This is a complete and accurate transcript of the third oral history interview of Dr. James Herbert Kane (Collection 182, #T3) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. This is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Placenames in non-Western alphabets are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, Peking is used instead of Beijing if that is how the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which could be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliterated form which corresponds to it. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal h esitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The interviewer would interject "Um-hmm" or "Un-huh" occasionally, but these were not transcribed unless they came at a definite break in the conversation. The transcribers have not attempleted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was attempting to say.
... 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 Edgar Diaz and was completed in February 1992.
Collection 182, #T3. Interview of James Herbert Kane by Craig Alexander, 1987.
ALEXANDER: ...view conducted with Dr. J. Herbert Kane on the campus of Wheaton College on September 11, 1987. The interview will consist primarily of discussions about Dr. Kane's experiences in China with the China Inland Mission during the period of 1940 to 1950. [Break in tape.] [Both laugh, one clears throat.] The first question I had was, basically, and just in general, what CIM's policy or strategy was for the work in China?
KANE: During that period?
KANE: 1940 to 1952?
KANE: I don't know as early as 1940.... 1942, you see, was still the Sino-Japanese War. And we stayed on through that war. And all the missionaries that were in occupied terri...territory when Pearl Harbor broke out, they all went into concentration camps. The rest of us saw to it that we kept one jump ahead of the advancing Japanese army. In our case in north Anhui [Province], we got every...every city north, east, south, and west, fell. Ours didn't fall. So we got surrounded. I ended up by being [in] a pocket of free China behind the Japanese line. And that had its problems. The policy of the mission was, "Do not engage in politics one way or the other. We're not there to...we're guests, we're neutral, and we don't take sides. Get on with the work of preaching the Gospel and building up the Church." So we were supposed to be apolitical. Secondly, we were...we were...we were gonna stay. Through good times and bad, we were gonna stay. The mission had been though a [chuckles]...China [chuckles]...every...every decade, we had a major upheaval in China. A major upheaval. I think it was 1893 when they had the Kucheng Massacre . Every missionary in the city of Kucheng was massacred. [In] 1900 we had the Boxer year. Our mission lost eighty....was it eighty-nine or seventy-nine missionaries and they [were]...ki...co...killed in cold blood in one year. We never stopped. It never entered our minds that we'd call it quits. It was...the storm blew over, missionaries went back, picked up the pieces, put them together, and carried on our business as usual. [In] 1911 we had the revolution. The missionaries were always the exposed ones, you see. So if there is any anti-American, anti-foreign feeling, it wasn't expressed against the gunboats on the Yangtze River [new name, Jinsha Jiang] or the...or the soldiers in Shanghai. Always against the unprotected missionaries upcountry. They bore the brunt. [In] 1927 the Reds came and set up their government in...in...in Hankow. And then in 1935...1937, the Sino-Jap...Japanese War broke out. That lasted for eight years. So the mission had a...had a history of...of being exposed to danger of all kind. Our...our...our missionaries were kidnapped, held for ransom, we didn't pay ransom, some of them were killed. You know, that was...that was par for the course as far as we were concerned. We were the most exposed mission in China because we were up-country. Most of the other big missions were fairly close to the coast and in the bigger cities. We were all over...we were in fifteen of the eighteen provinces of China. But our policy was to stay no matter what happened. [Pauses.] Then when the Sino-Japanese War was over, my, we all sang the doxology. We say, "We're going back to China to start and build again the things that were destroyed. Four hundred missionaries traveled on the Marine Links [?] from San Francisco to Shanghai. I don't think ever in history there were four hundred missionaries on one ship heading for one country.
ALEXANDER: When was that?
KANE: That was in the fall of 1946, I think.
ALEXANDER: These were new missionaries going to the field?
KANE: Oh, no. Well, there were a few...no most of them were returning missionaries. See, they couldn't get into China during the war. They couldn't get out so there was a big bottle neck there and a big bottle neck here and the missionaries there wanted to come home on furlough. The ones who got stranded on furlough, they were...could hardly wait to get back to China. Four hundred missionaries sailing on one ship. Twenty men in this cabin, twenty women in that cabin, [laughs] like...like cattle. Just to get back to Shanghai.
ALEXANDER: What was the expectation at that point now that the war was over?
KANE: Oh, we went back with [pauses] high hopes and great expectations. The war is over, the devastation is over. It's gonna be peace, and the peace will lead to prosperity. And Chiang Kai-Shek has won the war, and they're moving in the right direction, and democracy will be gradually introduced. We really went back with high hopes.
ALEXANDER: Was...at that point, had the Nationalists been the strongest force in the country?
KANE: Chiang Kai-Shek was the...oh, the first man in modern times who really unified the country. But he unified...unified it with, you know, qualifications. There were some so-called warlords that paid lip service, acknowledged his overall command in...in...in Nanking. But there was a Yin Shi-Shan [?] up in Shanxi [Province]. He was...he was sort of warlord. And there was...there were warlords in...in Sichuan [Province] and they had.... These warlords were part of the national army, but the army was really their army and, if they didn't want to take orders from Nanking, they didn't take orders from Nanking. They...they collected their own taxes and had almost little governments of their own. It...he unified it, but it was a...it was a superficial kind of unification. He left [it] to the Communists to really unify the country.
ALEXANDER: As time progressed, and the missionaries returned to China, how did things go from there? The work returned to normal, and...?
KANE: [Clears throat.] No. We went back in the fall of '46. And we were not in our city of Fuyang [pauses] six months before it fell to the Communists.
ALEXANDER: That was in the northern part?
KANE: Northern part of Anhui.
ALEXANDER: That they were moving from...
KANE: They were coming from the north to the south. And they were gradually.... You see, they had taken mo...most of.... During the Sino-Japanese War, their headquarters was...wer...was in Yan'an, up in Shan...in Shanxi. That was their headquarters. Then they...at the end of s...at the end of the Japanese War, the Communists had nineteen soviets all over north China. A soviet is a...is a piece of territory where they're in control. They issue their own...their postage stamps, they have their own armies, and they have their own taxes, and everything. Nineteen soviets in which they controlled one hundred million people. During the Sino-Japanese War, the Communists used about ten per cent of their man power and fire power to fight the Japanese, twenty per cent to fight the Kuo min-tang, the Nationalists, and seventy per cent they used to consolidate their hold on China.
