Born in a pastor’s family in Wurttemberg, Lechler served an apprenticeship as a merchant but soon entered the Basel Mission’s seminary. In 1846 he was the first Basel missionary to be sent to China, together with his Swedish-born colleague T. Hamberg. Both of them were assigned to a Chinese evangelization society founded by Karl Gutzlaff and became as Chinese as possible. After the dissolution of the association and Hamberg’s death, Lechler concentrated on work among the Hakka Chinese, which brought him in contact with the “Taiping Revoludon” (mainly a Hakka affair). Against considerable odds he pursued an in-depth study of Chinese philosophy and religion and perfected his knowledge of Hakka Chinese. In 1874 he became the head of the Basel mission in China. After his return to Germany in 1899 he finished the Hakka Chinese dictionary begun by Hamberg and compiled a Chinese hymnal.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- W. Schlatter, Rudolf Lechler (1911).