being separated from your children, you don't get accustomed to that. And that was the only thing that we ever regarded as a sacrifice. And it was hard on...I guess it was hard on the boys, too, though [pauses] the...the folks at the school told us that they adjusted quite easily and quite readily. Some...but they say that most of the children did. Three or four days and they were able to fit into their slot in the school and enjoy one another. Sometimes, they said, that a...very, very few children took more than a week to...to get adjusted to school.
WILSON: Well, after you were up at Kuling, you...you saw a lot of it from the other end, didn't you?
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Um-hmm.
WILSON: So what were your personal thoughts on it, of watching children come in? How...how did you view their reaction?
W. KANE: Actually, I guess I wasn't there very long [pause] because, when it became possible for me to go back to...into the work, I went back. I guess I was there for about a year. So not too many children came as...in for the first time. Some of them...the parents came back from furlough and brought their children up and went. And actually everybody just rallied around and, you know, took care of them and did extra things for them. [Pauses.] They seemed to get along okay. Every Sunday afternoon was letter writing time, and the children all had to sit down and write th...write a letter to their parents. That was a good thing. And parents, most of them, did a good job of...of writing to their children and keeping in touch with their children. We always used to try to put something in our letters. The boys began collecting stamps, so we would try to get different kinds of stamps and put them in our letters. So that, you know, not only would they have word from Mom and Dad, but they'd have something else to look forward to. Just a little.... [Pauses.] Stanley put a [pauses] bookmark in the form of a cross in one of his letters to us at Easter time, and Easter that year was April the ninth. And I came across that just a...just about a year ago. That...it had been put in a...in a book that we hadn't used and I opened the book and here was this bookmark from Stanley, [train noise] "To Mom and Dad, Happy Easter, [laughs] April the ninth." That was a...brought back some memories.
WILSON: Un-huh. Well, now, in a...in one...in one of the letters (this was before you got to Kuling), I seem to remember a problem with an obnoxious bully that was getting on Stanley's case. [Bumps microphone.] [End of train noise.] But Stanley wasn't telling you anything about it in his letters. Wasn't that the deal?
W. KANE: I don't think he did. Um-hmm.
WILSON: Now [pauses], why was that?
W. KANE: [Chuckles] I really don't know why he wouldn't tell us, but, I guess, you know, he just didn't want to worry us perhaps.
WILSON: Is that something that you think is harder on you or harder on the children?
W. KANE: Well, that would have been hard on him, I would imagine. Um-hmm. I think [clears throat] if the...if the staff became aware of it, they would have taken care of it. And, as a matter of fact, I think they did eventually. Because when I...when I got there, I'm not sure that...the boy was still there, but I think probably he and Stanley just didn't get together, you know.
WILSON: Which was just as well.
W. KANE: Right [laughs]!
WILSON: Describe Stanley Houghton for me. Now he...that was his name, wasn't it...
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Um-hmm.
WILSON: ...the headmaster and...and he was Bishop Houghton's brother?
W. KANE: Brother, yeah. Um-hmm. [Pauses] He was...well, he was just an excellent man for the job. He loved those kids. He would take them in...have them in his office, you know, if they were having problems. He would have them in his office and talk to them and pray with them. He played with them. He...and they loved him. You never saw Stanley Hou...Houghton without half a dozen little kids, you know, hanging on to his hands and running along beside him and talking to him. He was just really great with them.
WILSON: Um-hmm. Did you...the year that you were at Kuling, did you see the children making surrogate parents out of their teachers and...and Mr. Houghton? I mean....
W. KANE: Well, I don't know whether you would say surrogate parents. But they certainly...the children realized that they were loved by these people and so they loved them in return, and gave them their trust, and they gave them their [chuckles] love. And it was...it was really something to see, that to these people who...who weren't parents of the children at all, but because the Lord had called them to this work of teaching missionaries' children, they just gave themselves one hundred and ten percent to them. It was really tremendous.
WILSON: Then while...while you were matroning at Kuling, were you able to be [pauses]...did you have opportunities to be motherly to your children?
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Yes. To my own children?
WILSON: To your own children.
W. KANE: Right. I did. I had a room on the floor on which [Wilson clears throat] the boys slept. Of course, they slept with a...in a group of about eight, I guess, and then I had a room on that floor. And whenever [clears throat] they wanted to come in, they were...they had the...the freedom to come. And so we did have times to pray together. You know, we used to have family prayers together and so on. And then I could go in and kiss them good night [chuckles]. And I ended up kissing several others good night as well [both laugh]. Oh, yes, there was all kinds of freedom for the families that were there to...to...to get together....