ALEXANDER: So they....they were carrying on a war on two fronts, trying to...?
KANE: Yeah. They...they...they were supposed to be fighting the Japanese, but it was a very half-hearted attempt. No. They were building their...they were building their cons...they were consolidating their hold. And it is my theory that if they hadn't had that eight years of Sino-Japanese War, they probably would not be in power today.
ALEXANDER: What happened when they took Fuyang?
KANE: They took it the first time they came, and they took it and stayed only for twenty-four hours. And they demolished all the government installations, buildings, everything, and invited the poor people to come in and say, "Look, you're liberated. You've been poor, you can take what you like." And the poor people went into all these government insta...installations, the Yaman [?], the post office, and stripped every place clean. They took the...the window sashes out, they took the door, anything that was burnable, wood. Took it home and made their breakfast with it the next morning. [Alexander chuckles.] [Pauses.] The Communists stayed that time only twenty-four hours, and then they left. It was the guerrilla type hit-and-run ty...warfare. Poor people didn't know that. Then when the Nationalists came back two days later and discovered that the poor people had stolen their desks, their chairs, and everything, then they went after the poor people to punish the poor people. One of the few times I intervened [paper rustling] in politics, I went to the mayor with the pastor and I said, "Look, this is the very worst thing you can do. You'll be playing into the hands of the Communists if you punish the poor people."
ALEXANDER: Did they listen to you?
KANE: They listened to me and they didn't punish the poor people. But that was a...that was an act of folly to punish the poor people. [Claps hands?] So they stayed for twenty-four hours. Six...five months later they came back and stayed for the best part of a week. And that time they went after the rich people. And they cleaned them out. And...opened the door to a...a wealthy person's home and had the...the poor people, the riff-raff, say, "Here...here is your opportunity. Everything is yours. Go in and take what you want." [Chuckles.] They stripped them clean, stripped clean. [Claps hands?]
ALEXANDER: What did they do with the rich people? Did they imprison them? Or what?
KANE: No, not at that time. They just reduced them to penury, in this rather painless fashion. [Chuckles.] And then they went after...they went after anybody who had political connections. We had...we had jah-jongs [?] (that's a political commissar, or a cadre over ten families. And then over the ten jah-jongs [?], we had a bou-jong [?], and any jah-jong [?] that didn't get out or bou-jongs [?] that didn't get out of the city, he was...he was in trouble. One of our church members was a...was a...was a jah-jong [?]. And he came and, you know, and we tried to give him some kind of protection during that period. So they went after the rich people and they went after anybody with...who had been in the employ of the Nationalist government.
ALEXANDER: Did they go after the mission work?
KANE: No, they...they didn't.... Well, they came in and spent two hours with me in my study and we went at it hammer [laughs]...hammer and tongs. I wish [laughs]...I wish I had a...had a tape of that one.
ALEXANDER: Where did they...what was on their mind?
KANE: Oh, we...we talked about a lot of things, mostly war and...wha.... I said to them, "What...what are you...what's your aim anyway, in this war, this revolution of yours?" And they said, "Our....our aim is to Gar-liang-sha-wei [?] (which means to improve society)." I said, "Shake hands. That's what I'm in China for." [Both laugh.] They were not impressed. "You were in China [for this?]?" "Yeah." They said, "Ah, your method is too slow. You'll never get...you'll never get anywhere in your method. You've got to smash the system, the existing system. And get right down to the foundation, and then build on your own foundation. And in two years we're gonna have...get rid of the Kuo min-tang and Chiang Kai-Shek and then we're gonna build a new China. Your method [claps hands] is hopeless, it's useless."
ALEXANDER: [Pauses.] So, they didn't...they didn't...disrupt your work?
KANE: No, not that time. No, that was the only contact we had, a two hour...a two hour.... And the evangelist was sitting in the chair beside me. He was petrified. He thought I was saying too much. But then I said to them....they said, "You're gonna Gar-liang-sha-wei [?]." "Yeah." "How many people have you changed?" Good question, you know. I said, "Not too many. But the people that we have changed through Christianity have had a change of heart. And now they are good, law abiding citizens. And they're producers and not consumers. And they are not parasites on the body politic." I said [clears throat].... They said, "That's too slow." And I said, "Well, don't forget I am a foreigner. I'm a guest in your country. You don't expect me as a foreigner to come with a gun over my shoulder and join in your revolution, do you?" And he sort of smiled and said, "Well, no, really we don't [laughs] expect that." I said, "As long as you...you think your method is better than mine.... It's quicker than mine, but it's not as effective as mine. Mine is much slower, I know that. But it will last longer. You hold a pistol to a man's temple, and he'll do anything you want him to do as long as you keep the pistol there. Tell him to kneel, he'll kneel. You tell him to stand, he'll stand. You tell him to dance, he'll dance. Remove the pistol and he won't kneel and he won't dance. [Alexander chuckles.] I don't have any pistol, so I don't have...I'm not...I'm not converting, I'm not changing as many people as you're changing, but the people changed by my method are changed on the inside. And the change continues. It's not by coercion." I said, "Your system is...it looks good now, but it is not going to last forever."
ALEXANDER: Did that impress him at all?
KANE: Impress Communists? [Both laugh.] Nothing impresses the Communists. No, they weren't impressed. But at least I got it off my chest.
ALEXANDER: During this time, were you...were you able to go out to the outstations to see... [unclear]?
KANE: Not...that...that six-day period? No, the people in the city...businesses closed down. They...the...the...the...they didn't even bother to take down their wooden shutters. You know, in our part of China we don't have woo...glass windows, you have wooden shutters, big wooden shutters. You take them down in the morning and put them up during the night. They didn't even bother to take them down.
ALEXANDER: What about during this period in general. Could you have freedom of movement to go in the out...in the countryside?
