This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of David Howard Adeney (CN 393, #T4) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. Nothing recorded has been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, so the word "[unclear]" was inserted. Chinese place names 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 would be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration form to which it corresponds. This is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part 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 by the transcriber.
Text Underlined text throughout the transcript identifies changes made in the transcript by Adeney. Underlined text in brackets [text] denotes a written addition made by Adeney to add clarity. When following unbracketed underlined text (text [text]), the text in brackets is intended to replace that which it follows. No subtractions have been made from the spoken record. See NOTE below.
This transcription was made by Katherine Elwell and Paul Ericksen, and completed in October 1990.
NOTE: Researchers wishing to quote from this transcript may do so. In the event that the selected text includes an underlined portion reflecting a revision or addition by the interviewee, Dr. Adeney has requested that the researcher should use the revised text.
NOTE: This is a continuation of the interview of Adeney recorded on November 14, 1988.
ERICKSEN: You were discussing the popularity of the...the meetings once the communists had taken control. How long were they allowed to meet freely?
ADENEY: Well, the first year in Shanghai. And...and you've got to recognize that Shanghai was different from other...other cities. There was much more freedom in Shanghai than in...than in other places. Beijing probably also. They...they [student meetings] continued quite strongly there [in Shanghai]. And [pauses] we had our fellowship meetings every week in...we had two houses which were Inter-Varsity Fellowship houses and the students met in these houses. At first they continued to have meetings on the campus, but gradually things tightened up on the campus, and they weren't able...they weren't able to have the meetings actually on campus. But they...they met in the fellowship house. And [pauses] as the time went on the pressures on the students politically were tremendous. Every student was in a political group. Every student had to write his or her life story again and again and had to discuss it with the group to...to which the student belonged. And they were going to endless political meetings, endless discussion groups, and the criticism of Christians was increasing. And [pauses] so that some students gave up and couldn't stand the strain. And so they were...the fellowship meetings were designed to strengthen the students, to help them to stand firm and to pray for those who were giving away under the...under the stress. And there were testimonies of...of God's help. And...and we would hear of students getting into trouble. Like we heard of one group where the students, because they said grace at meals, were told that if they asked God...thanked God for their food, then they should not require a scholarship. And pretty well all the students were on scholarship. And so the students were praying for these students and taking an offering to try and help...help them carry on when they lost their scholarship. So this kind of thing was...was going on all the time. And some of the students were quite active in...in their witness. The students in one university produced a little tract, which they called...it had...the outside of it was AD, because the communists changed the dating...the AD/BC. And up to the...up to the coming of the communists everything was dated according to the Sun Yet Sen revolution in 1911. So that 19...1940...49  would have been 19...it would have been 38...the...[from] the year of the...of the...of the nationalist revolution. And [But] now it was...[the communists] had gone back to the...to the whole world wide dating. And so they did a little tract with...with 19...19...I think it was 1950, and...on the...on the front and it describing how everything now is dated according to the coming of Christ. And [pauses] things like that were...were still being done. The...the students were still having evangelistic meetings. And...and yet it was becoming increasingly difficult, and there was the strain of knowing what the attitude should be. Like a student said to me, "We've got to go out on these parades." There were endless parades and you'd hear the beating of the drums and the music of the...[unclear] [of the Yang-guo]...there was a particular dance that was being performed right across the city, and everybody was doing this dance and the particular music connected...connected with it [was very popular]. And then the students would go out on parade and they'd have to shout slogans and they would have to sing patriotic songs. And the students said, "Well, if the song is [clears throat] against America it doesn't matter. We can...we can sing...sing that. But then when it ends with 'Our eternal liberator, Mao Tse Tung, our eternal liberator, our savior,' we can't sing that," you see. And these were the questions that used to come up to the students.
ERICKSEN: So how were students coping with that situation?
