Letters from Manchuria
A beautiful hardback book of 416 pages with 156 photographs and 4 maps in context with the narrative.
9 in stock
The story of Marion Young, missionary in Japanese-occupied China
|Dimensions||35.2 × 25 × 3 cm|
Sheila Maxey –
Sheila Maxey’s review for ‘Reform’: The heart of this book is the letters of Marion Young – a lively, tough, young Irish Presbyterian missionary who was sent to work in China in 1935. However, Marion’s son-in-law, Neil Sinclair, and his wife, Helen, have selected from hundreds of letters and then added explanatory notes to the selection. Neil has told the story of Marion’s life before and after China. There is a carefully researched chapter on the history of Manchuria in the 1930s, lists of people, maps of the area and copious photographs. Once I got into Marion’s letters, I was hooked. Marion lived life to the full – learning to speak Chinese fluently, teaching Bible classes which also brought literacy to many women, travelling with a Chinese colleague to outlying churches, and then having a shopping break in Peking (sic) or a fun seaside holiday with other young missionaries. During her time, Japanese rule over Manchuria became more and more oppressive. Because of censorship, she could only make veiled reference to the regular imprisonment and torture of many of the leading Chinese Christians. Foreigners were safe but constantly watched and asked for papers, such was suspicion about spies within the church community. The courage of the local Christians is remarkable. Tension rose from 1939 onwards until it seemed much of the mission work – especially the education work – would have to be given up. Marion went on leave in 1941, just as most missionaries were either instructed or encouraged to leave. Because of the war, it took Marion ten months to get home, via the US. She left behind a fiancé – a Scots mission doctor – so there is a little love interest and suspense as to whether he would escape before it was too late.
In 1946 my father was sent, with two others, by the Church of Scotland to see what had happened to
the Church in Manchuria. He found it flourishing in spite of years of deprivation and persecution. I had a personal reason for enjoying this book – but it is also a good read!
Presbyterian Herald –
Presbyterian Herald review
A sizeable cache of personal letters from Irish Presbyterian missionary Marion Young to her parents forms the basis for this informative new book. Marion worked in Manchuria, now Dongbei province in north-east China, from 1935-43.
Throughout these years she wrote regularly to her parent in Clones and they valued and kept all of her letters. Like one side of a conversation, her correspondence offers insights into life in rural China in the 1930s and 1940s. A dominant feature was the Japanese conquest of the area and Marion cleverly referred to local ‘black and tan’ activity to convey the realities of the regime to her parents.
The letters also reveal the practical contribution of Western missionaries in helping establish and indigenous growing church. Carefully preserved by Marion’s family, daughter Helen and her husband Neil Sinclair have lovingly and carefully reproduced Marion’s letters and illustrated them with appropriate surviving photographs, telling an incredibly exciting tale of mission in the 20th century.
The story is updated with an account of their recent visit to Faku where Marion worked and their encounter with the surviving church, which still meets in the same building. This hardback book comprises 416 pages and 197 illustrations and adds significantly to the corpus of Irish Presbyterian mission material.
Reviewer FCC –
Friends of the Church in China (FCC)
In 1935 Marion Young arrived in China and for the next six years she wrote weekly letters home to her parents in Ireland. Her letters give a vivid picture of the life in the market town of Faku and of the villages in neighbouring Inner Mongolia which Marion visited as part of her mission work.
She describe the ‘spits and smells’ of daily life in northern China, children in happy play, and the shadow sides of social reality at that time, ‘Christmas morning—wakened to the feet running by my window’—the morning the cook’s daughter-in-law threw herself down the well. Ever present in Marion’s letters were observations about living under an occupied rule. ‘They treat folk a bit more kindly before freeing them, to give the marks of beating or torture a chance to clear up’ and sardonically adds, ‘isn’t it a bright thought?’
Marion’s letters and photos were passed down to her daughter and son-in-law, FCC members Helen and Neil Sinclair. Bringing them to life again was joint collaboration all the way. After making difficult decisions on which of the letters should be included in the book, Helen read out the selected passages, while Neil typed them out. In his forward, the Right Hon. Douglas Alexander MP wrote, ‘What emerges is a deep respect…with which Marion and her colleagues regarded their Chinese students and the culture and civilization which they were a part.’
Royalties from the sale of Letters to Manchuria will go to supporting one of FCC’s long-term projects, supporting disadvantaged children through the Amity Foundation’s Rural Orphans Fostering Project. FCC is grateful to the Sinclairs for this generosity.