KANE: N...no. During that six-day period? No. We stayed in the city and we didn't...we didn't go out on the street unless it was necessary. You keep out of mischief. And then at night they would go down the main street with...followed by a...a raft of poor people. And they would go into these shops and say, "Okay, help yourself." They robbed all the shop keepers. One of our men, elderly man, he had a...a shoe shop. He came to see me the next day and he didn't possess a thing in the world. They took everything. They took the shoes, they took mats, they took chairs, they took furniture. They went into his home at the back of his.... All the Chinese live in the back of their shops. They took everything. Kids were sleeping in the bed. They pulled the bed clothes from under them and took the bed clothes and left the kids sleeping on the...on the ma...on the...on the bed.
ALEXANDER: So that is kind of different than the idea of taking from the rich? Now they were taking from....
KANE: Tak...well, they took...anybody who owned a shop was rich, you see.
ALEXANDER: Oh. Did they withdraw at this time again?
KANE: They left after six days.
ALEXANDER: And then what happened as far as the work is concerned?
KANE: Then the Nati....the Nationalists never...never defended the city. Our city fell three times, and the Nationalists never fired a shot to defend the city. That's what people don't know. They just...
ALEXANDER: What happened? Did they just leave?
KANE: They left. They fled.
ALEXANDER: So they weren't as fierce a fighter...
KANE: Oh, they did...they didn't fight at all. Had they fought [pauses]....
ALEXANDER: Did they think it was a lost cause? Why weren't they...?
KANE: Lost cause. We gave...we gave Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuo min-tang everything. We gave them airplanes. We gave them gunboats. We gave them artillery. We gave them trucks. We gave them ammunition. We gave them two billion dollars worth of credit, which in that time was a lot of money. We gave them everything but the will [noise]...will to fight. We couldn't impart that. And we lost.
ALEXANDER: When...when the Communists withdrew after six days and during this period of '46-'47, did your work go on unimpeded?
KANE: Oh, yeah. As soon as they cleared out, we...we resumed our work and.... A certain element of danger. And we'd bump into them from time to time in the..in the rather rural country where they weren't supposed to be or we weren't supposed to be, you know [laughs]. You tried to avoid them. But we had...we had Nationalist troops, we had Communist troops, we had Kwai-bing [?] (people who used to belong to the Nationalists and they'd gone over to the Communists). And then we had...oh, we had...we had bandits. We had...it....we were sort of a no-man's land, see. Once we were surrounded by the Japanese and our city was...was free, then between us and the Japanese it was...it was lawn-don [?] as we say in China. It was just confusion.
ALEXANDER: So you tried.... I guess the strategy was to keep the work going and work around...?
KANE: We did as much as we could as long as we could. Stayed as long as we could.
ALEXANDER: How did...how did things progress then as '46, '47, '48...?
KANE: Well, then they came and they took the city for the third time and they set up their government with the intention of staying. And then they behaved themselves a little better. In the hit-and-run guerrilla type of warfare, they could do what they liked. But if they come in and purport to be the government, they've got to behave themselves. So....and that....any government is better than anarchy. Any government is better than anarchy. And so, from that point of view, the...the people were a little bit relieved. "Well, at least we have a government that is going to stay." Changing over from back to front, you know, the Communists one day and the...and the Nationalist[s] the next day, that was worse than the Sino-Japanese War. [During the] Sino-Japanese War, the missionaries, especially, every one of them [clears throat] was on the side of China against Japan. No problem. Communists, that's a civil war. And a civil war wages back and forth, and you have the Nationalists in the city today and you have the Communists in the city tomorrow. You dare not take sides.
ALEXANDER: What did the...what did the CIM....what was the CIM policy during this time? Were they sticking to their guns? Were they thinking that, "Boy, our days are limited in this environment"?
KANE: The...the word went out, put out by the General Director [Bishop Frank Houghton] and with the consent of the...of the council in Shanghai [pauses] [claps hands], "We are going to stay." [Pauses.] That wasn't...that didn't mean that we were particularly courageous or virtuous. We really had no choice. We had no choice. Every other mission operating in China had fields outside of China, ten, twenty, thirty. We had all our eggs in the one basket. There was no way we could leave.
ALEXANDER: Were other missions already leaving China?
KANE: Oh, yeah. Some of them left be...be...after the Japanese war. Some of them left during that period of the civil war, five years, from '45 to '50. Others cleared out when the...when they saw that...that the end was coming and the Communists would... would finally win the war. They knew that the chances of being able to do business with them, you know, were...were nil. But we didn't have any choice. We had everything in China. And outside of China we didn't own a vacant lot or a stick of furniture. There was nowhere we could go. So we...we stayed. Part of the reason....Bishop Houghton, who was our...Frank Houghton who was our...our General Director, he...he refused to believe that God would allow a good, godly, born-again man like Chiang Kai-Shek to go down to defeat at the hands of a man like Mao Tse-tung. He could not believe that. So he said, "We're staying." Communists were not go.... He said, "The Communists are not going to cross the Yangtze River." Well, he was wrong.
ALEXANDER: Did...did anyone from headquarter's staff...did the Bishop or anyone come out in the field very often and know what was going on and the conditions out there?
KANE: [Pauses.] No. Part of that time, he...he had about.... All his life he suffered from insomnia. And then when these troubles, you know, ganged up on him, he had a three-month period when his insomnia was really devastating. And he left Shanghai and went to Australia to rest. And Sinton, John Sinton was the Deputy General Director and he was General Director towards the end when we finally had to pull out. But the policy was, "We stay." The policy was, "You don't mention in your letters, don't mention anything about the civil war. We're not here to take sides. Stay and do whatever work you can do."
ALEXANDER: What was the missionary feeling in the field toward that?
KANE: [Pauses.] It was mixed, depending on how old you were, [clears throat] depending on whether you were married, depending on whether you had children. We were married, we had children. Our children were in our school in Chefoo which was then moved to Kuling in central...central China. And [pauses] oh, that was our most vulnerable point, the children. For us to remain in China and even lose our lives was one thing. That was our choice. The children were not in China by their choice. They were in Kuling, we were.... Our city was liberated [sniffs] two months before their city was liberated, which means for two months we were on one side of the battle line, they were on the other side. We didn't hear from them, they didn't hear from us. That was hard. That was very, very hard.
ALEXANDER: Was that the Sino-Japanese War?
KANE: No. I'm talking now about the Communist one.