WILSON: To be families.
W. KANE: Um-hmm. To be families. Um-hmm.
WILSON: What...looking back on it, what effect do you see that it had on...on you, as an individual and on your marriage, to be separated from your husband for so many times for...at such great lengths? [Pauses] I mean, you're obviously still together, but [laughs]....
W. KANE: We are [laughs], fifty years this year [laughs]. This is something too, I think, that when you do it for the Lord's sake, He takes care of it. Perhaps if we had been...because of a career we had been separated these long times, we may not have been able to pick up again, when we got together, where we left off. But this was something that was done because the work made it necessary and that work was the Lord's work. And because we did it for His sake, He undertook for us and undertook for our marriage and for our family. And so...so far as...any adverse affects on our marriage or on our relationship, there just weren't any. And I think, you know, the Lord is no man's debtor, and what you give to Him He gives back to you a hundred-fold. And so we weren't the only ones who were doing that in those days....
WILSON: Oh, surely.
W. KANE: You know, a lot of missionaries were separated because of the war, because of all sorts of political situations. Now take the...the two men who were taken captive...
WILSON: Oh, [Rudolf Alfred] Bosshardt and [Arnolis] Hayman.
W. KANE: Bosshardt and Hayman. Now they were separated for a year or two as I...as I recall and the Lord took care of their separations, too. There were no divorces when they got back together [laughs].
WILSON: I was especially interested in your letters when you would...were writing home about that. [Pauses.] You...you kept remarking about what their wives must be going through and I could tell that you...you were identifying with a certain faction here, but [pauses] did....
W. KANE: Except that their husbands were in more immediate danger...
WILSON: Oh, to be sure.
W. KANE: ...yeah, than...than my husband was.
WILSON: Well, I...wha...you were saying, "I don't know if I could deal with it if it were a bird [?] in that situation and I wonder how I would deal with it." [Train noise.] But you certainly had your times when you feared for your husband's life.
W. KANE: Cert...yeah...[unclear] for his safety, because he was [chuckles]...if he wouldn't have been in danger, I would have been there with him. You see what I mean?
W. KANE: But he was not in the hands of the... [Japanese, Communists?]
W. KANE: ...and he was able to keep one step ahead of them. And there were times when we didn't have much in the way of mail from each other because the mails weren't getting through. But those are the things that [chuckles], you know, we don't look back on. We look back on the...on the service, the work, the happy times we had.
W. KANE: [Train noise ends.] And...and the Lord undertook for us in those days as He promises to do. He just does. Um-hmm.
WILSON: Very good. Beautiful testimony.
W. KANE: [Laughs.]
WILSON: I want to also ask you about the jail evangelism. In many of your letters, you talked about visiting the jails and....
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Now, I didn't do much of that. My husband did. He and the pastor used to go to the jail and...and preach to the prisoners there.
WILSON: What kind of results came out of that kind of work that you recall?
W. KANE: [Pauses.] I suppose there were one or two who became interested, maybe one or two who were saved. But as I recall that wasn't one of the more fruitful types of ministry. Um-hmm.
WILSON: Un-huh. What were the fruitful types?
W. KANE: Well, the fruitful types were evangelism and that was done mostly by the Chinese evangelists. And the...they had [pauses] evangelistic bands who went out to the country, preached the gospel, and souls were saved. And not only evangelistic bands. We had women, elderly women. You'll un...a women is old in China if she is fifty [laughs] and women of fifty or sixty years of age who had bound feet. I remember one little old lady, she had feet about four or five inches long. And, you know, they just...they don't walk. They just stomp along on those little feet. And she would go out to the country, walking with a cane, and she would be out two or three weeks, three or four weeks. She would go from one village to another and preach the Gospel. And, bless your heart, she would lead souls to the Lord. And then she would come back and in the women's meeting she would tell us what the Lord had done. It was really thrilling. But there was...we were in a responsive part of the...of the country. And then my husband's work was going out to the country and holding Bible conference...Bible teaching for these that had been saved. And the women on the station, too...Ruth Nowack, she used to...she had [pauses] phonetics classes to teach the women to read the phonetic script. And then the Bible Society was [clears throat] printing the Gospels in the phonetic script. So that these women who learned to read the phonetic script...script could [bumps microphone] read the...the Bible for themselves. And then Emmy Stevens also used to work in the country. She had the Bible classes. And so the Chinese did the evangelistic work and the missionaries did the...the teaching. Because of the children [clears throat], I didn't get to do much...very...and not any country work. But I worked with the women in the city, and with the Sunday school with the children, and did visitation in the city. And then, as I think I remarked before, I fell heir to the accounting [chuckles]. We were the...we were the local sect [?] for the entire area, and so we kept all the accounts for the area. And so since I was in the city and my husband wasn't, I fell into that [laughs] [clears throat].
