1897  — 1930

Wu Baoying

Gansu area pioneer Chinese doctor-evangelist.

Wu Baoying was born in 1897 in Qinzhou (now Tianshui), Gansu, to a Christian family. The city was a famous location on the ancient Silk Road, as all traders had to pass through it. At the beginning of 1915, the British CIM missionary Dr George E. King (Jin Pinsan) founded the Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanzhou, but badly needed medical personnel to assist him. He therefore established a school to train Chinese medical students. Wu Baoying was admitted as a member of the first class. In the succeeding years, as Wu Baoying studied medicine under George E. King, he also accompanied him on medical missions. Wu Baoying studied diligently and tirelessly, and was a dedicated Christian who joyfully shared the gospel. He graduated summa cum laude and passed the medical license exam on Christmas Day, 1919, formally becoming a doctor. After graduating, he remained at Borden Memorial Hospital as one of the consulting physicians, and also became one of the few Chinese mdical evangelists of that time.

In addition to the medical school, Borden Memorial Hospital also established a course for nurses’ training. Wu Baoying’s wife was a student in the earliest classes, and became a qualified nurse after graduation.

It was at Borden Memorial Hospital that the two worked together, fell in love, and married. They had two sons and two daughters, Lanxiang the older daughter; Gershom,( the older son; Xinxiang, the younger daughter; and Samuel, the younger son.

At first, Borden Memorial Hospital had three doctors: George E. King, Robert C. Parry (Ba Lede), and Kao Gin-cheng (Gao Jiancheng). Since Wu Baoying remained at the hospital as a resident, Kao Gin-cheng left the hospital for Ganzhou (now Zhangye City) to strike out on his own medical mission, fulfilling George E. King’s for about “doctor-evangelists”.

In November 1920, George E. King took his family back to England for furlough, having served in China as a medical missionary for ten years, and did not return to Borden Memorial Hospital until 1922. During that period, Dr Robert C. Parry was in charge of the hospital, and Wu Baoying became his main assistant, sharing responsibility for medical and administrative work. Not long after George E. King took the reins again, it was Dr Parry’s turn to take leave back to England. Dr King subsequently engaged Chinese doctors as co-workers, having Wu Baoying take on more administration, and appointing Mrs Wu as Head Nurse. This is how George E. King assessed Wu Baoying: “sincere, pragmatic, and competent Head of Administration; highly skilled surgeon, and triumphant rescuer of souls!” At the end of 1925, an American missionary, Dr. Leighton P. Rand (An Lehuan), was sent to serve at Borden Memorial Hospital, bolstering the medical staff. The work of the hospital expanded, and both Hezhou Hospital and the Leprosy Hospital continued to expand.

Just as the hospital was prospering more and more, there was political upheaval. On March 24, 1927, the Nationalist Northern Expedition occupied Nanjing, precipitating the “Nanking Incident,” during which the vice-president of the Private University of Ginling (Jinling), John E. Williams (Wen Huai’en), and several western missionaries were killed. In order to secure the safety of expatriates, the embassies of Europe and America ordered all of them to leave. Under such orders, Hospital President George E. King led the withdrawal of all of Gansu Province’s missionaries and families. The group of 50 took eight sheepskin rafts downstream on the Yellow River, headed toward the Chinese coastal cities. Unfortunately, while rescuing grounded rafts, George E. King was sucked into a whirlpool and perished. When the sad news of his death got to Lanzhou, the Borden Memorial Hospital staff mourned him deeply.

At that time, among the western missionaries only the young, vigorous Dr. Leighton P. Rand remained behind with the Chinese staff to run the hospital, and did his utmost to handle hospital affairs. During this trying period, Wu Baoying assisted him and provided great support in every way. Leighton P. Rand wrote in a letter home on July 30: “Dr Wu is both a Christian and a competent doctor, always giving testimony to the Lord. For me, who has just arrived in China and not yet worked for very long, still speaking Chinese like a baby, he has been such a great help; I am overjoyed to have such a good teacher and helpful friend.”