KANE: Sino-Japanese War, the kids were with us. They were...they were too young to go to school. And then when we...they finally got through, we had three hundred kids up there in Kuling. No way to get money from Shanghai. That was our chief concern. Are those kids getting meals, are they...are they getting fed? What's...what's being.... 'Cause once the Communists took over, for two months business was as...was absolutely dead. Nobody bought and nobody sold. Business...the bottom dropped out of business. Well, we had no currency. The old currency blew away down the street with the wind.
ALEXANDER: They wouldn't take American currency?
KANE: Oh, no, they wouldn't take it. So here were three hundred kids. They go through a lot of food, you know. That was our chief concern. And there was no way to get money up from Shanghai.
ALEXANDER: Did you ever fear either for your lives or their lives during this time?
KANE: [Clears throat.] We did. [Clears throat.] Turning point came when the Korean War broke out. The Korean War broke out on June 23, 1950. That was the...that was the.... You know, up to that point we were in China and we were faring pretty well. But when the Korean War broke out, then we had every reason to believe that China would join that war. And if China joined that war, we would automatic...and declared war against the United States, we would automatic[ally] go into their concentration camps.
ALEXANDER: Even though you are Canadian? Would that have made a difference?
KANE: I don't think it would have made any difference, be.... It didn't make any difference in World War II with the Japanese. It might have made some difference, but I don't think so. They treated us as Americans. In fact, when I told them that I was a Canadian, they refused to believe me. They said, "You're not a Canadian, you're an American." So, [chuckles] what can you do. But that wa...that scared the daylights out of us. It really did. 'Cause we...we drove...we drove right up the Yalu River, you remember, under MacArthur [Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964], and China said, "Look, if you drive up the Yalu River, that's too provocative. It means war. We're going to move in." We thought they were bluffing. They were not bluffing. We drove up the Yalu River. We thought we had finished the war in Korea. They threw about two hundred thousand men across that Yalu River in one night and they had more...more men than we had bullets. We ran out of bullets before they ran out of men. And then from then on we...we were just beaten back. Like back to Heart Break Ridge and Bloody Ridge, right back to the 30th parallel. We were on the ship leaving China, coming down the coast from Tientsen [now spelled Tianjin] to Hong Kong when that...we had that major defeat in the Yalu River and our men were...were falling back.
ALEXANDER: I was wondering, had you...was your family still in China or had you made the decision to leave by then or...or what?
KANE: Well, no. We made...we made our decision to leave in the summer of 1950...1950.
ALEXANDER: After the Korean conflict started?
KANE: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
ALEXANDER: Was that the major reason?
KANE: Yeah. Well, that was a contributing factor. The major reason was two-fold. One, our work had come to an end, which was true of most missionaries in China. You're virtually immobilized. Two, the situa...we...the situation had...had deteriorated to the point where the Communists believed, really believed, that every missionary was either a spy or a potential spy. They really believed this. They couldn't believe that we were in China for...for...for the good of the Chinese. They didn't accuse us of being in cahoots with the CIA because there was no CIA, but there was the State Department. And they really believed...they refused to believe that we were sent by the Church. They believed that we were, you know, in some kind of connection with the government, sending reports back to the government.
ALEXANDER: Though you'd been there for a hundred years almost, they still distrusted that?
KANE: Oh, yeah, sure. And they knew...sixty per cent of the missionaries were American. America was...was aiding Chiang Kai-Shek and fighting the Communists. Far as the Communists' were concerned, enemy number one was not Chiang Kai-Shek. Enemy number one was...was Uncle Sam.
ALEXANDER: I was wondering where the Western countries were when this civil war was going on? Were they involved? Were they...
KANE: Just...just...just America. We supplied...we supported Chiang Kai-Shek up to the hilt with everything. And...and the Communists knew that. Communists have no reason to...to love the Americans and sixty per cent of the Amer...the missionaries were American. We were right, you know, on the griddle.
ALEXANDER: You said the wo...the work was basically immobilized. When did the headquarters in Shanghai realize that?
KANE: Well, they were getting...they were getting reports in. As one city after another fell, they got reports in from the missionaries and they knew...they knew what was happening. They had made their decision. "We stay. Good or bad, we stay. We will not leave." So when I was... I was in evangelistic work. I had two evangelists with me and we travelled around the country. We took our own generator, we went to the universities, and we had big meetings. All of that stopped overnight. They didn't say, "You may not preach." They said, "You may not travel." To me it meant the same thing. Okay. Then I said, "Well, I'll work in the local church in Wuhu." Then the local church leaders got the wind up and said, "Look, you know, they think you're a spy, and we think you had better, you know, lay low. And just don't...don't come to church." Well, you know, I didn't mind facing danger. We faced danger under the...in the Sino-Japanese War. And my wife and I were separated during that war for...on three different occasions for twenty-two months. And we did that voluntarily. And each time, she was on one side of the battle line, I was on the other. We did that volun...we weren't afraid of danger. And we stayed for the good of the work. Stayed for the good of the work. There is no work. We were...we were sitting...we were singing [clears throat] "Standing on the Promises" all the time we were sitting on the premises, you know. [Both chuckle.] We didn't...we had no work to do. We had no work to do. So that last three months, I wrote what I hoped...a manuscripts that I hoped would be a book on the life of Christ. Twelve crises in the life of Christ. That's wha...that was my last work...my last three months in China.
ALEXANDER: Was that also the case with other...most other CIM missionaries, or...or when you got out west toward Tibet was the work still continuing?
KANE: It was spotty. It was spotty. Most of the work was curtailed. Travel...we weren't permitted to leave the city. Cannot leave the city. Okay, that means that you cannot do any...any country work. Within the city, the church said, "You know, we think by your presence here you're really embarrassing us."
ALEXANDER: They were under pressure from the Communists?
KANE: Oh, yeah, sure.
KANE: Yup. And if it got...it got to the point where if we visited any of them in their home, you know, then Communists would go and say, "Now, okay, who is...who is this guy? What did he come for? What did he say? Why did he stay so long? Why hasn't he gone home?" And they would ask all kinds of questions, trying to get information about us out of our...our friends. And that was really embarrassing.
ALEXANDER: Meanwhile they...the church leaders had signed the Manifesto, so now...