ADENEY: Well, in...in many cases, I mean that's...they would...they would...they would join in with what...what they could. And [pauses] on the whole they were quite enthusiastic about working with the...with the government. I mean, you have the great rallies of students with banners everywhere: "Go where the revolution needs you most." And students were being sent out to serve the people [clears throat], and go[ing] into the countryside and bring[ing] help to the farmers and...and that kind of thing. And the Christian students would join in that, and they'd go...go for that. But [pauses] where they had their difficulties was in the discussion groups, where they couldn't accept the Marxist view of life. And...and they...and that [this] sometimes led to them being struggled against, because the...they...they had the...what they called [they had to join] the "Xuch-xi xiao-dzu," which was the indoctrination meetings. And the...one girl, I remember, was very much afraid of these indoctrination meetings, because they were really tough times for the students. But the Lord strengthened her, and she said, "Now I don't call it my 'Xuch-xi xiao-dzu,' my 'education small group.' I call it my 'budao xiao-dzu,' my 'evangelism small group'" [chuckles]. [Sound of approaching/passing train] And [pauses] so they...they...they took advantage to witness in some...some cases. There was the...the...the...what...what they called [pauses] "mutual criticism." There was "dzi-wo piping," which was individual criticism, when they criticized themselves. And they...they had to produce these criticisms of their past thinking, how wrong they'd been. And this had to be written out and then read to the rest of the group, and then the others would criticize it in turn. And this was "husiang-piping," mutual criticism, where they criticized each other. And then, if they didn't respond properly, they made...might be the object of...of "dou-zheng," which is struggle, when one person would be put up and the others would accuse him and struggle against him in order to change his...his thinking. And this was going on in every campus right across [the country]. And later on it was introduced to the churches, and these criticism meetings were started in the churches, and the Christians were expected to criticize each other, those who were backward in their thinking, and so on.
ERICKSEN: What was the attitude in the groups toward people who [pauses] couldn't stand up to the pressure and would renounce their faith or buy into Marxism or...?
ADENEY: [Pauses] The...the attitude of Christians? I would say it was mainly of sorrow and concern and praying that they might come back, those who had failed. And there were quite a lot who did fail. And sometimes you would even see testimonies in the newspapers of students who had given up their faith, and...and they were...they were published as...as "those who'd seen the light." And there were even a kind of evangelistic meetings in reverse, where the communists would say, "Now how many of you've been to Christian schools?" And...and they would...they would...they would lecture them. And then they'd say, "How many of you have seen the light and...and have seen how wrong you've been in your beliefs?" And...and then they'd say, "Now how many of you are prepared to go out and fight against these evil superstitions?" Just like an evangelistic meeting. So...but I...in those first years of the revolution there was still a great deal of enthusiasm among the Christians for their faith. And [pauses] it...it...it was later on that it got much, much worse. But even then there were problems in that, for instance, if a student wanted to get into medical school, they had to sign a...their...their application. And one of the questions was, "Do you have any religion?" And they knew perfectly well if they put down "Christian" they wouldn't get in. And that...that was a real test, too, because there were so many Christians in medical colleges. Large percentages of medical colleges were Christians. We had at the...just before I left, [during our] the last Easter in China, we...we wanted to have a conference...Easter conference. And [chuckles] we finally decided that the best place to meet was the cemetery [laughs]. We couldn't meet on campus. Churches would be very obvious and wouldn't be advisable. And there's a very large cemetery in...in Shanghai, and [pauses] a very quiet place. And [So] we had our day conference there [laughs]. But [pauses] I think it was only after I left, [that] it became far more difficult. My...I was then an [had been] acting as Associate General Secretary with [a] Chinese [fellow worker] (the two of us were...were the leaders in the work.) And we did have a [pauses]...a problem [in] that our General Secretary, Calvin Chao, had gone to Hong Kong. And this created a...a problem [difficulties] because of the...the pressure upon us that time and the fact that...that here was our General Secretary, who was the leader of the work, in Hong Kong, which was considered to be the center of imperialism. And [pauses] this...this...Hong Kong...Calvin Chao had been very concerned, because he'd felt that the...that the movement had been infiltrated, and that the...the communists had got into the movement. He even felt that it got into the staff [had been influenced]. And [pauses] I had the very, very difficult task of being asked to write to him and to suggest that if he did not feel he could come back to China, that it was inadvisable for him to remain as the General Secretary, as it was too embarrassing for the students in...in...in China. And the staff asked me to...to do that [this]. And this was extremely difficult and led to very bad feeling [misunderstandings].
ERICKSEN: On his part?
ADENEY: Yeah [Yes]. [Pauses] That was one of the sad misunderstandings that I had to cope with.
ERICKSEN: I take it that he didn't come back?
ADENEY: He didn't come back, no.
ERICKSEN: What was the....?
ADENEY: No, he moved to Singapore. He felt that even Hong Kong was dangerous and that he must set up a.... He was extremely anti-communist. And...and he felt that...that he must have a base that would be free from [pauses]...from the threat of communism.
ERICKSEN: Just to pick up one little loose thread, you said that there were many students who did fall to the pressure, who were there, and that Christian students were praying for them to come back. Was there much returning by those who had turned away?