WILSON: Well, that...that leads nicely into another thing I wanted to ask you about. You also fell heir to the United Nations relief supplies, didn't you?
W. KANE: Yes...well, yes. They used to like to do their relief work through the missionaries if they could, because [chuckles]...
WILSON: Because they trusted you or...?
W. KANE: ...because they trusted the missionaries, yes. Um-hmm.
WILSON: Now, how...how did that system work?
W. KANE: [Pauses.] I think we got the money through the bank. They'd send it to us through the bank, I'm pretty sure, and....
WILSON: It was money but not supplies or...?
W. KANE: Some of it was supplies. Yes, some of it was supplies. And the...ther...there was a Roman Catholic station in our city and my husband and the priests used to handle the...the distribution of supplies and the...and the...the division of the money.
WILSON: How [pauses]...how was the relief money and supplies divvied up? I mean t...to whom did it go, an....?
W. KANE: It went directly to the people themselves.
WILSON: Un-huh. Who came to apply for it or...?
W. KANE: [Clears throat.] Um-hmm. 'Cause I...or else...I just don't recall quite clearly, but I do remember that there used to be [pauses] [train noise] people who would come for help and they would...they would give it to them. Mostly...mostly in...now, it wouldn't be rice, because we were not a rice...it must have been wheat. We were a wheat area and so the people would want wheat. And that would be what they would get, I guess. I just don't recall too clearly.
WILSON: Um-hmm. When...when the relief work was going on, was the problem for the folks who needed the relief that they didn't have the money to buy the supplies or that the supplies just weren't on the market in the city. [Pauses.] Or maybe better....
W. KANE: They...it...it probably was a combination of both, because there were times when we couldn't have...we couldn't get the supplies. And, of course, the people were so poor they just couldn't, because of the war and so on, they...they just couldn't have the money to...to buy it.
WILSON: Um-hmm. In your letters, you talked a lot about the home visitation work that you did. [Pauses.] Can you recount for us any specifically memorable experiences in being in Chinese homes and sharing the Gospel with them, its reception and....
W. KANE: Oh, they always loved to have the missionary visit them in their homes. They just thought that was the last word. One of the...the deacons in the church, his wife was ill at one time, and the Bible woman and I went to see her and to pray with her, you know, and to tell her that we were sorry she was sick and so on. You know, what you usually do when you visit a sick person [chuckles]. And I think sh...after that, when she was well, she never saw me in the church without thanking me for going to see her when she was sick. Every time I saw her. And if there was someone standing by, she would say, "You know, she came to see me when I was sick." And so they were very responsive and grateful for anythi...any [pauses] affection that you showed them, any love that you lavished upon them. They were...especially the women because, you know, they just don't get it [laughs]. And....
WILSON: From their husbands, or from the society, or what?
W. KANE: Not [laughs]...now that sounds terrible to say from their husbands.
WILSON: [Laughs] Okay.
W. KANE: Their husbands appreciated...but, you know, in the Chinese culture, they just don't. They just don't. They love them, probably, but they don't show it. I mean, why should they. They're their wives and so there they are and so....
WILSON: Sounds very Victorian British.
W. KANE: [Laughs.] Right.
W. KANE: [Laughs.] Right. But they were very, very appreciative, the women especially, as I say, for any indication of...of affection or love or appreciation that you...that you gave them.
WILSON: Um-hmm. When you did home visitations, was it strictly with women, or did you...?
W. KANE: Yes. When I went, we went to visit the women.
WILSON: If...if the man was at home, would he sit with you and visit, or was that not proper.
W. KANE: No, I guess...no, he would stay probably, but we very, very seldom found the man at home. Especially in the living quarters. Maybe outside in the compound or maybe in the guest room, but we very seldom found him in the living quarters with the wife and children, if the children were there.
WILSON: Um-hmm. [Pauses] After the Communists took over, I believe this was still in Fowyang,...