KANE: Yeah, they had signed that Ma...well, they had signed that under duress, you know that. That didn't worry us. We knew they had signed that. That was Chou En-lai's [1898-1976] idea in that it was organized or orchestrated by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, with Wu Au Tzung [?]. He was the chairman then.
ALEXANDER: So the field missionaries were realizing what was going on and they kind of came to the realization before headquarters?
KANE: Yeah, the headquarters were to...were to some extent were isolated. They had to make the decision. The missionaries had to take orders from...from...from Shanghai. And if you left, then you...you virtually had to resign. Which I had...I did. I resigned.
ALEXANDER: Why? Was it basically because you either stayed or you resigned when you left? Was that...was that the reason you resigned?
KANE: My reason was that we were exposing, not so much ourselves, but our two children to the grave possibility of going to a concentration camp. They would be in one concentration camp, who knows where. We would be in the other concentration camp. We wouldn't know where they were. They...they wouldn't know where we were. Now we didn't mind facing that kind of danger...
[Tape interruption. Recorder turned off and on?]
KANE: ...risk, I thought this simply doesn't mean...make sense.
ALEXANDER: You saw the next step coming, that they would put you in concentration camps [unclear] ?
KANE: That's what we feared. It didn't come to pass because the...the Sino...the...the war in Korea reached a stalemate and Eisenhower finally got a truce.
ALEXANDER: And by that time, work...CIM had pulled out almost....
KANE: Well, yeah. The CIM changed it's mind two months after we retired...we...we resigned. Two months. They were just...it took them two months to catch up with me, that's all.
ALEXANDER: There wasn't any hard feelings with the CIM?
KANE: Oh, no, no, no. And what was their reason for pulling out? Financial.
ALEXANDER: It wasn't the...it wasn't political or.... They just couldn't get money into the country?
KANE: Um-hum. You see, in the middle of December (I don't know the exact date but you could get it in any of the history books), suddenly over night the American government decided to freeze all Chinese assets in our banks. The next day China did the same with American assets in their banks. Every...every dime that we had in the banks in China were not available.
ALEXANDER: This was...this was due to the Korean conflict? They were kind of sparring back and forth?
KANE: Yeah, sure. We were trying to hur...hurt them and they said, "Okay, tit for tat." Okay now, we had...we had...we had nine hundred missionaries. Now they run out of money in no time at all. And they run out of a lot of money. That was the turning point as far as the mission was concerned. The mission said, "There is no way [clears throat]...if we can't get money from home, there is no way we can support these nine hundred missionaries. We have no choice. We have got to withdraw."
ALEXANDER: It is interesting that the financial aspect was ahead of the spiritual one. Why do you think that was?
KANE: Yeah. Well, you can say, "Well, CIM with its, you know, one-hundred-year history of trusting the Lord." Well that's okay but, you know, with...how can you...how can you possibly support nine hundred missionaries without any funds coming in from the West?
ALEXANDER: Maybe you can tell me with...how is CIM...is it a very structured organization? And you have a General Director that's in China and then the missionaries basically rep...report through superintendents up to...up to the General Director?
KANE: Yeah. We had...well, the General Director [clears throat]...it was General Directorship. He could veto anything sent by anybody. He had...he had a council. Headquarters were always on the field. It's still on the field in Singapore. That makes...that makes CIM unique. There's no other mission that has its headquarters...and that was a good, good feature. He was the General Director [clears throat] and he had his...he had his China council [clears throat] made up of...of veteran missionaries who knew China, and their part of China, like the back part of their hand. That was very good. But if need be he could override his own council if he wanted. He never did, except, you know, well, towards the end, the...Bishop Houghton, he, I guess.... I don't know whether the other men would have pulled out before he did, but you know, when that happened they..they decided to pull out. Okay. Then their mission...they...they...they arranged then for the evacuation of all their missionaries.
ALEXANDER: There was some disagreement between the council and the General Director?
KANE: I don't know. I don't know that. I would think that....I don't know. I...I wasn't in...in on that. All I know is that some missionaries, especially those with children, you know, "We'll stay and face any kind of danger if we can carry on our work. If we can't carry on our work is one thing. If our continued presence is an embarrassment to the very people we are here to help, that's number two." Those were the two big considerations with us. So we thought, "There is no hope. Co...nobody is gonna...nobody is gonna upset the Communists. There's no use to stay around here for the next five to ten years. And expose our children, particularly, to this awful possibility." Now whether this was lack of faith on our part or a lack of courage, I.... I think we had all the re...requisite courage in the Sino-Japanese War. We never ran. We never fled. We stayed. Got surrounded by the Japanese. We knew we were surrounded by the Japanese. And we carried on, because we could carry on our work. But to stay and expose our kids to this kind of possibility when we couldn't do our work and our very presence was an embarrassment to the Chinese, [clears throat] we really thought that the time had come when the mission ought to change its policy. Wouldn't change its policy. So we...we resigned.
ALEXANDER: Did many missionaries go that route, or did most stay?
KANE: No, not too many did. There were some who were getting ready to do it. But there was only two months between our resignation.... Had we, of course, not jumped the gun, had we stayed for the two months, we would have...we would have come out and they would have paid our way. We had to pay our own way.
ALEXANDER: Was that because you...?
KANE: [Unclear] We resigned.
ALEXANDER: Did the mission think it would...it would get back in at some point?...[unclear]
KANE: Excuse me?
ALEXANDER: But did the mission itself think, "Well we'll be able...we'll return at some point"?
KANE: The mission got...their last 1949 candidates they sent to Shanghai. I...I thought that was an act of folly.
ALEXANDER: That late date?
KANE: That late date. That's an act of folly. [In] 1948 I was in China. [In] 1948 Shanghai had fallen. So they...they...they took them in and flew them to Chungking [now spelled Chongqing], away out in west China. Now that was an act of double folly.
ALEXANDER: Did they represent the fact that they still thought they could get in there?
KANE: That was...that was....I assume [pauses] to them it was a...a matter of commitment. "We're here. We've decided to stay. We'll not only stay, we'll bring new missionaries out." I thought that was an act of f...consummate folly. They said, "We've got...we've lived by faith for a hundred years. We've still got to live by faith. We'll take it. And we're gonna bring out...." They brought out that last contingent in 1949.
