George W. Stokes was born in Dover in England in 1863. From the age of four, he attended Sunday school, and the Salem Baptist Church became his spiritual home. He experienced the power of Christ’s salvation in 1881, at the age of 18.
After leaving school, he became an apprentice printer and later entered the trade. He became very successful, specializing in high-quality colour art publications; but despite his busy work life he still made time to preach in the villages and to lead the Sunday school at his church. He also gave liberally to help to establish free schools for the children of poor families who otherwise would not have been able to afford an education.
He got married and soon had a little boy and girl, but tragedy struck and both his wife and son died. This experience “tended to make him very gentle and “as one account put it. (Edwards, 249) In the following years, ‘Stokes heard about the pressing needs of the mission field, and his parents took care of his daughter so that he could attend mission school. He arrived in the Orient in January 1892 as a member of the China Inland Mission.
For the first few years, he was based at Shunde in Hebei Province. He was quick to learn Chinese and within a year was able to preach in village churches. In 1896, he made a trip to Shanxi to consult with Dr. E.H. Edwards about the treatment of opium addicts and there he met Margaret Whitaker, a single missionary who had come from England several years before. They were married the following year and, deciding that they were most needed in Shanxi, they resigned from the CIM and joined the independent Shouyang Mission.
Margaret Stokes knew Christ as a little girl. When she was only six, her parents took her to see a play and the sensitive child asked her mother to take her out of the theatre as the actors were mocking God. At the age of 14, she started teaching Sunday school at her church. Her commitment to Christ was greatly strengthened after she attended meetings addressed by the great American evangelist D.L. Moody, and she developed a strong desire to be a missionary to China. During the eight years she served in the Orient, she worked chiefly among the sick and dying who came to the hospital for treatment. She was never short of a kind word and shared the gospel with many.
Just before the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, she wrote home: “It looks rather ominous, does it not? Well, it is comforting to know that we are safe in God’s keeping.” (Edwards,253) George and Margaret Stokes were among the 46 missionaries and their children slaughtered in Taiyuan on 9 July 1900.
Paul Hattaway, China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle, CA: Piquant Editions, 2007. Used by permission.
- Hattaway, Paul. China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle, CA: Piquant Editions, 2007.
- Edwards, E.H. Fire and Sword in Shansi: The Story of the Martyrdom of Foreigners and Chinese Christians. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1903.