ADENEY: There were some, yes. There was some...some real answers to prayer in people coming back to Christ. I think I've...I've given some illustrations of that in...in my book.
ERICKSEN: When did you move from Nanking to Shanghai?
ADENEY: Let's see now. [Pauses] I think it was the [pauses]...I think it was early in '48. I'm not quite sure. (I was away.) I was travelling in...down in the south of China. I was visiting the students in...in Guangzhou, and [pauses] I got word that I was not to go back to Sha...to Nanking, but that I was to go to...I was to go to Shanghai. And I heard that my family, (because my wife is American), and...and had the children, and the...the orders had come for American citizens to withdraw from Nanking. And she had gone down the...the Yangtze on a...on a gunboat, I think, to Shanghai. And so I returned to Shanghai [chuckles] and found the family had moved [laughs].
ERICKSEN: So you never were able to return to Nanking?
ADENEY: I never returned to Nanking. But some of the CIM [China Inland Mission] missionaries remained. And Henry Guinness, who was in Nanking at...at the time, Henry and Mary Guinness, they [who] didn't have children with them then, they...they remained...continued in Nanking.
ERICKSEN: What kind of political pressure were you under when the communists took over?
ADENEY: Well [in] Shanghai, you see, because there was such a large foreign community, and they were very careful in Shanghai. And they [The communist government] wanted to...
ERICKSEN: "They" meaning...?
ADENEY: ...impress the world that they were...they were treating the foreigners well. And in the first...we were there fifteen months, and there wasn't any extreme pressure. The...we were not told we had to leave. In fact they made it difficult. You had to...you had to advertise in the paper that you were going to leave in case anybody had any...anything against you or in case you owed any money. And you had to apply for a permission to leave. So there was not extreme pressure on...on missionaries in...in Shanghai. Now in other parts of China it was different. And some...some of the missionaries were imprisoned. Quite a lot of them had to go through indoctrination groups and...and all that kind of thing and write their confessions and do that. But not in Shanghai.
ERICKSEN: What was the feeling among missionaries in Shanghai (CIM missionaries) about...thoughts about leaving China?
ADENEY: Well, the...at the...at the beginning, of course, nobody wanted to leave China. And we left, actually, before other CIM missionaries left, largely because the student work was a very sensitive work and the...the communists were extremely anxious to...to...to obtain students to take positions of leadership. So the whole emphasis was upon winning over the students, and they would be the leaders. They must...the...the communists had to find people to look after the administrative work throughout the country. And so the students were going through crash courses, very...they...they were...they were given a political education, and they were being prepared to enter into all the various forms of administration which were...which were required and being sent out with very short university careers [chuckles]. And [pauses]...and obviously anybody working with students, as a Christian, was going to be under suspicion. And it became very clear to me, that if we remained on, that it would only make it more difficult for the students; that if the Inter-Varsity Fellowship was to continue it must be without any foreign assistance. And...and so we...we decided it was wiser for us to withdraw. And we were able to leave without any attacks having been made upon us.
ERICKSEN: Through the advertisements you mentioned?
ADENEY: Oh, yes, with that...but the...the students were friendly, and they came to see us off at the railway station. They gave us gifts and...and sent us off. And that there'd be no [No] outward attack [was] made upon us. The...my only problem was I had a little bit of an accident with my motorbike. At that time I road everywhere on a motorbike. And...and [One day] I had one of the staffworkers on the back and a lady ran across the road and (a country lady)...and then suddenly turned round, and I...I...I...I jammed on my brakes, and my passenger flew over the handlebars [laughs] and...and the lady's stockings were torn. So I was taken to the police station and held in the police station for a time and questioned by the young communists cadres there. But then after a few hours I was released and I went to a prayer meeting where the engineering students had a holiday that day, were having a great prayer meeting in one of our fellowship houses. But that was the only time. I...I've heard since that the...the Christians were desperately afraid that this would be used against [sound of approaching/passing train] me, and that...that I would get into trouble. But nothing came of it. But it was clear that...that it would be inadvisable to...for me to stay. And after I left there were posters put up, and I was described as a leading American imperialist. And I was attacked then. But it wasn't until I had left China.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember how you came to the conclusion that you were becoming a liability to the student work in terms of just being an outside presence?