ALEXANDER: That reflects the idea that "we'd like to keep the work going as long as we can." And that means every aspect, new missionaries...
KANE: New missionaries. Yeah, if...if you wanted the...the old veteran missionaries to stay and stick it out, and weather the storm, I can understand that. Bring out brand new recruits, fifty or sixty of them....
ALEXANDER: Did they make it to the field or did they basically stay in the language school?
KANE: They never got out. They just got...they went into Chungking and got out of Chungking. The ones in Shanghai never got out of Shanghai.
ALEXANDER: Did you...? Well, at that time, they didn't know they were going to continue that work in Southeast Asia once they left?
ALEXANDER: Did you at any point think about going back with OMF as their works expanded into Southeast Asia?
KANE: No. [Pauses] When we had...when we came out...when anybody came out in those days, we...the...the missionaries who came home (and ultimately they all came home), they had to fend for themselves. It was about two or three years before the mission got its act together and sent search teams into...I think the first place they went was Indonesia. They went to Japan, they went to Thailand, they went to Malaysia. The last place they went to was Taiwan. So they sent in the search teams, they laid out the land...they spied out the land, they came back and made a voluminous report for all of those ten...ten countries. And they went in to spy out the land and see whether there was any need. They said, "Up to this point, we've been the China Inland Mission for a hundred years. That's all we've been, China Inland Mission. God called us to China to work among the Chinese." Now, they...they...they...they...they gathered....did I tell you this before? They gathered in...in Australia, all the directors, home directors and everybody, and spent a week or two just praying, falling on their face, asking the Lord, "What shall we do? Where do we go from here? If Your purpose in raising up the China Inland Mission in 1865 has now been fulfilled, we have no desire to perpetuate our own existence." They were big enough to face up to that possibility. They prayed about it and they counselled together. They agonized. And while they were praying and agonizing, the Sudan Interior Mission got a check, I think for five thousand dollars, to start work in Asia...in Japan. The SIM wrote back to the...to the donors and said, "Look, we have no work in Japan. We don't intend to start in Japan. We're the Sudan Interior Mission." [Chuckles.] And the man said, "Well, use it for whatever you like." So the Sudan Interior Mission got in touch with these men, you know, in Australia while they were looking to the Lord for guidance. "We can't use this check. We'll give it to you if you want to start work in Japan. So they took that as the Lord's guidance. "Not finished with this...with the CIM. We still...I still have work for you to do." So the idea was, "Okay, then we'll work with the Chinese in Southeast Asia, which there are millions." And that was the way we got back into...into that part of the world.
ALEXANDER: There was a time gap there...
KANE: Oh, yeah. There was time gap of two or three years.
ALEXANDER: So during that time, then, you and your family were reaching [?] and...
KANE: We had to come back and fend for ourselves and...and the other missions...I think there were [pauses].... The missionaries that didn't resign, I think even they were on their own for a long time. Or on a...on a...on a...on a su...shoe string support system, until they got back on track and began to send missionaries back into these other countries. There was a hiatus there of about two to three years.
ALEXANDER: Was...? A couple of general questions as we come through. Was CIM the last missionary organization to leave China? Had everyone else pulled out?
KANE: Official...well, officially they all pulled out at the same time. We weren't the only mission that stayed. Other missions stayed. But when the bank...everything went frozen in the bank, every mission...all the executives in Shanghai sent telegrams all over China, "Get ready to leave." How can you stay without money? There is no way to stay. So we said, "Okay, maybe this is the Lord's way of telling us that our work in China is finished."
ALEXANDER: Were the conditions under the Communists as they worsened...were they worse than the Japanese conditions in those occupied areas?
KANE: Oh, yeah. When in...in...in...in Jap...Japa...well, Japanese occupied territory the missionaries went into concentration banks. The Chinese Christians were able to carry on.
ALEXANDER: Hmm. Okay.
KANE: That was no problem. But when the Communists come, the Communists are...are against religion, you see.
ALEXANDER: They neutralized....
KANE: The Japanese were not against religion. But the Communists [were] against religion, you see.
ALEXANDER: Okay. So...so that the Communists didn't put you in camps, they just neutralized you so you couldn't operate.
KANE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, and they...they...they took...they took key men off one by one. We lost Pastor Chung [?]. They went into his house and hid opium in his pillow. And then a couple of nights later at midnight they knock on the door and they come in and they search his house and they...they end up in his bedroom and they produce this opium out of his pillow. That's the end...that's the end of Pastor Chung [?].
ALEXANDER: He...he...they took him to prison?
KANE: Yeah, he..."You follow...you come with us." We never heard from him again. No trial, no judge, no jury, no...nothing. We can only assume that he was taken out and executed.
ALEXANDER: During this time and in general during the work in China, was there...did the mission...various mission organizations work closely together? Did you work closely with other mission organizations?
KANE: In our part of China we were the only ones working there. We had nobody else to work with. We were the only mission in all of that part of China. Of course we had...we had the...we had what we call comity [a courteous agreement]...you know, comity arrangement. Presbyterians would be here, the Southern Baptists there, the China Inland Mission here. We had...we had border regions where we overlapped. But all of north Anhui was China Inland Mission. In...a...off across the border in Hunan you had Lutherans. And...the...south...south and east of us you had the Pres...Southern Presbyterians. North of us in Borjo [?] you had the Baptists.
ALEXANDER: So some had made it inland, too.
KANE: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. They weren't as widespread in inland China as we were. We were completely in inland China. They had...they had worked in inland China, but not as much as.... We had all our eggs in the one basket way up in inland China.
ALEXANDER: What was the general Chinese impression of missionaries?
KANE: [Pauses.] Depends on the part of the country. In our part we had good rapport. Even the non-Christians..... Our...the church in our city had a good reputation, a good reputation. It was the biggest building in the town. Filled on Sat..Sunday morning, six hundred people. Every Sunday we had people who weren't Christians just come in and look around.
ALEXANDER: It was one of the biggest in China, I believe.
KANE: Yeah. Well, one of the biggest in the CI.... Probably the second largest in the...in the whole of the CIM. And a good reputation, good pastor, good board, good history, a hundred-and-fifty outstations north, east, south and west.