W. KANE: Yeah, we were in Fowyang when they...when they...they came the first time and the...the second time.... The first time, they just stayed over night. The second time they stayed a week and then after that we felt that I should leave because [laughs], as you know, here you wer...go again. It sounds very melodramatic to say it, but the Communists, if they came back, they might have figured that we were among the ones that they should liquidate. And so they would have liquidated us and then our children would have been left without a mother and a father. And we felt that at least if we could manage it we ought to save one of us for them [laughs]. So that was why I...I went out after they had left the second time. And I think [pauses]...I don't quite remember whether they came back the third time while my husband was there alone or whether, you know, conditions just got so bad in the area that the mission thought we should leave. I just don't quite recall that. But I know we were there though two invasions.
WILSON: Well, I believe that it was during the second that you wrote a terrific letter home telling about a [pauses]...soldiers coming into you home.
W. KANE: Um-hmm. Um-hmm. [Laughs].
WILSON: Can you recount that for us?
W. KANE: [Laughs.] I guess we knew that they would come sooner or later. But...and so I...we never went out on the street because we just didn't want to, you know, give them the excuse for...for accosting us. But this morning, I remember, I was in the bedroom doing something, and I thought it was...I thought it was Ruth coming into the house and I said someth..., "Is that you, Ruth?" or something like that. Didn't get a reply, but a...a cough in a distinctly male voice and I turned around and here was a Communist soldier. And very quickly I said, "Oh, you want to see my husband, don't you?" [laughs] and I led him out to my husband's study. And I...I just left him there and came back into the house and let my husband take care of him. I wasn't very brave [laughs].
WILSON: But did you [pauses]...at the time, even after you stopped to think about it, did you think you were in any personal danger at that point?
W. KANE: I probably wasn't, but I...I thought I could be, you know. Um-hmm. I probably wasn't, because he...he came in and when I said, "You want to see my husband?" and I said, "He's over here," he just went with me and he didn't make any move to...to molest me in any way. So I probably wasn't. He probably had just come in to satisfy his curiosity, see what the foreigners were like.
W. KANE: Um-hmm.
WILSON: [Pauses.] In...in Wuhu, after you were reunited when you came down out of Kuling, [pauses] describe for me the...the conditions to...to which the mission work came before you left. I know that that si...situation just went from bad to worse, to worst possible. But if you could put a little flesh on that skeleton...
W. KANE: [Laughs.] Yeah.
WILSON: ...I'd appreciate it.
W. KANE: We stayed on...after the Communists came, we stayed on because we figured that maybe things would settle down and we would be able to continue working, if not out in the country, with the church. But we found that our presence [pauses] there became a source of embarrassment to the church because the Communists really believed that the missionaries were in some way representing or there for the benefit of our government. That we were [clears throat] connected in some way with the State Department and perhaps trying to get messages home, though what kind of messages we could get home that would harm them I don't know. But they really felt that we...the missionaries were spies. And so, instead of telling us to get out they told the Chinese churches that they were quite willing to give them religious liberty. And of course it was in the...it was in the constitution. And of course after we left they didn't get the religious liberty that they were promised. But they were quite willing to give them religious liberty, if they would get rid of the foreigners.
W. KANE: And so, you know, we became an embarrassment to them. Because of us they were being treated in a way that perhaps they wouldn't be treated if we were not there.
W. KANE: And the longer we stayed, the more they suffered this...this kind of treatment.
WILSON: At that time did you and your husband hold out any hope that, if you left, things would improve for them? Or did you consider it a sham from the start?
W. KANE: Well, we hoped, and it would be easier for them from this point of view, that they would not have the...the foreigners there to explain. They wouldn't have to explain our presence there to the Communists, since the Communists figured that we were spies anyway. No matter what the church thought about us, they thought we were spies. And so even though they didn't get the religious liberty that they were promised, they probably had...they probably found it easier to communicate with the Communists, as they were required to do from time to time when we were gone.
W. KANE: They just didn't have us there to explain and to explain away, so to speak. Um-hmm.
WILSON: Since your return to America, have you been able to catch wind, from time to time, of how your friends in China are doing?
W. KANE: We've never had a word from them. Of course, when we first came home, it was impossible to...to send mail to Communist China. And then later on when it became possible to send [pauses] mail to China, we didn't want to because we didn't want to endanger anybody who might receive a letter from us. And then, of course, after a time, who knows whether they're still there, whether they've moved out, what the church is...the condition of the church is. That's why we would like to go back to China, if the Communists would permit us to...to go where we wanted to go.