ADENEY: Well, I...I think it was...I'd...I'd already ceased to go on campus, because the presence of a foreigner would be...would...would not be helpful to them. And...and it was very obvious. I mean, it was obvious then that the pressures were on the church to disassociate with...with foreigners. And they'd had the meeting in...in Beijing, where the pastors had gone up and met with Chou En-lai. And the...they were preparing the...the "manifesto"..."the Christian manifesto," which stated that this...all...all association and support from outside missions must be cut off and so on. And it was quite obvious that the days of missionaries were...were numbered. And...and the...the...the student work, it was a Chinese movement. And...and if it was to continue at all, it...it obviously must not be associated with a foreigner. So I...I came to see that...that we must leave.
ERICKSEN: How much discussion was there among the CIM [China Inland Mission] administrators in Shanghai...
ADENEY: Oh, of course there was a...
ERICKSEN: ...about it?
ADENEY: ...great...great deal was going on. The OMF [Overseas Missionary Fellowship] has...has published a book called The Reluctant Exodus by Phyllis Thompson, which describes the...the withdrawal from China, and also the amazing provision of the funds to make it possible. [When we left] We were not allowed to go directly to Hong Kong. That was a strange thing. We were...we had to follow the communist orders regarding our travel instead of taking the train down to Hong Kong, which would have been just eight or nine hours. We had to go right up to the north of China to Tianjin, and then take a boat from Tianjin to Hong Kong [chuckles]. And...which is a strange way to get out of China. But actually, it enabled me to see Wang Mingdao up in...in Tianjin, which I really rejoiced at. And then we traveled down by...by boat to Hong Kong and then home.
ERICKSEN: I know that Inter-Varsity movements in other countries have staff conferences. Were the...the staff of China Inter-Varsity getting together occasionally for staff meetings during this time?
ADENEY: Yes. I think...I think the staff got together from time to time, yes.
ERICKSEN: For retreats, or...?
ADENEY: No, we didn't have any retreats, I don't think. I don't...don't remember any. We were a fairly small staff.
ERICKSEN: How many of there were you?
ADENEY: [Pauses] When we were in Nanking we must have had [pauses] only about half a dozen.
ERICKSEN: So the same size as Inter-Varsity in this country when you...when you started working.
ADENEY: Yes [laughs]. But the movement as such was considered to be possibly the largest...almost the largest in the IFES [International Fellowship of Evangelical Students] in terms of [numbers of] students that were effected.
ERICKSEN: How many...how many students were there?
ADENEY: I...I really couldn't tell you.
ERICKSEN: Now, when you went down to Hong Kong did you see Calvin Chao then or...?
ADENEY: No, I don't think I did. I don't...I don't know where he was that time. But I don't think I did see him.
ERICKSEN: Was the misunderstanding already well in place by that time?
ADENEY: He certainly...he certainly wasn't happy about what I'd done.
ERICKSEN: He took it personally, I take it?
ADENEY: He took it personally, yes, yes. And [pauses] he...he was...he was so very, very concerned about [what he felt was] the communist infiltration was the thing that he was mostly concerned about [of the movement. We did not agree with him on this matter].
ERICKSEN: Before we leave China, how had CIM [China Inland Mission] changed between the time when you had started work to the time that you left in '50?
ADENEY: [Long pause, sound of approaching/passing train] I suppose that when I started in '34, leadership of...of the work was still...was much in the hands of some of the old pioneers. And our own superintendent, when I first arrived in China (in Honan), was a...a missionary who had been with Hudson Taylor and had gone with him on his last journey through Honan just before he died. And in...in a way, the earlier leadership of the mission was much more autocratic. And [pauses] when I left China, I suppose there was the General Director, was [Bishop] Frank Houghton at the time, who was a very, very fine person. But...and I would say that the leadership was much more a team leadership than it had been in the...in the early...earlier days. And there was now, I...I think, more of a Chinese leadership developing, so that my own great friend, David Yang, (who is described in Leslie Lyle's book, Three of China's Mighty Men), Yang Shau Tang, he was a very close friend and consultant in the...in the mission, and he was in Shanghai at the time. He...he was also under great pressures from the communists during the last months that we were there. But there was emerging more and more Chinese leadership. I don't...don't know that I can really describe too much in the...in the way of change.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me a little bit about Bishop Houghton? What was he like?