ALEXANDER: So the relations were generally pretty good with the people at large, even if they weren't Christian?
KANE: But out in Sichuan the...the atmosphere wasn't quite so good. South China not quite so good.
ALEXANDER: Is that mostly when you got in some Buddhist areas? Things were more or less hostile...more hostile?
KANE: Yeah, if the people were.... Out in Sichuan, the...the...the Buddhists burned incense nearly every morning. Not too many of our people burned incense nearly every morning, so they weren't that devout. And they were....the people in north China are more open, more honest, more candid. Farther south you get, the more inscrutable they are, the less sincere they are. They'd cross you up. People in north China are open and...and...and friendly and basically honest and decent. That's what we found.
ALEXANDER: What were some of the weaker or tougher areas for CIM in China? Was it out west toward Tibet? Was it in the south?
KANE: [Pauses.] Well, we were on the bo...borders of Mongolia and we were on the borders of Tibet. We ertr never able to put...we were never able to have missionaries live in Tibet. We had them live in Dogen...Dogenlu [now Dogen, Xizang Autonomous Region], which was the closest station to Tibet. And they went in and out of Tibet, but they never...they weren't permitted to live in Tibet. Those that worked among the Muslims, they...that's the hardest of all the fields, of course, and we had some up in Gansu [Province] that worked among the Muslims. Then we had...we had a fellow twenty-five years.... [James] Hunter was his name. He was an old bachelor and he was way up in Urumchi, way up in what we used to call Turkes...Chinese Turkestan, which is now the province of Xinyang [now Xinjiang Uygur]. Everybody up there was Muslim. That was the hardest field of all. He was there for twenty-five years without a...without a furlough.
ALEXANDER: [Chuckles.] Boy, what a labor.
KANE: And then finally in the '30's, we...we called for seven volunteers, single men, who would remain single for a whole term, seven years, and go up and help James Hunter up there. And they went...took them three months to reach Urumchi.
ALEXANDER: Boy, within China.
KANE: Way, way up in the heart of Asia.
ALEXANDER: During this time did the...did the...in the...in the time '46 to '50, was there a feeling that the Communists were winning, but "they're not going to be here for the next forty years? That regime won't last."
KANE: Feeling on whose part?
ALEXANDER: On the part of the people, or the missionaries, or CIM. What was...?
KANE: The Chinese military never took the Communists seriously. They wouldn't grace them with the name "army." They called...they called them Homfe [?]. Always referred to them as the Homfe [?], red bandits. I had military men tell me, "Nothing to worry. They'll never overrun China. We'll take care of them when the time comes." Oh, it was sad. It was very, very sad. The army simply didn't fight. They did not fight. They melted away.
ALEXANDER: What about the people? Did they...they think the Communists wouldn't last?
KANE: Oh, the...well, if you think of the people, the peasants.... Eighty per cent of the people in my day were peasants. They're still eighty per cent peasants. Very few of them could read or write. They didn't know beans. They weren't politically conscious at all. They couldn't care less who was in charge in...in Nanking. "All we want is peace and quiet with our fields and our families and have something in our bowl of rice twice a day." That's all they asked for.
ALEXANDER: What about the CIM? Did they think that, given China's long history and dynasties for the last hundreds of years, that this would not be [noise] this long-term?
KANE: I think...I think probably our leaders were of the impression, you know, that China would do with the Communists what they've done with every the other alien ideology. They swallow it up, and absorb it and regurgitate when through, you know. And they expected to do that and Communism is changing in China now. It's changing.
ALEXANDER: Has Communism been a...a real harm to the people, would you say, given their way of life and the immensity of the country? Has it hurt them? Has it really changed them? Changed the way of life?
KANE: There are two areas in which the Chinese [he means Communists] in China, and other parts of the world, do a fantastically good job, and therefore curry favor with the poor. Poorest of the poor have nothing to fear from the Communists. In fact, when the Communists come to power they're sitting pretty. The intellectuals and the wealthy, they are the people...they belong to the bourgeois class. If you belong to the bourgeois class, you're in for trouble. If you belong to the proletariat, you're okay. The two areas were education and medical service. You've heard of the barefoot doctors in China. They weren't doctors and they weren't barefoot, but they called them that. They gave a very intensive one year training program in what we would call...not...not Red Cross, but...well, anyway...
KANE: Yeah, that type of thing. And they sent them out all over China, so that practically every village had access to what we would call modern medicine: nurses, barefoot doctors. And they have absolutely eliminated smallpox from China. They inoculated every...every boy, every girl. They had the stuff and they had the power, and they inoculated everybody and there's...there's no...not a single case of smallpox in China today. So they gave them health care [noise in microphone] and the people liked that. And they gave them education.
ALEXANDER: Is the biggest...is the biggest group that would favor democracy in China, though, the intellectuals, the students? Are those the ones that the government really is really concerned about?
KANE: Now? Oh, yeah, sure. They...they're concerned about the intellectuals. The one...the intellectuals are always the ones they fear. They have no fear of the peasants at all. The peasants are not going to rise up.
ALEXANDER: Does that contradict the idea of education though? Give them education, but don't let them become intellectual?
KANE: Well, it all depends. If you give them only five or six [years of] elementary education [chuckles], they're not going to revolt. But if you give them high school or college education, then students are a very volatile group of people. The most volatile in any country. They've upset more than one government: in Korea, and in Turkey, and in China. Name the country in which the...the students haven't.... And even Japan, you know.
KANE: The students are cohesive, they're intellectual, they live in the same dorm, they've got leadership...
KANE: Yeah. There're only two groups in a...in a society that can...can...can get organized to that extent and offer the government some real opposition. One is the labor unions and the other is the students. [bumps microphone] There's not a third group.
ALEXANDER: From your experience as a missionary, just through a real turbulent time in China's history, what are some, I don't know...some lessons you think that can be derived for...that you've learned from the field...from your experience?
KANE: [Pauses.] Lessons, you...vis-a-vis missionary work?
ALEXANDER: Yes. If there is just any...yeah, vis-a-vis missionary work. And all the things you had to work through, the work itself, the political situation, evacuation. What are some lessons that could be derived, do you think?
