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Thursday, July 07, 2022
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Story of Christian Doctor, Chairman of Gospel Hospital in Fujian
A historical picture of Jiang Tianhan, chairman of the former Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital of Fujian ProvinceA historical picture of Jiang Tianhan, chairman of the former Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital of Fujian Province

In 1887, the London Missionary Society of England sent Dr. Acumen Fahmy, a medical missionary, to Zhangzhou, Fujian Province. He founded the Zhangzhou Gospel (Union) Hospital by renting a private house beside Yuankui Temple on Dongmen Street, Zhangzhou City (now No. 189 Huadong Road, Xiangcheng District). In the hospital, medicine was administered to the public and a chapel was set up for preaching. To promote medical and health services and develop business, the hospital usually recruited the children of believers to study medicine (for five years).

Jiang Tianhan was a posthumous son, born in Tianxia Village, Longxi County in 1888. Since birth, Jiang had been living in poverty with his mother who was hired by others to make tofu to make a living. As a child, Jiang worked for his uncle, weaving a special cloth and grinding stone powder (to apply on the face or body skin) day and night without resting. His Christian uncle, acquainted with Dr. Acumen Fahmy, knew that the Union Hospital was recruiting apprentices. One day in 1899, Dr. Fahmy passed by Tianxia Village. Jiang’s uncle asked him to choose one of his three sons to be an apprentice. However, Dr. Fahmy didn’t see any of them as having the capability to study medicine after observing them for some time. Then, his uncle had no choice but to let the eleven-year-old Jiang Tianhan meet with the doctor who recruited him at first sight. Since then, Jiang had to study in the hospital, and work at his uncle's as well, which made him exhausted almost every day.

After graduating, Jiang practiced medicine in the hospital for six years. In his spare time, Dr. Fahmy (who knew Chinese) taught Jiang language, literacy, and culture, as well as business knowledge, and the Bible. After 12 years of study and work, Jiang gained much medical knowledge and skills and became a famous doctor of modern medicine in Zhangzhou.

Since Jiang became a qualified doctor, Dr. Fahmy sponsored him to purchase medical equipment for independently opening Shounan Medical Clinic with Medicine and Surgery departments at the temple area of Xinqiaotou, Zhangzhou City in March 1916. In his clinic, Jiang specially cared for underprivileged patients, and sometimes even treated them for free.

Jiang was a devout Christian. After practicing medicine for a few years, he donated his savings to build the Zhangzhou Union Hospital ( currently named Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital of Fujian Province), and Xiasha Chapel. He was later elected as the chairman of the hospital, and served as the elder of Xiasha Chapel in 1929. At the same time, he also contributed to three church schools out of a love for education.

Jiang died of a stroke and returned to heaven in May 1944 at the age of 56. He had three boys and six girls, most of whom went to college. Among them, the eldest son is a pastor who graduated from Nanjing Theological Seminary, and four other children become doctors following his will.

- Translated by Shuya Wang

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