WILSON: Could you get to Anhwei now, if you went?
W. KANE: I don't know. I don't believe so. You see, when you go to China you go as a tourist. And they have these tours and they take...they have several different tours. One that goes to west China, I think. One you can go to...to Chandu and those cities out there, but you are part of the group and you stay with the group.
WILSON: Yo...you don't get off the path.
W. KANE: Hm-hmm. And I have never heard of a tour that...that goes through anywhere near Fowyang and Anhwei, because it was a rural area. There was nothing there of much importance and...
WILSON: No tourist attractions.
W. KANE: No, no tourist attractions. No, nothing like the Great Wall, or anything of that sort. And so I have never heard of a group that went anywhere near our...our city. If...if there were such a group and we...and there were any likelihood that we could get back to Fowyang, we would like to go just to see what has happened there, what things are different, and if the church is still there or not. Actually, [clears throat] not to long ago, about six months ago, we had a letter from Mabel Williamson, who was in Taihu. And she had had...she had had a letter from a woma...the son of a woman who used to...she used to know in Taihu. And she was back in the Fowyang area. And George [McDonald] Steed (who was in...who was in Hong Kong in...working there with one of the...one of the organizations), he had...a...a...a visit from this woman's son. And he brought a letter out from his mother, and she said that there were many house churches in the Fowyang area. But she didn't say anything about the...the Fowyang church itself, or the Taihu church, or the other churches in the area. But she did say there were a lot of house churches in the north Anhwei area, especially around Fowyang, which was good for us to hear.
WILSON: Surely. And that's basically the only word you've received in thirty years, isn't it?
W. KANE: Um-hmm. That's true. Yeah, we've never had any...any contact with them at all.
WILSON: Is it difficult to...to simply surrender all of your investment in China to God's care. I...I...I'm stacking the deck the way I asked the question, [Kane chuckles] but....
W. KANE: [Pauses.] It wa...it was difficult to leave. It...I...we found it more difficult to leave China, I guess, than we found it to [bumps microphone] leave home.
WILSON: To come to China?
W. KANE: In the first place, because we were coming to a service. You see, this was the...this was what the Lord had called us to do. And this was wha...something that we had been looking forward to for several years. And so, when we left home, it was...it was sort of a realization of our dreams and plans. But when we left, of course, it was those dreams sort of falling around our ears, in one sense. But in another sense we felt that we could leave it in the Lord's hands and He would take care of it. And He was bringing us home probably because he had something for us to do at home. And [pauses] so, in a sen...it was difficult. It was hard to leave our friends and it was difficult to leave the work. But we felt the Lord would have it in His hands and He would take care of it. And all through those...most of those thirty years, of course, we felt that [chuckles] all of the mission work had gone down the t...down the drain again.
W. KANE: And then we began to hear these reports about the house churches, and they were so [pauses] optimistic that we just figured that somebody was stringing us a line. But then when, you know, when...when we became....when China became more open, and these reports were coming out about the house churches, it was really unbelievable. And, you know, they say there are probably many, many more Christians in China today than there were when the missionaries were there...well, when the missionaries left. Because of these house churches that have...have not only [chuckles] continued but that have multiplied and that are...that are found, I guess, all over China. It's not just in one area, the ea...the coastal area or the...the west but throughout China, apparently. These house churches have...have been carrying on.
WILSON: Um-hmm. Would it be unfair to sa...or...though, to say that...that this may have been God's way of building up the Chinese church, to put it in...in subjection? Is that a viable thing to say?
W. KANE: It must have been God's plan [laughs].
WILSON: [Laughs.] Well, yes, I...
W. KANE: [Laughs.] It wouldn't have got...
WILSON: ...we'll start there, but....
W. KANE: [Laughs.] I think...I think the [pauses]...He just [pauses] took the missionaries out of the way so the [sound of door closing?] Chinese Christians perhaps would...would recognize their responsibility and would...would carry on. Um-hmm.
WILSON: We are unfortunately out of time.
W. KANE: Out of time. Well, so....
WILSON: You have a lunch date.
W. KANE: Right [laughs].
WILSON: Well, I thank you very much...
W. KANE: Well, you're very welcome.
WILSON: ...for your willingness to come and do this.
W. KANE: Well,... [tape cuts off].
END OF TAPE