KANE: [Pauses.] Well, we were confirmed in our policy that what we need to do is to establish indigenous churches, which was always our CIM policy anyway. So we didn't have to learn that. It was confirmed to us. [Pauses.] I don't know that we learned any particular lessons in China under the Communists that would do us much good in the other countries where the Communists are not living, or not in power. [Clears throat.] When we left...when we went into the new fields, we...we avoided the big cities like we did in China. In every case we went in, we contacted the...the missions that were there, their leadership and said, "Look, we've got all these missionaries. We'll...we'll come in and we'll help you only with your consent. If you think you don't need our help, we won't come in." The CIM has always been very irenic [conciliatory] and ecumenical in the good sense. They don't go in and say, "You happy guys, you know, we're coming if you want us or not." In every case we did that. And in every case we were made welcome and we went in.
ALEXANDER: Are there some personal, oh, lessons or guidance that you might have picked up as you...as you worked through whether to stay or whether to go, how to...the concerns of your family and that kind of thing?
KANE: That was an agonizing decision for my wife and me to make. An agonizing decision. And I don't really...I don't really, you know, lacerate my own conscience and say, "You didn't have the courage to stay." I think...because if we're...if lack of courage we wouldn't...we wouldn't have stayed through the Jap...Japanese War. We didn't have to stay. We stayed of our own accord. [Pauses.] Guidance...having to leave the mission was a traumatic experience...wasn't something that we chose. But we felt better afterwards when in two months they came to the conc...same conclusion that I came to, but for different reasons. And I'm not sure that their reason was any better than my reason. But I don't blame the mission. The mission couldn't afford to say to the missionaries, "Anybody that wants to leave can leave." There would have been a mass exodus. I mean, we've got hon...we got to be honest about that.
ALEXANDER: Well, you're...so you're saying that in the field the difference of opinion was so broad that they would have left...
KANE: Oh, it's my...it's my impression, yes.
ALEXANDER: By saying that you...if you left, you'd have to resign, that kept them on the field?
KANE: Oh, sure, there's no doubt about that. Now what the percentage is, I mean, don't [chuckles].... I didn't canvas anybody's opinion. I know how the people felt where...where we lived. The...the...there were a cou...a couple of people that left when we left, under the same conditions. The others didn't leave. One reason why we left...when we prayed about it and...I got a cable from the church at home saying, "If you really feel that your days in China are done, and the Lord...you've got the green light from the Lord to withdraw, we will...we will provide you with...we'll pay your way." Otherwise we couldn't have gone. We couldn't have left. The mission would not pay us. I said, "Would you...would you...we've been here four years, almost five years, out of a seven year term. Will you give us credit for that and pay half or three quarters of our travel?" They said, "We won't pay anything." Now had...had the church not sent that cable, we wouldn't have been able to leave.
ALEXANDER: Looking back on the whole situation and the way in which it was handled (and I'm not...believe me, I'm trying to learn from this experience) has...do you think it was handled well?
KANE: Under the circumstances, the...the men in Shanghai had no other choi...they had...they had no other options. If they had said, "Anybody who wants to leave can leave and we'll pay your way home," (this is just my hunch, I don't have statistics or I haven't made a canvas) there would have been...if you don't want to call it a max...mass exodus...ex...exodus, you would have had a...a significant exodus.
ALEXANDER: Do you think that was a wise policy, then? If they would know that and yet not act in accordance with maybe the way missionaries felt, do you think that was fair or wise?
KANE: They had no choice. They really had no choice. They had nowhere to go. Had we had fields elsewhere, we would have pulled our missionaries out. We had nowhere to go. What do you do? Let the mission fold?
ALEXANDER: It's a...a tough choice.
KANE: I don't blame those men in Shanghai. Had I been on the council, I probably would have said, "We have no other choice. This is the...what we do and this is the way we go."
ALEXANDER: When you'd gone through that experience and then you left the mission and then you turned to teaching, did you feel like that through...through that whole experience, you did...you'd learned quite a bit about...I'm kind of getting back to the guidance idea, but that you'd learned a lot about God's guidance, and that "we were in missions and God brought us through that transition as well as the whole mission itself." Did you feel like you...you learned a lot about guidance through that?
KANE: Well, when you're a member of a team you have two forms of guidance to come to terms with. You've got your individual guidance that you get from the Lord. And then you get another kind of guidance that comes from the Lord through the...though the...the mission, the council. You can't belong to a team and then proceed as though you didn't belong to the team. Two kinds of guidance. And for...and...and ideally these two forms of guidance should come together. And if they don't come together, then you've got to resign.
ALEXANDER: Looking forward, as you've progressed then on in life, you....
KANE: I believe now, looking forward now, I really believe that I did the right thing. I wasn't a hundred per cent sure at the time. I...I...it was a traumatic experience. We were there fif....we...our children were born there, CIM was our first love, we committed ourselves to China, we learned to read, write, and speak the Chinese language. All that's down the drain. We lost everything by now.
ALEXANDER: It...it's just a question once again of walking by faith? What you knew to be the course...
KANE: If we had not been come...if we had waited until the general evacuation two months later, I wouldn't be where I am today.
ALEXANDER: Were...were...you'd be still with CIM?
KANE: No. I don't know where I would be. I might be the pastor of some little church half way to nowhere. By coming home that...that two...two...two months earlier, that enabled me to get into the teaching profession, which I would not have done.
ALEXANDER: Because you might have gone into the pastorate and gone another route?
KANE: Well, I would have been too late to fill that position at Barrington College. It opened up, I came home, they said, "You've got the qualifications. Will you come join us?" And I said, "Yes."
ALEXANDER: Does that kind of reaffirm to you the providence of God and his timing?
KANE: Yes, yes. I think so. I think so. And I felt very good about that. And I felt....when it was all over, [pauses] and the...the mission was...was...when they decided to...to evacuate everybody, and...and pay their way, then they wrote to me and they said, "You know, we've...we've changed our...our policy, missionaries coming out, and we will reimburse you for anything you still owe on your travel."
KANE: Well, by that time, I had...I think I maybe still owed them...I don't know whether I...they finally gave me six hundred dollars out of two thousand or something. But anyway, they didn't hold it against me. I didn't hold it against them. And...and our...our...our rapport has been beautiful ever since.
END OF TAPE