ADENEY: [Chuckles] Well, he was a...Bishop...Bishop Houghton was a man of very deep spiritual faith, who was always an inspiration. He was a great inspiration to me. It was through his brother that I went to China. His brother was my teacher when I was a boy at school. And his brother became the headmaster of the Chefoo schools, and he died just shortly before the...I think it was shortly before the revolution. He had a heart attack. That was Stanley Houghton. Frank Houghton was Anglican, a bishop in the Anglican church, and a man of a very sensitive nature. He's...he's contributed some beautiful hymns, which are still used today in many of our hymn books. He was one who was greatly valued as a person who could bring encouragement to the younger workers. And...but at the end [of the time in China], when he was in Shanghai, he was...the pressures were so great that he was physically...was...was...was...was suffering from the...from the strain. And this made it very difficult for him. But he was one who was...who was very much loved. He had some very good supporters, in terms of other senior members of the mission, men like Arnold Lea and...and others who were with him in Shanghai. I lived in an apartment almost next door to...to him, and I valued him very greatly as a...as a friend. And he was always very enthusiastic about the student work. We...on our first journey back from China in 1941 to the States, we traveled together on the same boat. And it was he who introduced me to Inter-Varsity in the States. And so there was a very real friendship between my wife and I and...and Bishop and Mrs. Houghton.
ERICKSEN: Did the stress at the end diminish his ability to lead CIM [China Inland Mission] at that point in any way?
ADENEY: I think some people felt that he was...that his health and the strain that he was under did...did effect his...his leadership. But there were others who supporting him and helping him.
ERICKSEN: From what you could see, being a neighbor...?
ADENEY: Well, we were concerned about his health, as he was finding it difficult to sleep and so on, and that...that kind of thing.
ERICKSEN: What was it like raising children in the midst of this environment in...in China?
ADENEY: Well, the...I suppose the difficult thing was sending them away to school at that time. I'm quite sure that it was the right...the right thing. But [clears throat] I always remember one particular time when we were in Nanking, and the children were...were to go...go to school in Guling, the.... (That was a summer resort where the Chefoo Schools had moved. They'd come out of Chefoo because the communists coming down in the north, and so the schools had been set up in...in Guling.) And our children never went to the northern Chefoo. They were at school for a little time in Shanghai, and then schools were established in...in Guling. And they had to fly to Guling. And actually between Nanking and Guling there were communist armies. And to see them going off to school was quite hard. And [pauses] I remember we were singing at our family prayers [the hymn], "Trust and obey." [Unclear, text spoken] "When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word, What a glory he sheds on our way..." And we came to the verse that says, "Where...What he says we will do, Where he sends we will go." And then it goes on, "Only trust and obey." And we were showing signs of strain, and our young son, John, piped up. [He] was saying, "Daddy, doesn't it say 'Where he sends we will go'" [laughs]. And [pauses]...and that's...there was...there was the...it was difficult to...to say goodbye to the children. And then our youngest child was born in Shanghai in the hospital there in...in Shanghai. (My wife had a very hard time with that particular birth.) But [pauses] the children [pauses]...I think that Rosemary [, our eldest] was very happy at school, our eldest. John was very big for his age, and...and I think had a much harder time at school. And Michael [who was born later in England] got on pretty...pretty well. But [pauses] the...they were very well looked after at school. And...and they loved the...they loved their teachers. They had some very good teachers who gave them an excellent education. But our Rosemary was...she...she...she is a....[laughs] Gordon Martin, who was one of the senior teachers there, used to...used to laugh at her [Rosemary] because she was...she's a...she's a...she was a great [talker].... He made up a...a kind of a rhyme. [Pauses] "Her father was a very great walker, He walked all [over] Mokanshan, His daughter was a very great talker, She talked as much as she can." [Laughs] And...[laughs]...these are little...little things that [pauses].... It was a great blow to us when we heard of the death Stanley Houghton.
ERICKSEN: Where...was he at the s...he was at Guling?
ADENEY: He was at Guling, yes. He'd just had a game to tennis and he collapsed.
ERICKSEN: Heart attack?
ADENEY: Heart attack, yeah [yes].
ERICKSEN: What kind of communication did you have been you and the children while they were at school? Were the mails moving?
ADENEY: Not the last...last bit, there was not too much. I can't remember. I think it was difficult getting letters through at the end [pauses], but....[pauses] but....[pauses] Our children were never separated from us for a very long period. We...of course, we were at home during the [war]...there were...when we were.... During our time in Honan, they were young. It was just Rosemary. And then the others were born during the wartime period in America. Well, John was born in America, and Michael was born in London. And...and then Bernard wasn't born until the...just about the time of [before] the communist...just before the revolution in 19...1948, just before they took Shanghai [in 1949]. And so that the only time they were away at...at boarding school at...at...at that time was the time when they were in Guling. And [pauses] so...so it was...that was.... We didn't have long periods of separation from them.
ERICKSEN: Well, why don't we take a break.
END OF TAPE