‘Beyond the Clouds’ by Elliott Kendall
This is the amazing story of Samuel Pollard, a Bible Christian missionary, who left Devon in 1886 to work in the remote Province of Yunnan*, China.
Elliott Kendall researched and wrote this well researched book while working in the 1940s in the very place where Pollard had ministered. The book is easy to read and written with a simplicity that shows Elliott’s deep understanding of the place and people of northern Yunnan. Elliott did not need to add drama because the events themselves were so dramatic as to defy belief.
Beyond the Clouds is summarised in the introduction of Strangers in Chaotung to give context to the inhospitable place where the young missionaries, Frank and Winnie Tovey, worked from 1948 to 1949.
When Samuel Pollard arrived in Yunnan he changed his Western clothes for Chinese garments and grew his hair into a long Chinese queue. Dressed like this he used his rudimentary mastery of the Chinese language to go out and preach in the streets, banging a gong for attention and yelling himself hoarse.
After four years of privation, and suffering from chronic malaria, Pollard had the good fortune to meet and fall in love with Miss Hainge, a young lady of the China Inland Mission in Kunming. He travelled a thousand miles to marry her in Chungking, where there was a British Consulate.
The Pollards returned together to the Chaotung to minister, but the city was not a friendly place, and the surrounding countryside was under the rule of warring barons, who used the rural population as serfs and slaves. Against great odds the Pollards continued their work until they had to flee China during the Boxer Rebellion.
Before a year had passed Samuel Pollard returned to Chaotung alone. This time he carried, strapped to his mule, the additional attraction of magic lantern shows.
In July 1904 an event happened that changed the history of the area forever. Four men from the Miao tribe arrived at Pollard’s house. They had walked two hundred miles to find out more about the foreigner who spoke of ‘a god who loves us’.
The events that followed have placed Pollard alongside John Wesley as one of the five ‘Methodist Apostles’.
*The meaning of the Chinese word ‘Yunnan’ is ‘beyond the clouds’.