Biograpgy of CIM Missionary: Rev. Arnold Strange Served in NW China for 16 years

The church in Qingcheng County, Qingyang, Gansu
The church in Qingcheng County, Qingyang, Gansu (photo: Provided by the church )
By CCD contributor: Paul Wu May 26th, 2020

Rev. Arnold Strange served with the China Inland Mission (CIM) in northwest China as a missionary for 16 years.

Born in England on June 13, 1897, Rev. Arnold Strange moved to Canada with his parents when he was young. After graduating from high school, he became a stenographer and served in World War I. He was trained as a radio operator and worked on a British fishing trawler.

After the war, he returned to Canada and entered McGill University for further study. After obtaining a bachelor of arts, he went to Moody Bible College to study theology and prepare for future service. There he met Dr. Robert H. Glover. Not only did the two of them forge a profound friendship, but Rev. Arnold Strange also read his book on missionary education. The book made a deep impression and helped him develop his ideas on how education should be carried out in mission settings abroad.

After graduating from Moody Bible College, he felt the need of the Chinese soul, so he joined CIM and prepared to go to China to preach.

In November 1925, Rev. Arnold Strange arrived in Shanghai. After studying Chinese in Anqing, he was sent to Taizhou, Gansu (Tianshui, today) to serve. During the Northern Expedition, he followed missionary Lloyd Robert Rist and took various means of transportation until he finally arrived in Qinzhou in July 1926. He started serving in the local Gospel Church.

Four months later, Rev. James O. Fraser, known as the "Apostle of the Lisu People" came to Qinzhou for a retreat, and Rev. Arnold Strange learned about the development of Chinese evangelism, especially the missionary work among ethnic minorities.

In the spring of 1927, due to the war, Rev. Arnold Strange had to evacuate Qinzhou with other foreign co-workers and he went to a meeting in Lanzhou. During the retreat, there was an accident on board a ship, and Dr. George Edwin King lost his life. Of course, for Rev. Arnold Strange, this retreat was not entirely about grief, he also enjoyed the sweetness of love. He met a Miss Winifred N. Vincent, a female missionary from Liangzhou. During the retreat the two learned to know each other, mutually supporting each other during that time, and their feelings became increasingly intimate. In April 1928, they were married in Yantai, Shandong.

At the end of 1928, the National Government succeeded in the Northern Expedition and nominally unified China. China entered a time of peace and missionaries returned to their mission areas. Strange and his wife were reassigned and began to serve in Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province.

They set off in early 1929 and arrived at their destination after a four-month trek. However, the situation in the northwest was not positive at that time. Due to a sudden disaster, many people were died. According to statistics, up to three million people died of hunger and disease in three years. Even more terrifying is that many people were forced to fight against others for survival and they burned and looted throughout Northwest China.

Faced with such a difficult situation, Rev. Arnold Strange was tenacious in promoting the church’s ministry in Hanzhong. After a time of furlough, Strange and his wife returned to China for a brief time to work in Chenggu, Shaanxi. In addition to pastoring the local church, they insisted on preaching in the prison once a week, and sometimes even went to the surrounding villages and towns to preach and distribute literature. Mrs. Strange was responsible for women's work and leading women's Bible study classes.

In April 1934, they held a number of days of revival in Pantaosi to spread the gospel of Christ to the local people. They also helped the locals to do a lot of good things, such as changing their customs and no longer smoking opium.

Because of the fighting in 1934, Strange was forced to flee again. The family of four crossed Qinling and went to Fengxiang, Shaanxi, for half a month. Although the road was full of danger, the Lord cared for the family and they found their way to safety. On the way, he preached the gospel to the people who fled with them. Many people witnessed the shortness of life and the redemption of Christ during this trying time and were baptized. After the situation eased, the Strange family returned to the Chenggu Church again.

After the outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War, a large number of refugees poured into Sichuan, Shaanxi and other places not occupied by the Japanese. Strange and his wife were involved in the refugee work, helping those displaced by the war, and helping those suffering from drug addiction. They also took care of the needs of Christians during the retreat.

In 1940 the War with Japan became a stalemate, at which time Rev. Strange was responsible for the work of China Inland Mission in Shaanxi province. Due to the remoteness of Chengdu, there were fewer Japanese planes bombing the area, and a large number of refugees flooded into this small place.

In September 1941, the number of refugees entering Chenggu increased sharply, and Strange's work became more and more difficult, causing him physical harm. Unfortunately, he contracted typhoid fever and died on September 28 at the relatively young age of only 44.

- Translated by Kevin Feng

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