The second son of a concubine, Cai A-fu came to Robert Morrison when he was about twenty-one years old, and later served, along with his brother Ayun, as one of Morrison’s printers in Macao. He attended weekly worship services, “prayed earnestly morning and evening, and read the Decalogue as contained in the Catechism” (Morrison, quoted in Hancock, 110). From the Decalogue he discovered his sins and need for salvation. When he was baptized, he said, “Jesus making atonement for us is the blessed sound. Language and thought are both inadequate to exhaust the gracious and admirable goodness of the intention of Jesus. I now believe in Jesus and rely on his merits to obtain the remission of sin” (Hancock, 111).
He was baptized secretly at the age of twenty-seven, Morrison’s first convert after seven years of missionary work, on July 16, 1814, after a process of inquiring which was carefully recorded in Morrison’s diary. On one occasion, A-fu brought his household idols to Morrison “secretly, fearing Chinese anger against the sacrilege, saying, ‘I believe in Yay-soo (Yesu: i.e. Jesus) and hearken to what you say of the vanity of worshiping wooden, clay, and other images’” (Hancock, 84). On the day of his baptism, Morrison wrote in his journal, “At a spring of water issuing from the foot of a lofty hill by the seaside, away from human observation, I baptized [him]…May he be the firstfruits of a great harvest; one of millions who shall believe and be saved…” (Broomhall, 134).
A-fu was responsible for the Chinese verse form of hymns which Morrison had translated from the Scots version of the Psalms into Chinese prose, which he published in 1815. He died of consumption in 1818, within three years after his conversion, deeply grieving Morrison.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates, 134, 145.
- Christopher Hancock, Robert Morrison and the Birth of Chinese Protestantism, 84-85, 109, 110-111, 127.