On September 16 that same year, in a letter to CIM General Director Mr. D. E. Hoste (He Side) in Shanghai, he mentioned Wu Baoying again: “In the hospital, aside from Dr Wu helping me, there is Dr Tang. But Dr Wu has already postponed his vacation numerous times, and in a few days will be going back home. Whether he is able to return here is still a question mark. ….I really feel that I am about to lose a good teacher and helpful friend.”

In the autumn of 1927, Dr and Mrs Wu had their first vacation, returning home to Qinzhou to visit relatives. Since Qinzhou did not yet have any medical missions work, and his younger brother Wu Bao-shui (Wu Baoxiu) was also going to graduate from medical school, they planned to establish together a hospital in their home town to develop the local medical missions work. After over two years of strenuous effort, the hospital was up and running, and a church was also established.

In April 1928, Ma Zhongying led the Hui uprising, seizing cities and territory in every direction, and causing great anxiety among the people. In the latter half of April, the senior Miss S.J. Garland ?Jia Suzhen? and younger Miss Ivy M. Dix (Ding Chongde) both came down with deadly typhoid fever while giving disaster relief to victims in Hui County southeast of Qinzhou, and sought aid from Qinzhou. Wu Baoying immediately took Miss Hilda E. Levermore (Li Guixiang?and a nurse, Miss Olive M. Botham, S. R. N (Pu Meiying?to care for them. But by the time they had rushed to Hui County, S. J. Garland was already seriously ill; they were unable to save her, and early the next morning she died. The two women missionaries stayed to care for Miss Dix, but hoping to protect the missionaries and women and children who had already taken refuge at the clinic, Wu Baoying returned immediately to Qinzhou.

On May 6, 1928, Qinzhou City was attacked by the Hui army Entering the city, they wantonly massacred and pillaged. That night, the Hui army broke in as Wu Baoying was at work in the hospital, killing randomly on sight. Dr Wu bore the brunt of the attack, and fell to the ground, fatally wounded with his skull split open. His younger brother Dr Wu Bao-shui suffered numerous knife wounds, with one eye being nearly blinded. The brothers lay in a pool of blood the whole night with no one to help them. When they were discovered the next morning, Wu Baoying was already at death’s door. He breathed his last words, “The Lord is with us”, and then expired, 33 years old. His death was a much-lamented loss.

As of this writing, Wu Baoying’s older son, Dr Gershom Wu, now lives in the USA and is over 80 years old. Regarding Mrs Wu and her legacy, Gershom Wu explained to Huang Xipei in a February, 2004 letter, “Ever since my grandparents became believers, the family has been Christian for generations, including my three siblings and me. Although I was so young when I lost my father, God gave us a compassionate mother who zealously served the Lord. She was elected deaconness, serving God for years in the church and helping many women. She carried her midwife’s bag day and night, delivering babies, and gained favor with many women and children, all the while bringing up us children. She sent me to study at Mingxian Middle School in Shanxi, and then I went on to graduate in medicine from the National Central University Medical School. After that I was a surgeon at the First Nanking Medical School for some decades. I brought my mother to live with me in Nanjing in 1952 up until 1974, when she died from high blood pressure and heart trouble. While in Nanjing, we often attended the Shanxi Road Church pastored by the Rev. Jia Yuming. Since my wife had gone to the USA to see relatives and work in hospital in 1962, she applied for me and two sons to settle there. Happily, we were granted exit permits in 1977 and were reunited as a family in the USA….” ?Huang Xipei, Sacrifical Love, p206?


  • China’s Millions, North American edition, by China Inland Mission 1919 pp 54-59,1920 pp 44-45, 121, 1930 pp 167-179.
  • China’s Millions, (London Edition),1919 pp 35,106, 1920 p 140, 1921 pp 28, 44-45, 77.
  • Houghton, Frank, George King Medical Evangelist, 1930.
  • The Register of CIM Missionaries and Associates.
  • Directory of Protestant Missions in China, 1927.
  • Stauffer, Milton T., The Christian Occupation of China (1918-1921), Shanghai, 1922.

About the Author

Yading Li

Senior Associate, Global China Center; Chinese Editor, Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity.

Translated by Randall Chan