Early Chinese Evangelist

In 1855, English Presbyterian missionaries wrote fondly about Sibu, a volunteer from Pechuia, a town also known as Bai Shui Ying, located inland near Amoy (present day Xiamen) in Fujian Province. Although Amoy was the center of English Presbyterian missionary work, Pechuia and its residents quickly became one of their most successful endeavors.

When the missionaries worked with Sibu in 1854 in Pechuia, he was approximately eighteen to twenty years of age and was more educated than many of his peers. According to the missionaries, Sibu made significant changes in his life to conform to his new beliefs when he converted to Christianity. For example, he gave up his job carving idols, although this left him without a source of income to support himself and his mother. While looking for a new way to provide for his family, he did not seek assistance from the missionaries, but instead took up a new occupation carving beads. Sibu could carry this new work with him anywhere, and the portability of his new occupation allowed him to take advantage of evangelistic opportunities. He was able to join the English Presbyterian Good News Boat, which traveled the waterways in order to extend the reach of the missionaries. While they sailed, Sibu carved his beads. When they landed, Sibu preached without pay, utilizing skills he had obtained from training in Amoy, the center of the English Presbyterian mission.

In 1857, Sibu went to Singapore to work with Chinese emigrants there. He is an example of the greater group of Chinese converts that aided the English Presbyterian missionaries in their goal to spread the Gospel. Missionaries felt that committed individuals like Sibu represented the ability of native Chinese to produce genuine converts. Many of these individuals gave substantial time to the cause as volunteers, allowing the Church to cast a wider net without the proportionate financial expenditure.


  • Cheung, David. Christianity in Modern China: The Making of the First Native Protestant Church. Studies in Christian Mission. 28, Leiden: Brill, 2004. Pp. 219-220.

About the Author

Erica Mitchell

Erica Mitchell graduated from the University of Virginia in 2010 with High Distinction with a major in History.